Heading into this past weekend’s Class 1 State Championships for track and field, Van-Far head coach Kevin Baldwin knew his team had a chance to do something special.
After all, the Indians traveled to Jefferson City with the opportunity to score team points in 12 of the 19 events after a successful State Sectionals one week earlier.
The Indians went into the two-day event focused and determined. They left with the school’s first ever state title in the sport.
Van-Far scored 68 team points, holding off second-place Rich Hill by 22 points to cruise to the championship.
“We knew going into the meet that we had a chance of winning it all if we performed well,” said Van-Far head coach Kevin Baldwin. “I told the kids that our goal for the meet was to focus on the things we had control of and not worry about what everyone else was doing. Basically, focus on one event at a time and do our best on that event. Many times teams get so caught up in winning the meet that they fail to focus on each individual event. As the meet progressed, it became obvious that we were going to win. The hard part was to stay focused and continue to do our best until it was final. I am so proud of these young men. Their work ethic and attention to detail is impressive. They definitely deserve to be State Champions.”
Van-Far had two state champion relay teams.
The 4×100-meter squad of Jacob Garner, Trevor Crider, Parker Wallace, and Sharrod Connor had the fastest preliminary time. They finished things off on Saturday after holding off Rich Hill right at the finish line to win the race by just .04 seconds with at time of 44.58.
As for the 4×200-meter relay team, they had the second fastest preliminary time but brought their “A-game” in the finals.
Verlyn Johnson, Garner, Wallace, and Connor ended up breaking the school record with at time of 1:31.85 to win the state title. Their time was just .16 seconds away from tying the all-time state record in Class 1 for the event.
Connor just missed winning state titles in both the 100 meters and 200 meters.
It took a rare tiebreaker to determine the winner of the 100-meter race. Since Connor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lane Wilson crossed the finish line at the same time, a tiebreaker showed Wilson won the title by just .008 seconds.
In the 200 meters, Connor had the fastest preliminary time. Unfortunately, Rich Hill’s Jacob Querry just past him at the finish line in the finals as Connor placed second just .13 seconds back.
Garner just missed qualifying for the finals as he placed sixth in a brutally tough heat. He ended up with the ninth fastest time and was just .02 seconds back from the runners who qualified for the finals.Wallace had the third fastest time in the preliminaries for the 400 meters. He followed his first day run by placing second with a time of 51.22 seconds, just .16 away from a state title.
Wallace then teamed with Alex Flowers, Johnson, and Crider as the 4×400-meter relay team had the third fastest preliminary time.
In the final race of day two, they took fifth with a time of 3:33.878.
The 4×800-meter relay team of Lathyn McMorris, Tyler Robinson, Sam Hazel, and Crider placed sixth in their event with a time of 8:35.55.
McMorris also shined in individual races.
He had an impressive second-place finish in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:27.62.
McMorris was then third in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:13.69. He also scored more team points in the 800 meters by placing seventh with a time of 2:02.62.
Crider had the second fastest time in the preliminaries on Friday with a time of 42.23. Unfortunately, the field cut down on their times in the finals as Crider found himself scoring one team point with an eighth place finish with a time of 43.19 seconds.
As for the pole vault event, Garner cleared 10’09” but was in eighth place, just missing an eight place finish necessary to score one team point.
(Editor’s Note: See our four page tribute to the champions on Pages 1B-4B in this issue.)