SPARTA — It was the day for the field events to take center stage Tuesday — Day One of the 2019 Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference Track and Field Championship at Highland High School. Throwers and jumpers, along with only a relative few runners, faced off in their finals events.
Highland’s Erin Conner (36-feet-1) and Centerburg’s Halle Moreland (34-feet-10) finished first and second, respectively, in the girls shot put. For Conner, it was a better toss than what she predicted to Highland Athletic Director Mike Delaney, right before her turn.
“I just told Mr. Delaney, ‘I’m going to go up there and throw 34 (feet). I’m just going to do it,’” Conner said. “So I did it. Sometimes, it’s just attitude.”
The mental part of the sport is very important to Moreland, too.
“There’s been a lot of getting ready,” Moreland said. “I’ve been trying to get in the right state of mind.”
Long jumper Rachel Wilson (15-feet-1.50) of Highland was a close second to long jump winner Julianna Ditullio (15-feet-2.75) of Northmor.
Area runners sealed up the only girls running event finals to be held on Day One, grabbing all three top spots in the 4×800 meter relay. The Centerburg quartet of Aeryn Walters, Abigail Dickhof, Elise Tucker and Avery Tucker crossed the finish line in a time of 10:15.48. That was nearly three-quarters of a minute faster than Fredericktown’s Sadie Sanders, Nichole Groseclose, Emma Linhares and Abby Wilson, who were second with a time of 10:58.50. Highland’s Camberly Schade, Jordan Schauer, Miachele White and Jade Disbennett were third at 11:28.45.
Fredericktown’s Celeste Swihart finished second in the girls pole vault. Her 9-foot leap was only six inches shy of finals winner Allison Johnson of Mount Gilead.
“I tied my PR, which was really great,” Swihart said. “I’m looking forward to the future. I’ve got three years left to do as much as I can.”
In the high jump finals, Emily Opfer of East Knox and Bella Spencer of Fredericktown, along with Olivia Millisor of Mount Gilead, all cleared 4-feet-8. Millisor’s teammate, Isabela Schroeter of Mount Gilead took first place, however, leaping 4-feet-10. Opfer was awarded second, Millisor third and Spencer fourth.
“That was a PR for me, today,” Spencer said. “I had a couple of issues with getting my body over the bar, but today, I put it all together.”
In the discus finals, Danville’s Makayla Brown’s hurl of 92-feet-6 was good enough for third place, behind Mount Gilead’s winner Kelsey Kennon (115-04) and her teammate Skylar Edwards (100-feet-4), who was second. Conner wound up fifth in the discus, while Moreland was ninth.
Area boys were highlighted by the East Knox high-flying duo of Anthony Gilmore and Chase Darr, who performed as well as expected in the high jump. Gilmore finished first, leaping six feet. Darr and Blake Miller of Northmor, both cleared 5-feet-10, with Miller finishing second and Darr third.
“I struggled a little bit early,” Gilmore said. “We had some pretty good competition with the Northmor guy and my teammate, Chase — he’s feisty. I finally pulled it together at the end.”
The Bulldogs also took the top two spots in the long jump. Darr (18-feet-9.25) was second to his teammate, Nathan Whitney of East Knox, who leaped 19-feet-7 to place first.
Ben Reigel of Centerburg was second in the shot put finals with a heave of 42-feet-11. Only event-winner Mount Gilead thrower Micah Tuggle’s toss of 49-feet-4.25 was better.
Tuggle (132-feet-9) was tops in the boys discus, as well, with teammate, Nick McKinney (130-feet-8) of Mount Gilead, finishing second. Reigel (117-feet-8) was third. Fredericktown’s Nick Laher, who also had a 117-feet-8 toss, was fourth, with East Knox’ Bryan Hockenberry (117-feet-6) close behind.
“I was only a foot off my PR in the disc,” Reigel said. “It was a real tight finish. There’s still a lot to improve before districts. I want to make regionals and, maybe state.”
Steven Tumbleson of Fredericktown and Northmor’s Tony Martinez, both cleared 12 feet in the pole vault, but Martinez was awarded first and Tumbleson was second.
In the 4×800 meter final, Fredericktown’s foursome of Connor Riley, Dakota Smith, Thomas Caputo and Paden Spencer finished second with a time of 8:26.29. Mount Gilead’s team of Liam Dennis, Trevor Ball, Nathan Weaver and Casey White won with a time of 8:16.28.