Encouraging final pre-Easter efforts by Chillicothe (Mo.) HS squads

Baseball bats boom, tennis just misses surprise, thinclads progress

As reported to C-T
Junior Damarcus Kelow of the 2021 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS track-and-field Hornets nears his release of the discus on one of his throws in the event during Thursday's (April 1) Chillicothe Open quintangular meet at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II. This Kelow throw carried about 147 feet, but a subsequent won of over 155 feet not only won the event, but was of a distance that would have won the event at the 2019 state meet.

The final pre-Easter break competitions for Chillicothe (Mo.) High School sports teams Thursday (April 1, 2021) provide upbeat vibes.

Coach Joshua Lisle’s baseball Hornets unleashed a 16-hits attack in their 2021 Midland Empire Conference opener, bouncing back quickly from a 10-runs-rule loss three days before with an 8-4 home victory over St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond.

The Bob Long-guided tennis Hornets turned what likely was anticipated to be a decisive loss as they visited defending MEC tri-champion Kansas City: St. Pius X into a near-upset win, falling 5-4.

The girls’ and boys’ track-and-field teams competed at home in an “open” meet for a third time and, against larger-school opposition, produced a combined dozen event wins in an encouraging showing heading into their first “scoring” meet next week.

BASEBALL

2021 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS baseball Hornet Gage Leamer alertly goes to the fair side of the baseline to get past the St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond catcher's tag attempt and successfully complete a second CHS double-steal of second base and home plate during the third inning of the teams' Thursday, April 1, Midland Empire Conference game in Chillicothe. As a batter, Leamer smacked three hits and as a pitcher he limited Bishop LeBlond to two runs in 5-plus innings as the Hornets prevailed, 8-4.

Bouncing back well from their 12-1 spanking by Macon in the home opener two days earlier, the diamond Hornets mostly rode a big bottom of the fourth inning and Ga. Leamer’s strong pitching to the conference victory at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium.

Having established a 2-1 lead after one inning and inched the margin to two runs in the third, Chillicothe put a hammerlock on the victory in their fourth with five markers.

The big frame began with sophomore right fielder Wyatt Brandsgaard pulling one of five CHS extra-base hits in the game into the gap in left-center field for a leadoff double. Classmate Brock Miller, downshifted to No. 8 in the order from fifth in a flip-flop with fellow 10th grader Landon Winder, raked a triple to the opposite field, making it 4-1.

Following a run-scoring groundout to shortstop by Tucker Wagers, the top of the Hornets’ lineup restarted the assault.

Griff Bonderer, yet another sophomore, got an infield hit to the right side and took third as senior Mason Baxter singled to the opposite field (right), as well, where the ball was momentarily bobbled.

Ga. Leamer, already two for two in support of his own mound cause, made it a 3-for-3 day with a RBI hit to center and cleanup man Brock Ward socked the third extra-base hit of the inning – a long double to center field – for a 7-1 Chillicothe lead.

An error on a ball hit by Winder brought courtesy runner Alijah Hibner home from third to cap the 5-runs outburst.

As Ga. Leamer (2-0) neared his pitch-count limit, Bishop LeBlond nicked him for its second run in the top of the sixth with a hit, a passed ball, a steal, and a groundout.

Bonderer, another righthander, came on to get the last out of the inning, stranding a Golden Eagle at third to keep it 9-2 before seeing a couple of errors by teammates lead to an unearned final pair of BLHS tallies in the seventh.

Ga. Leamer, who surrendered a run on a hit in the first half-inning, exited having allowed two runs – both earned – on five hits and two walks and one hit batsman. He struck out eight in his 5-2/3 innings.

The Hornets’ first-inning scoring was delivered mostly by their legs.

Baxter walked with one out and advanced to second on Ga. Leamer’s hit to left. After the lead runner swiped third, the duo successfully pulled off a double-steal, Baxter sliding home with the tying run without a return throw to the plate.

Following Winder’s 2-outs single that sent him to third, Leamer was the trail man on another double-steal attempt that worked, diving past the Bishop LeBlond catcher to the fair side of the plate to give Chillicothe the 2-1 lead.

Baxter and Leamer generated another run in the third with a leadoff single to left, a double to left, and the speedy Baxter’s dash home from third when the BLHS catcher threw to first base to complete a strikeout of Winder after dropping the pitch.

Statistically, Chillicothe had a huge 16-5 advantage in hits, but also committed three errors to LeBlond’s two.

Individually with the bat, Ga. Leamer’s 3-for-3 game with a run scored and one driven in led a parade of six Hornets with multi-hits contests. Stroking two apiece were Brandsgaard, Max Wagers,  Ward, Winder, and Baxter, with the latter coming around to score three times.

Bishop LeBlond had only Chris Guldan, who went two for four, with more than one hit.

Both teams struggled in defending the steal, according to statistics shown on the Hornets’ digital scorekeeping site. The Golden Eagles were credited with seven stolen bases and CHS with six. Baxter and BLHS’ Jake Korell had three apiece.

Next for the baseball Hornets is slated to be another MEC home game. St. Joseph: Benton is due to visit Tuesday.

TRACK AND FIELD

Gavin Funk of Chillicothe (Mo.) HS easily clears the pole vault bar at one of its early heights during Thursday's (April 1, 2021) Chillicothe Open quintangular track-and-field meet at Chillicothe's Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium. Funk took third place in the event, clearing 9'1/4".

Stepping up in weight a bit (in wrestling and boxing parlance), the Chillicothe High School track-and-field athletes got a final preliminary measurement of their potential strengths and weaknesses in 2021 Thursday, April 1, before “getting down to business” next week.

Eight days ahead of their most-significant and prized home action of each season – the Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays and its approximately 15-schools field, the CHS girls and boys competed against athletes from larger schools than they had previously this spring Thursday when Excelsior Springs, St. Joseph: Lafayette and Benton, and Lawson came to Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II for an “open” (unlimited entries and, thus, no team scoring) quintangular meet in very pleasant conditions.

When the final runner crossed the finish line in the boys’ 1,600-meters relay, CHS’ teams had put together a solid-enough day which hinted at promise of a generally-successful season with hope for more.

The Lady Hornets won half of the 12 track races and added one field-event victory. The Hornets won five times, including three of the seven field events, even without entering any of the four relay races.

The “open” formatting for entries allowed potential contributors to success continue to emerge, particularly  important in this season as every program sorts through stunting impact of not having a 2020 season. The anticipation is that the performances of individuals and teams could change markedly between early-season meets and those in May.

Thursday’s meet saw only one Chillicothean take first place in more than one individual event.

That was junior thrower Damarcus Kelow, who uncorked a very strong 155’3” (47.32m) fling of the discus, a distance that would have won the Class 3 state title by a couple of feet two years ago. His long heave was more than 22 feet longer than the runnerup.

Kelow coupled that with a winning put of 42’8-1/4” (13.01m) of the shot, winning that event by about three feet.

The Hornets’ other field-event win was courtesy of senior Rudy Yutzy, who took the pole vault at 9’6-1/4” (2.9m).

In a hard-to-fathom photo finish at the end of a 2-miles-plus race, Chillicothe High School senior Hayden Simmer, right, and Tyler Rumore of Excelsior Springs arrive at the finish line of the 3,200-meters run in a virtual dead heat during last Thursday's Chillicothe Open quintangular track-and-field meet. After virtually 11 minutes of running, Rumore was electronically determined to have edged Simmer by .04 second to win the event.

On the track, senior Hayden Simmer – a first-time participant in track and field, but a distance-running veteran for the cross-country Hornets – found himself in two remarkably-close battles in the longest races, one of which he won and one he lost.

First, in the 1,600-meters run, Simmer led most of the way, but got a very strong, late challenge from Mason Wartner of Excelsior Springs before holing on by about a stride in 4:57.6. Wartner was a mere 0.3 second behind with a ESHS teammate, Tyler Rumore, third, only about 2.5 seconds back.

Later, in the second-to-last event, the three hooked up once more at twice the distance and, stunningly, produced an even-closer finish.

After circling the Litton Stadium all-weather track eight times, they stormed down the home stretch with Simmer again trying to hang onto his lead. Sliding just outside a lapped runner as they neared the finish line, in the final stride and a photo finish, Rumore was determined to have – after nearly 11 minutes of effort – nipped the Hornet by 0.04 second, 10:50.51 to 10:50.55. Wartner was third this time by about 3.5 seconds.

The loss was Simmer’s first in six races at those distances this spring.

The second Chillicothe race victory came from junior Quentin Cranmer in the 200-meters dash. He prevailed by about a half-second in 24.36 seconds, in addition to being fifth in the long jump and sixth in the triple jump.

Junior Isaiah Sprong of Chillicothe High School's track-and-field Hornets uncorks one of his attempts in the javelin throw during the April 1 Chillicothe Open quintangular meet at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II. Sprong took second place in the event with a best effort of 114'2".

Another junior, Isaiah Sprong, continued to perform well as both a runner and thrower. He finished second, albeit a distant second, in the javelin throw (114’2”, 34.81m) and the 800-meters run (2:24.7), as well as taking third in the discus at 123’2” (37.55m).

In the girls’ division, the Lady Hornets won three individual races and three relays, along with the discus throw.

On the track, a trio of freshmen romped to victories in races long, short and in between. Bronlyn Ward claimed the 100-meters dash by a margin of 0.18 second in 13.79, Reagan May took the 400-meters run by exactly one second in 1:11.64, and Jolie Bonderer strode home first by almost seven seconds in the 1,600 run in 6:02.3.

The Lady Hornets prevailed in the 800-meters relay in 1:57.8, the 1,600 in 4:37.5, and the 3,200 in 11:20.6. The margins in the first two were about 1.5 seconds and in the latter over eight seconds. Names of the runners involved were not reported.

Chillicothe High School sophomore distance runner Aliyah Briner yells in pain as she sprints toward the finish line in the 3,200-meters run during the April 1 Chillicothe Open quintangular meet at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II.

Off the track, the Lady Hornets might have had only sophomore Hope Helton’s triumph in the discus with a throw of 93’3” (28.44m), but they had some other successes, too.

Belle Englert and Madison Albaugh were 2-3 in the triple jump, Albaugh third in the high jump (and fourth in the 800), senior Maya Snyder third in the long jump, and Helton and Ella Leamer 4-5 in the javelin throw.

In terms of possibly-emerging contributors, freshman Jevon Kille was second in both boys’ distance jumps, classmate/teammate Sam Reeter second in the 400 and third in the high jump, and freshman Emmy Dillon second in the 300-meters low hurdles and third in the 100-meters highs.

TENNIS

At Kansas City Thursday, the green tennis Hornets came very close to unexpectedly defeating defending MEC tri-champion Kansas City: St. Pius X.

Behind seniors Caleb Corbin and Carter Allen, the CHS boys swept the top three singles sets and took No. 2 doubles. Had the close No. 1 singles gone their way, rather than to the Warriors by a narrow 6-8 margin, Chillicothe (0-3, 0-2 conf.) would have picked up a 5-4 triumph, rather than SPX prevailing by that score.

Ca. Corbin and Allen had perfect days, teaming to take No. 2 doubles 8-4, then returning to the North Kansas City courts to seize singles verdicts as well.

Ca. Corbin dominated his opponent at No. 2 singles by a dominant 8-2 count, but Allen’s set at No. 3 went down to the wire before the Hornet claimed the 16th game. That gave him the set 9-7.

In No. 1 singles, junior Chace Corbin followed up on his good day in the Cameron Tournament the day before with a decisive 8-4 margin over Robert Sharp.

“The junior continues to play well,” assessed Bob Long, CHS coach.

Earlier, he and Gabe Peterson had made a spirited bid to nab the No. 1 doubles set before St. Pius X’s Sharp and Joseph Kallenberger closed out an 8-6 triumph.

In No. 3 doubles, CHS’ Emmett Young and Shayden Hawkins fell 1-8. In No. 4 singles, Peterson was handled 2-8, while Young lost at No. 5 3-8 and Hawkins dropped the No. 6 set at love.

The tennis Hornets are due to get back in action Tuesday at home against Richmond. The home opener at the Daryl Danner Memorial Park courts will begin at 4 p.m.