Marshall boys second in NCMC meet
Compared to where it was during Paul Thomas' first year as head coach, the Marshall boys' track and field team has come a long, long way.
That was evident Tuesday during the NCMC Championships at MHS' Wayne O'Neal Track, the first time the school has hosted a conference meet since a 1975 event at Missouri Valley College's Gregg-Mitchell Field. After finishing dead last with 22 points in 2001 and fourth with 63.5 points a year ago, the Owls accumulated 117 points as runner-up to Hannibal -- which won its fifth straight title with 236 points.
"Our kids competed well, both boys and girls," Thomas declared. "It was a great meet, a great atmosphere, and exciting for Marshall."
There was plenty for local fans to cheer about. The Owls' two No. 1 seeds both came through, senior Ben Jacobi getting his first victory in the 100-meter dash (11.28 seconds) and all-state junior Shaun Berning recording his best time of the season in the 800 (2:01.47). In addition, junior Josh Deaton seeded sixth, pulled off a shocker by winning the long jump (21 feet, 1.25 inches) -- adding over a foot to his previous top distance.
Even without gold medals, some other Birds flew high. Senior Shannon Frauenhoffer lowered his personal record by .84 seconds while placing second in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (41.70). Junior Justin Cary's fourth-place run in the 400 (51.98) was 2.36 seconds faster than at any point this season. Senior Alfred Laney increased his long jump (20-4.5) by 11.5 inches while coming in fourth.
Jacobi cut .20 seconds off his time in the 200 (23.27), placing third, and senior Aaron Kleinschmidt was fourth in both the 100 (11.51) and 200 (23.86). Senior B.J. Coslet (42-5) finished third and senior William Weinreich (40-3.5) sixth -- improving his distance 9.5 inches - in the shot put. Two freshmen earned medals in the distance races: Michael McCampbell in the 1,600 (4:46.05) and Jeremy Glassmaker (10:34.84) in the 3,200.
As expected, the 1,600-meter relay was a battle, with Jacobi, Cary, Kleinschmidt and Berning finishing second (3:31.57) to the Pirates by 1.7 seconds. Jacobi, Laney, Kleinschmidt and Berning were also second in the 800 (1:33.45) -- clumsy exchanges providing some slight delays for both groups. A marked improvement, .40 seconds, was made by the fifth-place 400 relay (45.73) quartet of Deaton, Laney and seniors Adam Nichols and Michael Bradley. Cary, Glassmaker, Berning and junior Justin Frauenhoffer were third in the 3,200 (8:32.23).
"For this time of the year, I was happy" with the marks, Thomas said. "This is what we should be doing."
The Lady Owls, who lost athletes which were instrumental in getting seven medals a year ago, were nearly as good with a much younger squad -- going from 56 points for seventh place in '02 to 51 points and a tie for sixth. Rock Bridge defended its title with 154.5 points, a 13-point margin over Helias.
It seems the only way to keep junior Linze Leimkuehler from winning these days is to hold her out. The two-time all-state sprinter claimed her fourth gold medal of the season in the 100 (12.33) and third in the 200 (26.24).
The reliable high jump duo of senior Sam Narron (5-0) and junior Ashley Schlotzhauer (4-10) finished right behind Fulton senior Emily Omohundro, matching her top 5-6 mark. Senior Megan Kennedy went from sixth in the discus last year to third (106-1).
While the Marshall girls had no other medalists, there were plenty of gains. Freshman Nikki Cooley set personal standards in the long (14-0.5) and triple (30-2) jumps and sophomore Julia Stubblefield (28-11) and freshman Nicki Bacon (28-10) were at their best in the shot put.
Freshman Jessica Morton (6:20) put in her best showing in the 1,600 (6:20) and junior Marina Lesina knocked off some time in the 800 (2:51.94) and 1,600 (6:29) -- as did freshman Jill Collins in the 800 (2:50.56) and sophomore Alicia Harris in the 3,200 (14:28.83).
Overall, there was much to like about the Owls' performance, but an even more vital test is coming up Saturday during the Class 3, District 4 Championships at Mexico. Only the top four in each event will advance to the sectional meet the following week, and Thomas wants to improve from the four entries the Marshall boys had at state last year.
"We're going to do what we need to do to get kids through," he declared. "Hannibal's the class of our district, but our kids showed they will compete with them."