TRACK PREVIEWS: Mexico track and field excited for old, new faces

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 3/22/23

You lose some but also gain some.

Mexico track and field is experiencing that this season as it returns four of its state-qualifying athletes from last season but will be without a few more.

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TRACK PREVIEWS: Mexico track and field excited for old, new faces


You lose some but also gain some.

Mexico track and field is experiencing that this season as it returns four of its state-qualifying athletes from last season but will be without a few more.

Its 4x400-meter boys relay team returns seniors Morgan Grubb, Anthony Shivers and sophomore Tyler Grimes, 100-meter dash state qualifier Shivers and 3,200-meter run state qualifier senior Thomas Peuster. Evan DiBlasi is the one name that doesn’t return for the relay team that took seventh — Mexico’s first 4x400 boys team to be top eighth since 1999 — after he transferred and Haden Frazier, who competed in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at state last season, graduated to play soccer at Jefferson College.

“Our talent will be spread around a bit generally the same people,” head coach Buck Green said. “It’s too soon to know how well we will do, but our goal as always is to make our athletes as successful as they can be.”

Green said he’s excited for some athletes to compete in events who qualified for sectionals last season like Grubb in the pole vault but can’t wait to see how seniors Dante Kelley and Jordan Shelton do in events such as the long, triple and high jumps. He said they should help the boys team “immensely” and bring speed along with potential.

Sophomore Andrew Peuster returns to lead the distance runners with his brother, and others returning include junior Guy Fairchild, and sophomores Alex Rowan, Davontae Frame, Eric Vega and Taye Potter.

Green said the girls side brings lower numbers this season but has returners that include junior Alexis Smythe, senior Sidney Turlington, junior Ella Raines, sophomore Lucy Gleeson and senior Messiah Simpson. Sectional thrower Kaylee Hampton isn’t back because of graduation and is one of a few Lady Bulldogs that advanced as far as sectionals last year and runners Riley Thurman and Cora Ransom also graduated.

Among the newcomers that should help the team, Green said, are freshmen Alexandra Terry and Emma Seibert and senior Viviana Benjamin.

The coaching staff isn’t immune to these types of changes as well as Green said the mainstays of Lucas Breneman and Austin Miller are back, but Josiah Atterberry, Arien Gilmore and Leslie Dickherber — who was an All-American in the shot put at Northwest Missouri State in 1997 before coaching at Smithville — join the staff.

Community R-6 track and field want to reach many accomplishments

While Community R-6’s track and field team consists of many younger athletes, the team likes its chances to reach goals just out of reach a year ago.

The Trojans came away from its fourth season with a presence at the state meet as senior Victoria DiSalvo competed in the 100-meter hurdles after qualifying in the 300-meter hurdles as a sophomore.

DiSalvo finished 14th in last year’s meet and looks to return as the team’s hurdles and relay anchor specialist. Head coach Trent Pummill said that besides DiSalvo are many promising returning athletes that just missed out on a state season.

“(DiSalvo) is the anchor of our 4x100 and 4x200, which consists of fellow senior Sarah Angel, who has been to state on a relay team her sophomore year as well,” Pummill said. “On the boys side, junior Aaron Carter and senior Gavin Allen came close to breaking our school shotput record last season multiple times and they also were members of our 4x100 relay team that missed out going to state by one second.”

Eight of Community’s 24 track and field athletes this year are returning, Pummill said, and many of the newcomers are first-time track athletes. Still, Pummill said he likes the exciting future prospects there, especially with the large freshmen class on the girls side.

Pummill said one of Community’s several goals this season is to extend the state streak to five years, hopefully with one of its retooled relay teams for the boys and girls. At the Central Activities Conference meet, the Trojans want to place in the top three after the girls missed out of that last year by eight points.

The team broke three school records last season but was close to setting even more so Pummill said he hopes the girls’ 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles record of 17.25 and 51.43, respectively, owned by DiSalvo fall. The 4.3-meter long jump mark and 400-meter dash time of 1:10.17 are also reachable as Angel was within .01 second of breaking the 400-meter mark at districts last year.

Van-Far track and field brings in new faces, facilities

Van-Far track and field has new facilities and a lot of new faces this season.

After a summer that saw the school opening a new eight-lane track and field areas, the boys have 18 athletes this season after having six last year and the girls are up to 16 from 10.

Head coach Kris Cross said this brings new possibilities for the team, including relays.

“I’m excited to see how they will do this year with being able to put together more relays with the increase in athletes,” Cross said. “There is a group of 8 freshmen (boys) who came up from junior high and did pretty well there that we are excited to add. We are excited to add other (girl) athletes that should help us out in throws and sprints.”

A key returning face is also the only Van-Far athlete that saw sectionals last season in junior Gage Gibson. He finished fourth in the 300-meter hurdles at the district meet prior to taking eighth at sectionals.

Cross said there is a group of girls returning that ran mid-distance to distance races including senior Madelynn Caldwell and sophomores Erin Childs and Abbie Shelton. They each medaled in some meets and so did senior Hailey Lowry, who competes in the javelin.

“Our goal this year is to always see all our athletes improve throughout the year,” Cross said. “We also would like to see more athletes make it to sectionals and hopefully to state.”

North Callaway track and field to rely on experience

North Callaway will have several veterans going out for track and field this season.

The team of 64 athletes has a majority of underclassmen but has eight seniors and 14 juniors that the Thunderbirds will be relying on this season.

Two of those seniors Brendan Reinhard and Caleb Rohrbach were the school’s lone sectional athletes who ultimately fell short of state qualification. Reinhard was all-district in the high jump after a 6-2 third-place mark and Rohrbach was third in the shot put with a mark of 43-11.25 but came in eighth and seventh, respectively at sectionals.

“We had a good season last year, led by several seniors,” head coach Reid Randolph said. “It will be a challenge to replace their production, but I think that we have the kids to do it.”

Also among the seniors for North Callaway are thrower Ellie Bedsworth, mid-distance runner Gabe Heuer, jumper Jalyn Leible, pole vaulters Mathias Lobb and Carson Safranski, and long sprinter Gavin Rasmussen. Leible was one spot shy of qualifying for sectionals last season in the triple jump.

“Overall, we have a relatively inexperienced team this year with some veteran athletes in the mix,” Randolph said. “Right now, for the boys, our long sprinter/mid-distance group is emerging as a pretty strong group. For the girls, it is looking like we’ll have some strong performers evenly spread throughout the events. Our outlook for the season will depend upon our veterans performing to their potential and the development of everyone else.”

Junior Owen Trout and sophomores CJ Cunningham and Clayton Moore make up the boys mid-distance and long sprinter group, and junior Isiah Craighead finished one spot of sectional qualification in the javelin. Junior distance runner Pressley Schmauch provides the girls side a promising performer as a state qualifier for state cross country in her first three years.

Among the newcomers are freshmen such as thrower Kymorie Myers, sprinter, jumper and thrower Olivia Knoepflein, long sprinter and mid-distance runner Grace Rasmussen, and sprinters and jumpers Dalton Brewer, Austin Brown and Dane Kemp.

Missouri Military Academy's Powell returns after near miss at state track meet

Missouri Military Academy track and field has a few promising athletes returning this season.

Namely senior Bryson Powell, who finished 10th in the 1,600-meter run at the Class 2 state meet a season ago to just miss a state medal by two spots. Powell is also coming off his second cross country state medal after he finished 10th in the Class 2 state meet.

Sophomore Ryan Miles also competed in the 1,600 meters at sectionals a year ago for the Colonels.

Gabe Canonico was the third Colonel at sectionals but was competing in the 110-meter hurdles, where he finished third to join Powell at the state meet. Canonico finished 16th at the final meet of the season.