Girls track vies for sectional team title

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RBHS track participants run the 800 meter event.

Brayden Parker

Senior Sienna Trice takes the lead during the 300 meter hurdles followed closely by senior Mallory Short. Trice received first place while Short placed third in the event May 4. Photo by Morgan Nuetzmann
Senior Sienna Trice takes the lead during the 300 meter hurdles followed closely by senior Mallory Short. Trice received first place while Short placed third in the event May 4. Photo by Morgan Nuetzmann
One week after the first team district title in school history, the girls track and field team is back in action. Turning their focus to the state championship, the team travels to Ozark High School in Ozark, Mo. this weekend to compete in the Class 4 Section 3 meet.
After advancing athletes in 13 individual events, the Lady Bruins will not only try to push people through to state but also vie for the Sectional Championship, using experience from the district meet to spearhead their efforts.
“Winning the district meet has really made us put the new goal up there of winning sectionals,” sophomore distance runner Sam Farmer said. “[We can] at least see how many points we can put up on the board.”
Although 14 girls finished in the top four at districts and have an opportunity to score points for the Bruins, all eyes will focus on four distance runners come Saturday. Farmer and fellow sophomore Kayla Funkenbusch, along with freshman Marilise Stamps and senior Megan Schulte all advanced in the 3200-meter run last weekend.
Typically, MSHSAA allows two entries per event in districts. However, after meeting the automatic qualifying standard of 11:23.41, all four runners were entered into the two-mile. This was the first time in Class 4 track history that such an event occurred. Farmer said she is excited for the opportunity to set even more of a precedent by qualifying four athletes for sectionals in a single event.
“The 3200 last weekend was really cool because we all got to run with our teammates,” Farmer said. “Doing that again this weekend would be beyond awesome because it’s never been done before, and we are the perfect team to do it.”
While sweeping the 3200-meter in sectionals would award the Lady Bruins with 29 points and help distance themselves from other schools in the quest for the Sectional title, the other events on the program are crucial in sending athletes to the state championship.
Three of the four relay teams have legitimate opportunities to finish in the top four and shave vital seconds off of their previous times. Stressing the importance of fine-tuning is the goal as the 4×800, 4×400 and 4×200 groups practice this week.
“My goal this weekend is to potentially drop a second in both of my races,” junior Elexis Ferguson-Cooper, a member of the 4×200 and 4×400, said. “I will be focused on my drills, making sure they are perfect to help my performance. The better the drill, the better the race.”
Along with the 3200-meter and the three relays, RBHS also has athletes entered in six other running events. Sophomore sprinter Makayla Jones is running the 200-meter dash, sophomore Margie Crosby is contesting the 800-meter run and senior Mallory Short leads the hurdlers in both the 100 and 300-meter hurdle events. Funkenbusch and Farmer are both contenders in the mile run, and junior Taylor McDannold rounds out the team in the 400-meter dash.
Aside from the track, the Lady Bruins have potential for points in the field as well. Jones and junior Maddie Wipfler will compete in the long jump, and Wipfler will double up by doing the triple jump as well.
The final member of the RBHS girls sectional team is junior thrower Mubinah Khaleel, a two time district champion in the shot put competition. Khaleel said she is excited about the recent individual and team success at districts, is anxious for this weekend and is thrilled with the possibility of winning another postseason team title.
“The possibility [of winning sectionals] makes me really want to work harder,” Khaleel said. “I have to do my best so I can help the team win.”
Ultimately, every athlete will be doing their best to help the team. With state championships in Jefferson City on May 24, the window of opportunity for extending an individual season is closing rapidly.
More than that, however, the athletes understand the true function of a team, and derive their desire to personally compete from past successes as a team and future opportunities to claim other titles, possibly the first track and field state championship in RBHS history.
“Winning districts makes me want to win sectionals and state as a team,” Khaleel said. “I want to work even harder now because I know we have a good team and we can do anything if everyone tries.”