Meadville to have area's largest small-school contingent among 11 schools sending athletes to Jefferson City later this week

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Two dozen Class 1 or Class 1 track-and-field athletes from C-T-area high schools will compete in 34 solo events – with some overlap – and two relay squads also will be in the running for state medals when the state championship meets for those small(er) schools are conducted at Jefferson City High School’s Pete Adkins Stadium this coming Friday and Saturday.
Fittingly, leading the area “caravan” to state, just as it did to the three state-qualifying sectional meets at which area thinclads competed last Saturday, will be Meadville.
MHS was the only area school with enough running depth to get any relay squads through to state, advancing both of its 3,200-meters groups. Those runners include two – senior Dillon Seckington and freshman Maggie McLain – who are dual individual event advancers and among the five Eagles or Lady Eagles who will compete in a total of seven “open” events at Jeff City.
All told, 11 area schools have state qualifiers – and presumably participants. Nine of those – including nearby Southwest Livingston, Hale, Braymer, Linn County, and Jamesport: Tri-County – compete in Class 1. Going in Class 2 will be a half-dozen athletes from Hamilton: Penney and Polo combined.
In addition to Meadville’s largest state cadre – which will include Conner Fletcher, Jacob Tsikoyak, and Kaci Ruff – of which two are multi-events individual qualifiers, three area schools have an athlete who will try for Class 1 state medals in three events each – Linn County sprinter-hurdler Caleb Schreiner, Hardin-Central sprinter-hurdler Carly Thacker, and Brunswick sprinter Amari Glasgow.
For Southwest Livingston, Saturday largely was a sour day for its 5-entries sectional contingent.
Junior Mack Anderson advanced to state in both of his jumps, taking third in both the high (5’8”) and long (19’1”). He medaled in both last year at state, but with markedly=better performances than those. However, given the only objective at sectional is to be in the top four in order to qualify for state, not strive for your ultimate performance in a particular event, Anderson might well approach or better his 2018 performances (6’2” in high jump and 19’10-3/4” in the long jump) when maxing out is the focus this week.
While Anderson moved on in those two individual events, a near-miss and a heartbreaking miscue marked the SLHS Wildcats’ two relay races at the Class 1 sectional at Lathrop.
First, the quartet of Nate Reith, Chase Neptune, Wyatt Maddux, and Mack Anderson missed qualifying for state in the 800-meters (4x200) relay when Wellington-Napoleon edged them for fourth place by 0.36 seconds, 1:36.08 to 1:36.44.
Later, with Maddux, Neptune, and Reith joined by Morgan Anderson for the 400 (4x100) relay, the Wildcats were locked in a tight battle with Wellington-Napoleon for what looked to be the fourth and final qualifying berth when, as the last exchange was being made, the baton pass was not completed securely between the last two Wildcats. With qualifying no longer possible, they didn’t even bother to pick up the “stick” and perfunctorily finish the last 100 meters.
Combined with sophomore Lily Webb taking seventh place in the triple jump – even equaling her best distance of the season would have left her about a foot short, that meant Mack Anderson will be the lone Southwest Livingston rep at state.
Hale had a half-and-half day at the Class 1 sectional at Russellville, slightly better than projected by the Cardinals’ district finishes.
With two runners participating in two races apiece, sophomore middle/long-distance runner Ethan Hoerr first punched his state ticket with a comfortable third place in the 1,600 in 4:54.79 – 10 seconds ahead of the last advancer, then not only qualified in the 3,200, but won it in 10:39.9, virtually 20 seconds faster than his district-runnerup time and 14 seconds better than his prior 2019 best.
Hale teammate Matt Daniels, having been third and fourth, respectively, in the 100- and 200-meters dashes at Higginsville the week before, did not project to come out of sectional, although he came about as close as you can in the 100.
The Cardinals senior ran a 12.07 in that race, taking fifth in essentially a photo finish, officially only 0.01 second back of the fourth-place finisher. Daniels later took sixth in the 200, bettering his district time and only 0.41 seconds behind the last qualifier.
Braymer will have two individuals in three state events.
A year after winning both the 200 and 400 at state and finishing second in the 100, now-junior Jasmine Taylor’s only advancement comes in the 400, where she placed a close second in 1:01.4 Saturday. She won state in 58.27 seconds last year.
Also headed south will be senior Keaton O’Dell, who will compete in both a race and a field event. He won the 800-meters run in 2:03.73, virtually duplicating his district time, after earlier capturing fourth in the long jump at 19’1/2”, a half-inch behind Southwest’s Ma. Anderson.
In Class 2, Hamilton: Penney sends four athletes on to state in five events.
Sophomore sprinter Sawyer Morrow grabbed second place in the sectional 100 (11.61) and fourth in the 200 (22.96), in which he needed a faster time than he had the week before to stay alive and produced it.
In one state event apiece will be Hannah Graham in the  1,600 (second at sectional in 5:41.14), Brighton Swindler in the 300-meters low hurdles (third in 48.16), and Graycen Prothero (third in discus throw at 114’9”).
Also in Class 2, Polo will have two state participants – sophomore Cody Blackwell in the javelin throw (146’10”) and senior Lady Panther Taylor Wagner in the 800 (fourth in 2:34.71).
Back in Class 1, Jamesport: Tri-County sophomore Jaren Johnson cleared 5’6” in the boys’ high jump to secure fourth place and a trip to the state capital.
Also a “lone wolf” at state will be Mendon: Northwestern’s junior hurdler Georganne Zahner. She finished fourth at Russellville in 49.85 seconds.
Of the C-T-area’s trio of triple-qualifiers, each heads to Jefferson City with reasonable prospects of medaling at least twice each.
LCHS Mustang senior Schreiner took second place in both the 400-meters dash (51.81) and 110-meters high hurdles (16.44) and was fourth in the 200 (23.34) at sectional.
Hardin-Central junior Thacker came very close to advance in all four of her sectional races, missing out only with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meters dash (13.56, 0.04 away from fourth) a few minutes after qualifying for state with a fourth in the 100-meters high hurdles (17.0).
Later in the meet, she won the 300-meters low hurdles in 48.2 seconds – with teammate Gracelyn Gibson third (48.84) – and closed out her day with a third in the 200 (27.54).
Along on the trip of Jefferson City from the central Ray County school will be Bella Anderson, who took third in the javelin throw (105’1”).
Brunswick’s Glasgow took home two seconds and a third from the Russellville sectional. The runnerup spots came in the 100 (11.85) and 200 (22.99) and the “show” in the 400 (51.95).
At state, he’ll have two sophomore schoolmates participating, both in the high hurdles. Addi Riley placed third in the 100-meters girls’ race (16.85) and Gus Kussman fourth in the boys’ 110-meters event (17.15).
After having a handful of district champions the week before, Meadville’s Seckington and McLain each claimed a win and another individual state berth at sectional.
Senior Seckington claimed the 1,600 meters in 4.48.4 before taking a very close second in the 800 in 2:07 flat, a mere 0.07 seconds behind the victor.
McLain crossed the finish line first in the mid-meet 400 in 1:03.07 and grabbed a second state ticket late with a fourth in the 200 (27.77). She also anchored the Lady Eagles’ 3,200 relay which advanced, meaning she’ll have a busy opening day at state with qualifying heats in her two shorter races after she, Krysta Meyers, Allie Myers, and Kiera Holcer compete in the opening track event late Friday morning. The girls’ relay took fourth at Russellville.
Seckington will run his two state solo races Friday before joining with Tanner Baker, Jace Jacobs, and Dominik Gannan for the 3,200 relay Saturday.
Meadville senior Kaci Ruff advanced in the girls’ high jump by clearing 4’10”.
After being third in the triple jump at district, Fletcher jumped just over a foot farther at sectional (40’5”) to place second. However, in the javelin throw, which he won at district with a 152’4” fling, he topped out at 141’5”, good for fifth spot, but eight feet away from advancement.
Tsikoyak took third in the discus throw (136’5”), a distance 2-1/2 feet short of his school-record winning throw of the week before, but right at 10’ ahead of Saturday’s fifth-place finisher.
Eagles district champs Fletcher and Tsikoyak advanced, although Fletcher did not do it in the event he’d won the prior Saturday.