Track competes through heat, prepares for districts

Junior Matt Bush pole vaults and successfully clears 13 feet. Later he topped 14 feet, a personal best and milestone for Bush. Photo Illustration by Asa Lory
The track team braved soaring temperatures and intense sun at the Rock Bridge Invitational Saturday, May 5 at the RBHS track. Although the Bruins’ only competition was Helias, the team still had good showings in many of their events.
Head Coach Neal Blackburn said the top performances included senior Shannon Amiot’s pole vault of 10 feet, senior Nathaniel Egharevba’s height of six foot three inches in the high jump, junior Mallory Short and junior Christina Oyelola’s performance in the 100 meter and sophomore Evan Shulte’s time of 4:35, freshman Lucas Harrington’s time of 4:39 and freshman Samantha Farmer’s time of 5:28 in the 1600 meter.
Blackburn said many athletes only competed in one or two events at the meet in order to stay fresh and healthy for next week’s district meet.  It also allowed the athletes to get mentally prepared for next week’s meet which will be held in Jefferson City.
“Part of it is just to give them the confidence to see what it feels like to be running for a win or competing for a win,” Blackburn said. “Some of our kids are having some of their best field event performances of the season.  It just shows them they’re ready to do well next weekend.”
Junior Morgan Brown raced in the 300 meter hurdles Saturday, which is the same event he will be participating in at districts. He said the meet provided him with one final opportunity to prepare himself before districts. At the same time, it gave him things to work on heading into the final week of practice which will be more focused on technique.
The meet “helps you get your times down and try to get your final [personal record] before you go into districts,” Brown said. It “gets you in the mindset of how fast you need to be getting out and you can try to win.”
The meet’s only purpose was not just to prepare runners for districts, it gave seniors on junior varsity their final chance to race for Rock Bridge. Senior Brandon Bramstedt said the highlight of the meet was getting to run on a 4X100 meter relay. Bramstedt is a distance runner and would never run a 100 meter sprint; however, since it was his last meet, Blackburn allowed several of the senior distance runners to be sprinters for a day.
“Usually the seniors do something stupid so coach decided to put four of his seniors that were distance runners in the 4X100 meter relay, we got killed, but it was fun,” Bramstedt said. “It’s nice because our coach runs it, we can have fun, there’s no pressure. It’s a good way to end your running career.”
Blackburn said the most important part of the meet today was to give the seniors one last race after the hours of hard work they put in for the team in their RBHS careers.
The meet “is great because they get to finish on their home track.  They get an opportunity to compete with their friends and get to perform in front of their families,” Blackburn said. “I just like the idea that they get to finish where it all began, giving them something to compete for at the end of the season if nothing else for pride and personal bests. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we hold this event to give them an opportunity to do that.”
By Thomas Jamieson-Lucy