Wildcat track with eight moving on to state

By Christopher Tenpenny

There will be several Wildcats making the trip to Jefferson City tomorrow as eight Harrisonville track and field athletes qualified for the Class 4 State Track Meet following their performances at sectionals in Warrensburg Saturday.

Senior Makiah Clark was the first to qualify for the Wildcats as she finished fourth in the pole vault with a height of 8-11.75.

This will Clark’s second consecutive year advancing to state in the pole vault.

Joseph Michel punched his ticket next, finishing second in the 100 meter dash with a time of 10.68 seconds. Michel would not be done there as he would finish second in the 200m dash and was the anchor in the 4x100m and 4x200m relays, both of which finished in first place. It is not often an athlete gets to participate in the maximum amount of events at the state track meet.

“It is pretty rare to have someone qualify for four events at state and Joseph is a gifted athlete that has the talent to be able to not only complete that task, but to also perform well at that level,” Harrisonville head coach Brian Bliss said. “He also has a great support system in his family and his teammates that want to see him succeed and help him be able to achieve his goals.”

Joining Michel in the 4x100m relay are Jace Reynolds, Nate Reynolds and Adysen Eng. Michel and Jace Reynolds were members of the 2021 4x100m relay that won first at state. The Cats will look to defend that title with the addition of freshmen Eng and Nate Reynolds.

Michel and both Reynolds are joined by Dawson Schrock in the 4x200m relay. Schrock also qualified for the 300m hurdles with a time of 40.59.

The Cats had two athletes qualify in the 300m hurdles as junior Madison Johnson makes her first trip to state, finishing fourth. Johnson has had quite the road to state in the 300m hurdles. Last season as a sophomore, Johnson finished fifth at sectionals by 0.01 seconds, just missing the cut. This season, Johnson got out to a big lead and was poised to run her fastest time of the season before she tripped over the final hurdle. She fell to the ground, but quickly got up to finish the race. As she crossed the finish line, it was impossible to tell if she had finished fourth or fifth. When the official times came out, Johnson finished with a time of 48.98. Fifth place finished with a time of 48.99.

“Any coach hates to see an athlete work so hard all season to fall short in the postseason,” Bliss said. “MJ handled her adversity well and got up and finished the race and, because of that, ended up qualifying. It is an agonizing sight to see as a coach, but I was proud of her for not giving up and finishing the race.”

On the girls’ side, Clark and Johnson will be joined by freshman Kayleigh Norris. Norris qualified in both the 400m dash and 800m run, finishing fourth and third. Bliss said he was not surprised at all to see Norris qualify for state her freshman year.

“I realized during our off-season training that Kayleigh had a great work ethic,” Bliss said. “I think the reason she is a good competitor and has made it this far is because of her work ethic and the fact that she is mentally tough. She enjoys running and the spirit of competition and those are two great attributes to have to be successful in our sport.”

The Class 4 State Track Meet will begin tomorrow in Jefferson City and go into Saturday.

“Our expectations of our athletes at the state track meet are for them to give their best effort on the track competing and enjoy the opportunity they have to be there,” Bliss said. “It is an honor for them to have made it to this point and to be in the top 16 in their event in the state. With the training we have done in the offseason and during the season, we feel they are as prepared as they can be to compete and perform well this weekend.”