The Rolla and St. James track teams both traveled to Carthage for the Class 4 and Class 3 Sectional 3 Meets on Saturday, May 19. Both schools found a lot of success on the day, as Rolla advanced in five events, while St. James advanced in seven.
The Bulldogs had the first State qualifiers of the day, as Nick Janke kicked things off with the high jump. The S&T commit tied his PR in the event by clearing 6'4". That was the second highest bar cleared, but Janke finished third based on jump attempts. The top four advance, so Janke qualified in the event for the second straight year.
Janke isn't the only Rolla high jumper headed to State either. Courtney Colench followed with a qualifying run of her own, clearing 4'11". She finished in a tie for fourth and advanced to State after needing fewer jumps to clear her final height. She was nearly joined by teammate Kassandra Hayes, who finished with a height of 4'10".
The next qualifer was Nnamezie Orizu, who qualified in both the 110m and 300m hurdles. Orizu ran the 110m hurdles first, finishing in third place with a time of 15.03. He missed out on second place by .01 seconds. He then placed fourth in the 300m hurdles, claiming the final qualifying spot by 1.1 seconds.
Between those races, Olivia Holmes was able to earn a spot in the State Meet with a fourth place finish in the 400m dash. She finished with a time of 1:00.41, edging Sullivan's Bria Jones for the final spot by .03 seconds.
St. James qualifiers:
The Tigers had a very interesting start to their day with Grant Conway. Conway qualified Sectionals in four events and seemed to be destined to have the same luck heading into State. That didn't prove to be the case when he lined up for the 110m hurdles, his best event. The Tiger junior tripped on a hurdle and fell completely to the ground. He got up and finished the race, but took eighth place. On the bright side, that opened the door for teammate Conner Gorrell, who took third place in the event with a time of 16.34 to qualify.
Conway didn't have much time to recover, as he instantly had to run the 100m dash. He was able to recover from a minor injury and finish second in the event with a time of 10.98. Conway then dominated the 300m hurdles, as he has all season, winning with a time of 38.94. He won the event by 1.3 seconds. Conway rounded out his day with another second place finish, this time in the 200m dash with a time of 22.59.
But Conway was far from the only Tiger to qualify for State. He was also not the only Sectional Champion. Also earning that honor was Tyler Recker. The junior won the long jump by a comfortable 5.5 inches with a leap of 21'9.5".
St. James also had some great success in the relays. The Tigers earned a trip to State in the 4x200. After getting behind early, St. James made a great push in their middle legs of the race to finish in third place with a time of 1:33.23. The team consisted of Austin Ridenhour, Cade Snitker, Nick Halbrook and Carter Keeney.
The only Lady Tiger to qualify for State was Heather Pankey. She finished in fourth in the 400m dag with a time of 1:02.27. She held onto that fourth and final spot by .52 seconds.
Both Rolla and St. James had several competitors just miss out on qualifying for State. For Rolla, Caleb Turner was able to match his PR of 12'9" to finish in a tie for fourth, but Webb City's Treyton Simmons needed fewer attempts to clear the height. Rebecca Janke missed out on a trip to State in the javelin by just 3'1" with her sixth place throw of 114'9". The girls 4x200 team took fifth place with a time of 1:48.66, missing out on fourth by just .44 seconds. Emma Puetz added fifth and sixth place finishes in the 1,600m and 800m runs.
For St. James, Kasey Strong nearly qualified in both the high jump and the pole vault. She was one inch short in the high jump, clearing 4'11", while the fourth place finisher cleared 5'. She also finished sixth in the pole vault, three inches short of the fourth place finisher. Keeney narrowly fell short in the javelin, as his throw of 148' was 4'7" shy of the fourth place finisher from Cassville. Mason Parker took fifth in the 1,600m run, missing fourth by just over four seconds. The 4x100 boys relay team was just .06 seconds short of qualifying with their fifth place time of 44.70, while the girls 4x400 team also took fifth place, missing out on fourth by less than three seconds with their time of 4:20.5.
Rolla and St. James will compete at the State Meet in Jefferson City on Friday and Saturday, 25-26.