Track and field athletes achieve new personal records at Lutheran South Invitational, prepare for postseason

Anjali Noel Ramesh, Editor-in-Chief

The RBHS boys’ and girls’ track team competed at the Lutheran South Invitational this past Saturday, May 7. This meet marks the end of regular season and the beginning of the competition for the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) state title. The boys placed at least one athlete in the top three in the 100-meter dash, 800-meter run, 1600-meter run, 200-meter relay, 800-meter relay, long jump, pole vault and shot put. Similarly, the girls placed at least one athlete in the top three in the 100-meter dash, 1600-meter run, 100-meter relay, 200-meter relay, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, long jump, pole vault, discus and shot put. Both teams emerged champions of the overall meet.

Head coach Neal Blackburn said the weather, which varied between 52 degrees Fahrenheit and 66 degrees Fahrenheit in the Lutheran South High School region, allowed all athletes to perform at their peak level.

“I think yesterday, because we finally had a good weather day, they finally had a chance to see a lot of their hard work pay off because we didn’t have bad weather,” Blackburn said. “This allowed for their efforts to be seen so I think there was a lot of excitement surrounding their performances and I think that’s the momentum we need as we go on into the postseason.”

Junior Ian Kemey placed second in the 1600-meter run, and said going into the race he knew he would need a time less than 4 minutes, 21 seconds—the district standard—in the preliminary rounds to qualify for the finals. He said he was happy with his 4 minute, 15.33 second finish overall.

“Mentally it was pretty standard placing [and] doesn’t mean too much for me until we get to the postseason,” Kemey said. “But getting a medal is always a nice feeling, of course.”

In the rest of the individual performances, multiple athletes achieved personal records (PR). Junior Grace Parsons, who placed fifth in the 400-meter dash finals, 20th in the discus finals and participated in the 400-meter relay and 800-meter relay—both of which won first place—said her 1 minute, 1.15 second time on the 400 was close to a second shorter than her previous record, making it her new PR. She also said she felt the success of the relays on the girls’ side, paired with her PR, put her and the team in a good place going into the postseason, which begins Saturday, May 14.

We are incredibly excited for [the district meet] and ready to lay it all out on the track. We are working hard during our workouts and runs, in addition to taking care of our bodies and minds.”

— Addison Wheeler, freshman

“This week will consist of harder workouts to prepare us for the weeks to come,” Parsons said. “We definitely have a lot of work to get done, but I’m super excited to see how it goes. I would absolutely love to go sub-60 [seconds] for my 400 and then throw over 100 feet in discus. Those have been huge goals since the beginning of the season, and I’m excited to see how the postseason turns out.”

Fourth-place finisher in the 3200-meter run freshman Addison Wheeler said, like Parsons, the overall success at Saturday’s meet will fuel her and the team to prepare for and enjoy the final few meets of the 2022 track and field season.

“We are incredibly excited for [the district meet] and ready to lay it all out on the track,” Wheeler said. “We are working hard during our workouts and runs, in addition to taking care of our bodies and minds.”

Though the team knows when to joke around and be playful, Kemey said they also know the high stakes of the coming weeks. He has multiple goals he would like to achieve by the end of postseason.

“I’d like to make it to [the MSHSAA state championships and] to then place within the top four for every event I hypothetically run,” Kemey said. “I’ve got some time goals, but most important to me is placing high at state to get points for the team as we try to become one of the [smallest] group of schools to [win back-to-back state titles] in track.”

Blackburn said he will be more specific in coaching the team this next week at practices, as runners look to shave seconds off their existing times and field athletes attempt to reach new heights and throw farther distances.

“We continue to prepare the same that we always have, we’re just a little bit more intentional about the little things, heading into postseason meets,” Blackburn said. “We just really want to get the events through to the next rounds that have shown they are capable of being at the top or near the top in their respective events at the state level.”

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