Four members of the Newburg High School track team are hoping to make a mark at the Missouri Class 1 Track and Field Championships this weekend.
The Class 1 State Track Meet is set for today and Saturday at Dwight Reed Stadium on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Representing Newburg will be senior Austin Thompson in both the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles and junior Kylon Bales in the pole vault for the boys and sophomore Annalea Breedlove in the long jump and 400-meter dash and junior Renate Richardson in the 300-meter hurdles for the girls.
Today Thompson is to compete in the preliminaries of the boys' 110-meter hurdles around 1 p.m. and the 300-meter hurdles around 4 p.m.; Breedlove in the girls' 400-meter dash prelims around 3:20 p.m., and Richardson in the girls' 300-meter hurdle prelims around 3:50 p.m.
On Saturday Breedlove is to compete in the girls' long jump and Bales in the boys' pole vault at around 2 p.m.
The top eight finishers in each event at the state meet earn all-state honors.
The Newburg athletes advanced by placing in the top four at the Class 1 Section 2 Meet last Saturday at Fair Grove High School.
At the sectional meet Thompson won the 300-meter hurdles and was fourth in the 110-meter hurdles while Bales was second in the pole vault; Richardson was third in the 300-meter hurdles, and Breedlove was fourth in both the long jump and 400-meter dash.
"Renate's season has been stellar," said Newburg track coach Bill Towns. "She qualified (for sectional) in all four events and we hoped she'd get to state in a couple of them. Breedlove is really motivated; she doesn't like to lose. At the Frisco League Meet she was the anchor in the 4x400 (meter relay) and was 50 meters behind but she made that up plus some.
"Bales has come a long way. He vaulted 11-6 at the Frisco League Meet then broke (the school record) at 12-0 and then set a new record at district with 12-9. Thompson has only been hurdling for four weeks, so it will be interesting to see what he does (at state)."
The 12-9 vault that Bales had at the district meet is ranked No. 1 in the state among Class 1 vaulters entering the state meet. Fighting the wind, he only reached 11-6 at sectionals.
"At sectionals we had anywhere from 15-to-20 mile-per-hour side winds," Bales said. "I feel pretty confident, but I have to be more consistent."
Bales feels his best vault will be enough for all-state honors.
"I think another 12-9 should put me on the podium," Bales said. "Any where between 13-3 to 13-6 will probably win state."
There is a chance the state competitors will have to deal with rain over the weekend.
Page 2 of 2 - "Wet conditions don't bother me," Bales said. "Just wind; that can throw you off."
Thompson began hurdling on a dare and found out, to his surprise, he was state-caliber.
"One day toward the end of practice (Newburg assistant coach Matt Smith) told him to try jumping a hurdle," Towns said. "And he's been dominant pretty much ever since."
Smith, an all-state hurdler for Newburg in 2006 and the school-record holder in the events, has helped turn Thompson into one of the state's best in a short amount of time.
"Kylon convinced me to join track," Thompson said. "(Towns) made me jump hurdles. And Matt made me good.
"I never thought about (qualifying for state) until conference, when I got my first championship. It's a big surprise. Now I'd like to finish in the top eight; I want to get me a plaque."
It's a return trip in the 300 hurdles for Richardson, who also competed at state in the event in 2012. Her personal-best time this season is :50.75.
"It's gone really good this year," she said of her season. "I have gotten much better in the 100 hurdles and I've reduced my time in the 300. My high jump is about the same and our 4x200-meter relay (which she is a member of) broke the school record."
She said her state experience last year will hopefully make a difference this time.
"This year I know what is coming next," Richardson said. "I know a lot more about hurdling. I just want to qualify (for the finals) and get in the top eight."
Breedlove is ready to go as a double state qualifier.
"It's really exciting," she said. "I didn't think I would (qualify) at the beginning of the season. In the 400 I got a good time even though I only qualified fourth (at sectionals). But I was proud of my time. I think probably the long jump (is where I made the most progress). I think I know how to do it a little better now."
Her PR in the 400 is 1:02.45 and 15-11 in the long jump.
"If I can run 1:01 in the 400, I'll be happy with that," Breedlove said. "And if I can jump 16 feet I'll be happy, even if I don't move on. I think 1:01 will get to the (400) finals and I think 15-11 could get to the (long jump) finals."