When boarding the bus to leave the Missouri Class 4 Section 3 Meet in Lebanon last Saturday the members of the Rolla High School track team girls’ 4x400-meter relay squad were probably thinking about where they were going to eat dinner, not about the state meet.


They’re thinking about state now.


Against the odds a young Lady Bulldog 4x400-meter relay squad will be making its second consecutive appearance at the Missouri Class 4 Track and Field Championships today.


The Missouri Class 4 Track and Field Championships will be held at Dwight T. Reed Stadium on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City today and Saturday.


Junior Caryn Ranney, sophomores Shandy Crall and Grace Hofheins and freshman Claire Victor will be representing Rolla at the state meet today, making up the RHS girls’ 4x400-meter relay squad in the preliminary race. The prelims begin at 6:30 p.m.


When boarding the bus to leave the Missouri Class 4 Section 3 Meet in Lebanon last Saturday the members of the Rolla High School track team girls’ 4x400-meter relay squad were probably thinking about where they were going to eat dinner, not about the state meet.

They’re thinking about state now.

Against the odds a young Lady Bulldog 4x400-meter relay squad will be making its second consecutive appearance at the Missouri Class 4 Track and Field Championships today.

The Missouri Class 4 Track and Field Championships will be held at Dwight T. Reed Stadium on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City today and Saturday.

Junior Caryn Ranney, sophomores Shandy Crall and Grace Hofheins and freshman Claire Victor will be representing Rolla at the state meet today, making up the RHS girls’ 4x400-meter relay squad in the preliminary race. The prelims begin at 6:30 p.m.

If the squad makes it to Saturday’s 4x400 finals it will be held at 4:10 p.m. Also, senior Ijeoma Okafor would likely be added somewhere in the mix for the finals. Okafor will be part of the graduation ceremony at RHS tonight.

It appeared the Lady Bulldog 4x400 team’s hopes of a state berth were dashed last Saturday at Lebanon. The team placed fifth in the 4x400-meter relay sectional race.

The race was the meet’s final event, so the Lady Bulldogs began loading up the bus to return to Rolla.

Not so fast.

Columbia Hickman, originally the third-place finisher in the race, was disqualified for elbowing and bumping at the finish line. That result moved Waynesville to third place and Rolla to fourth place. The top four finishers in each event advance on to state competition, thus moving the RHS squad on to Jefferson City.

“If we hadn’t been getting the final results we would have been loaded up and gone,” said RHS head coach Don Knapp. “We had loaded up the tent, cleared up our area and we were just waiting for the printed results.

“We saw there was controversy on the track but we didn’t know what it was. I saw some bumping earlier in the race. But they called bumping at the finish line. It didn’t affect us one way or the other during the race.”

But it sure did after the race. Knapp was notified of the decision, which allowed Rolla to avoid a rare Bulldog state meet shutout.

The Rolla time is ranked 15th of the 16 schools in the prelim race. And losing state meet veteran Okafor for today’s race will make things all the more difficult.

Rolla’s anchor runner, Crall, all season long has been recovering from a severe ankle injury she first suffered during the cross country season in the fall. And it will be the first taste of state competition for both Victor and Hofheins.

So it’s no stretch to say the Lady Bulldogs are going to have to run the race of their lives to get to Saturday.

“We’re looking at it a couple of ways,” Knapp said. “We’re looking at it as experience for next year. Except for E.J. (Okafor) all four of these girls will be back. Also we’re looking at it as a chance for these girls to step up and go beyond where they have been. And we expect they can do that.”

Knapp feels his rested squad can improve much on its sectional time of 4:06.4.

“Caryn ran four events last week,” Knapp said. “Shandy and Claire were both in three events at sectionals. We’ll be totally fresh for prelims. Our girls were not fresh and still took almost three and a half seconds off their time at sectionals. We’re hoping to run at least as fast as we already have (today).”