Day Of 2nd Place Finishes Helps Eureka Girls Take Fifth At State Track Championships
Wildcats score 39 points in just six events, to finish just behind eventual champ Francis Howell. Lafayette High track athletes also took home some medals.
JEFFERSON CITY—As probably the youngest competitor at this weekend’s MSHSAA State Track and Field Championships at Lincoln University’s Dwight T. Reed Stadium, Eureka High School freshman Hannah Long was very nervous for the meet to begin.
Long wasn’t sure what to do to get ready or how she should act once it began.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Long said. “It’s my first time at state. This is such a big meet. I just wanted to do my best.”
Fortunately for the Wildcats, Long figured out one thing she could do that would help the team: Run really fast.
And that’s exactly what the she did in the three events she ran in on Friday and Saturday, which each produced a second-place point total—8 points each, which helped the Wildcats earn a surprising fifth place finish in the overall Class 3 girls team standings.
Eureka's 39 total team points was the highest for the Wildcats since they earned 45 points and finished tied for second in 2006.
“I’ve never been on a team like this,” Long said. “Every girl on the team works as hard as she can, and we all just try to do the best we can in every race. I love running with these girls.”
And the fans at Dwight Reed Stadium clearly loved watching Long run, as she delivered two incredible performances, in the 4x800 meter relay and in the open 800 meter run, which both almost made the Eureka freshman a legend in her first performance at state.
In the 2-mile relay, which was one of the first races of the day, Long ran the anchor leg for Eureka, and took the baton in sixth place, with two laps around the track to try to make up ground.
Incredibly, the Eureka freshman took off like a lightning strike and passed four of the five competitors in front of her, and landed the Wildcats a second-place finish in an event they were close to finishing last in.
Then about two hours later, Long was the only freshman in the field for the open 800, and beat everybody by at least 4 seconds, except eventual champion Valeska Halamicek of Francis Howell, who barely managed to keep Eureka’s emerging young star from passing her at the finish line.
Francis Howell wound up winning the Class 4 girls title with 48 points, but if Long had passed Halamicek at the end, Howell would’ve had only 46 points and would’ve come in second to Lee’s Summit West.
“She’s really tough,” Long said of Halamicek. “I thought maybe I could catch her, but I couldn’t get there. I’m just glad I got second.”
Long also took second in the open 1600 meter run on Friday.
Senior teammates Alana Hester, Laura King, and Kim Mitchell were also big contributors to Eureka’s effort.
Those three were on the Wildcats two sprint relay teams that finished second in the 4x200 relay and seventh in the 4x100.
King and Mitchell also earned points individually, with King taking sixth in the 100 meter hurdles, and Mitchell finishing eighth in the 100 meter dash.
The Lafayette High School girls track team didn’t have as many performers advance to the final day of the state championships as Eureka did, but the Lancers did get a bronze medal performance out of senior Mackenzie Schwietz, who finished third in the high jump on Friday.
Schwietz, who came into the high jump final seeded fourth, was one of only four competitors to leap as high as 7 feet, and did it in less attempts than the fourth-place finisher, Amber Alexander of Parkway North, to win herself the bronze.
Lafayette’s other medal winners were Kayla Hall, Katherine Kelly, Jessica Maddox, and Patricia Miller—the Lancers 4x400 meter relay team, which took eighth in Saturday’s final race of the day.
The Lafayette boys 4x400 meter relay team of Lucas Hake, Chris Orange, Khahyil Moore, and Jabrille Lewis also won the bronze on Saturday, finishing just behind eventual boys champion Hazelwood Central, and just ahead of second-place McCluer.
Lafayette also saw its boys 4x100 meter relay team advance to Saturday’s finals, but a problem during the race forced the Lancers to pull out before the race was completed.