At Saturday’s Class 5 Sectional 1 Meet, the Jackson track and field teams came away with 12 top-four finishes for a total of 16 Indians to qualify for this year’s state championship meet.
Both teams won six events as the boys came away with two sectional championships and finished fourth place with 68 points. The girls team had a total of three runner-up finishes and took seventh overall with a score of 52.
Junior Donya Marx won the Indians first sectional championship by taking the top spot in high jump with a leap of 6-feet, 4-inches. This was Marx’s first sectional title, but it wasn’t his only first-place finish of the meet.
Marx later competed on the track as a member of the 4×400 team along with juniors Aaron Brown, Caleb Craft and sophomore Daniel Dickerson.
This team managed to win the race with a time of three minutes, 27.12 seconds, which is the first sectional title in the event during head coach Jim Stoverink’s 12 years with the program.
“[Dickerson] ran a great leg and had us in good position to contend for the top four,” Stoverink said. “From there, Caleb Craft and Donya Marx executed the pre-race strategy perfectly. Both of them found the right position to draft, and then came off of the second turn and moved up down the home stretch with the wind at their backs.
“When Aaron Brown got the baton for the anchor leg we were in second place right behind Nixa. Aaron let the Nixa runner break the wind for him down the back stretch, then as they came off the last turn he moved out and outsprinted Nixa to the finish line for the sectional championship.”
Brown and Craft also qualified for state individually like Marx as Brown took second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.86. Poplar Bluff senior Xzavier Bartlett took first at 50.51.
Craft competed in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, and he placed in third in the 110 (15.49) to advance to state.
The Jackson boys final two top-four finishes came on the field as senior pole vaulter Jack Rinehart tied for second in his event with a 14-0 mark. He tied with Poplar Bluff junior Gage Rowland, while Branson junior Reagan Ulrich took first with a 16-6.
Jackson’s final male athlete to qualify for state was sophomore Connor Tollison, who placed fourth overall in the discus throw with a heave of 133-8.
The Jackson girls only had one field athlete qualify for this year’s state meet, which was junior pole vaulter Erin Huff, who took second place with a leap of 10-6. Ozark senior Olivia Lyon took first at 12-0.
Qualifying for state in three events was none other than senior Kennedy Bauer, who helped the 4×800 team take second, placed third in the 1600 and fourth in the 800. Bauer recorded a time of 5:23.83 in the 1600, which was only .7 seconds behind first-place finisher Fox senior Amie Martin (5:23.13.)
Bauer ran along with fellow senior and best friend Kaylee Wilson in the 800, finishing with a time of 2:26.09. Wilson also qualified for state in the event by taking third place at 2:22.66, and this time was .77 seconds behind sectional champion Ozark senior Brocklyn Barber (2:21.89).
Bauer and Wilson were both apart of the 4×800 team along with junior Ashlyn Prince and freshman Layla Fliege to post a time of 10:04.96 for second place.
The final Indian to qualify for the state meet was freshman Ryleigh Kilhafner in the 100-meter dash, who didn’t let the pressures of a big meet get to her. She took second in the event by crossing the finish line at 12.58. Ozark junior Ashley Childers won the race at 12.45, only .13 seconds ahead of Kilhafner.
Brown, Huff, Rinehart and Wilson each earned Class 5 All-State honors at last year’s state meet, which will begin this Friday in Jefferson City.