Hornets' 1,600-meters relay team closes strong to win race Monday (May 20), advance to this week's state championships. Yutzy falls just short in pole vault

ODESSA, Mo. — Although it took something over 50 hours to validate, Chillicothe HS will have six entries in this week’s Class 3 Missouri State High School Activities Association championship meet for track-and-field.
Having certified a handful of state entries last Saturday, when the state-qualifying sectional meet at Odessa began, CHS tacked on one more Monday (May 20) when – after a 2-days suspension, due to stormy weather Saturday – the Hornets’ 1,600-meters (4-by-400) relay unit of Ethan Corbin, Kaleb Mullikin, Peyton Forck, and Isaak Rasche won its event in a season-best time of 3:30.97.
Chillicothe had a chance for a seventh state-event qualifier, but sophomore Rudy Yutzy placed fifth in the pole vault, one spot shy of advancing to state.
When the curtain finally dropped on the sectional meet, CHS had qualified eight individuals – two girls and six boys – for six state events this Friday and Saturday (May 24-25) at Jefferson City High School’s Pete Adkins Stadium/Licklider Track-and-Field Complex. That group of eight will include Lady Hornets Kylee Larson in the 100-meters high hurdles and Jordan Hibner in the long jump and Hornets Rasche in the 400-meters dash, Damarcus Kelow in the discus throw, the 800-meters (4-by-200) relay group of Deon Reynolds, Forck, Mullikin, and Rasche, and the aforementioned 1,600 relay team.
With his near-miss, Yutzy joined eight other CHS sectional entries – including two girls’ relay squads – which came up shy of advancement to state.
For half of the Hornets’ qualifying 1,600 relay group, Monday brought redemption – apparently in stirring fashion, if “split” times listed online by the official timing service for the meet are accurate.
A year ago, the CHS unit in that race, including Rasche and Mullikin, was expected to advance through sectional to state in fairly-routine manner, but a foul was called on them in one exchange area and they were disqualified. Empirical evidence showed the Hornet involved had not been guilty of the foul an official alleged.
This year, the group ran a race “clean” of any actual or imagined fouls or any handoff issues that could have cost it time and advancement.
However, timing information listed online – which might or might not be an accurate assessment of the various participants’ standings at each exchange – shows Chillicothe having had the second-slowest mid-race time of the seven teams competing at 1:47.48 and just over 0.1 second outside the top four.
The third Hornet to run – tall senior Peyton Forck, part of the 2017 sectional-winning 1,600 relay group before missing much of last year with an injury – answered the call, running his virtual lap in 51.847 seconds, according to the online-posted stats. When handed the baton away smoothly to anchor man Rasche, Chillicothe led by about 0.8 seconds.
Rasche, having qualified for state in the “open” 400 Saturday, pulled away from the then-second-place team Kansas City: St. Pius X’s last runner and, while a couple of pursuers closed on him slightly, the Hornet crossed the finish line first, nearly 1.6 seconds ahead of runnerup Knob Noster.
The race saw excruciating disappointment for Cameron in the duel for the last state-qualifying berth. Despite its anchor man fading, St. Pius X finished in 3:33.521, an astonishingly-small three-thousandths of a second ahead of fast-finishing Cameron.
While he also finished fifth in the pole vault, Yutzy’s margin of elimination was not so infinitesimal.
The Chillicothe sophomore flawlessly cleared the competition’s first four heights, beginning at 8’6” and going up six inches each round. At that point in the 7-person competition, he was one of five remaining “alive” and technically had an edge on Maryville’s Treyton Paris, who figured to be his competition for fourth place (based on prior performances, three of the vaulters were expected to – and did – clear heights well beyond Yutzy’s and Paris’ best). Paris had missed on his first try at 9’, a potential tiebreaker which would favor the Chillicothean.
However, when the bar was elevated three inches to 10’3”, Paris cleared it on his first attempt, while Yutzy missed his first. That meant the Hornet had to make the height on one of his next two tries or fall short. With the other three competitors having not yet even started to make attempts – so confident were they of their abilities, those two Yutzy attempts would come back-to-back.
Recent graduate Paris now having the tiebreaker advantage with the Chillicothean now having the most recent miss, Yutzy was unable to extend the battle. Knocking the bar off twice more, he saw his season end, albeit with two more years of potential advancement.
A recap of Chillicothe’s Saturday performances and state qualifications appeared in yesterday’s print edition.
Noting the meet’s 2-days interruption was a postseason first in his 25 years as a track-and-field coach for his alma mater, CHS boys’ head coach Bill Shaffer said, on behalf of the program’s entire coaching staff, “We had several ‘PRs’ (personal records set) and really feel good that even the athletes who did not move on performed at their top levels.”
A preview of Chillicothe’s prospects at state is planned for tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) print edition.