State Track Championships: Days 2 and 3
The Jags had a busy weekend on and off the track, as our team was represented in the hurdles, distances, relays, jumps, and throws over the three day meet. Our women’s team scored 24 points and finished in seventh place, a return to the top-8 after finishing in fifth place a year ago. Youth represented the men’s team at the state meet, with a freshman and sophomore qualifier, and we avoided the dreaded Zero on the board when KJ Saunders secured a podium finish in the high jump.
For KJ, the second half of the season was filled with lifetime bests. After finishing second at both the SPSL Championships and the West Central District Championships, KJ was poised for a great showing in the high jump at state. After clearing 6’3” on his second attempt at the State Championships this weekend, he looked positioned to finish in the top-3 as others struggled at the height. KJ had two great attempts at 6’5”, which would have matched our school record, but after going out at that height, some of those that had struggled at the previous height moved ahead of him in the standings by clearing 6’5”. At the end of the day, KJ stood on the podium in a tie for seventh place. KJ becomes the first freshman boy in school history to medal at the State Championships.
Senior Mareonna Henderson capped a great career at Emerald Ridge by earning podium finishes in two events. After placing fifth in the preliminaries of the 300 hurdles on Friday, Mareonna ran a great race in the finals, and matched her preliminary seed by finishing in fifth place, earning four points for the team score. This marks the fourth consecutive time that Mareonna has qualified for state in both the 300 hurdles and the 4x400 relay.
Her fellow hurdling senior teammate, Karlee Stueckle, also had a stellar weekend. Karlee ran the second best time of her life to finish in second place in the 100 hurdles, narrowly missing out on defending her title in the event (14.26). She followed that up by running the fastest time in the preliminary heats of the 300 hurdles by over a second and then successfully defended her State Championship in the event on Saturday. Karlee’s time of 42.20 is the seventh fastest effort in state history, and is less than a half second away from her all-time state record performance of 41.76 set two weeks ago. Karlee scored 18 individual points toward our team score.
Kar and Mar were joined by freshman Carley Huber and sophomore Sophia Brown on the 4x400 relay. After finishing in seventh place and qualifying for the finals, the team matched that performance by finishing seventh in the final, narrowly missing out on 5th place, but standing proudly on the podium and scoring two points toward our team score. Alternates for the relay included Sydney Colbern¸ who ran a great leg at districts to help the team qualify for state, and Roz Slichko, who ran a strong leg at the SPSL Championships to qualify for districts.
Freshman Roz Slichko also competed in the last individual event of the weekend, the 4A women’s 3200 meters. Roz put herself in a position to compete with some of the best girls in the state but as the pace continued to pick up, it proved too much for most of the field as girls began to string out. By qualifying for state, Roz becomes the first freshman athlete, boy or girl, to qualify for state in a distance event. Roz is looking forward to many more state appearances on the track.
We had a great year with many school records going down, several grade-level records, and numerous marks in the top-10 all time. Our team is also overwhelmingly comprised of freshmen and sophomores, and we are looking forward to building a strong foundation as those young athletes continue to develop over the next few years. Thank you for your support all season!