Miller wins state gold for Lady Tigers
JEFFERSON CITY -- Up until her final event Saturday, Malta Bend sophomore Lynzi Miller was playing follow-the-leader.
Miller had finished behind Columbia Independent School senior Khristen Bryant in four races, but absent that competitor in the long jump it was a climb to the top of the medal stand.
"I'm pretty proud, especially since I'm a sophomore and have two more years," Miller said after receiving one of her three state medals.
Miller came up short of that only once, placing ninth Friday in the triple jump. However, she had qualified for the finals by placing second in the preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdles (15.36 seconds) and 100-meter dash (13.04).
The next day, Miller was fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.91) and second 100 dash (12.77), with Bryant breaking the tape only .13 seconds in front of her when lined up shoulder-to-shoulder in the latter race.
"She helped me try to take some more strides at the very end, which is difficult to do," Miller said. Bryant "helps out a lot, gives a lot of good advice," especially beneficial to an athlete who lacks experienced teammates on the Lady Tigers' squad.
Miller began the long jump playing catch-up to top-seeded New Haven sophomore Lauren Gerlemann, who set the bar at 16 feet, 2.75 inches with her first attempt. That distance held up through the preliminary three jumps, but on the second one of the finals Miller hit 16-9 and on her final turn Gerlemann came up three-quarters of an inch shy of that mark.
Malta Bend wound up in 11th place in the girls' team standings, with Miller collecting all 23 points.
It was also a good day for Sweet Springs senior Kortnee Vaught in the pole vault, placing third with a personal-record nine feet -- while Bryant was setting a new Class 1 standard at 12-6.
"I always do better in front of all the pressure," Vaught said. "Getting into those highly-tense situations really helped me out."
Vaught was flawless at every height until the last one, not missing an attempt until the bar was set at 9-3 for her second state medal, having finished eighth a year ago.
"I was seeded sixth or seven, so didn't know how things were going to come out," Vaught said. "It feels really good to end on such a high note."
The Lady Greyhounds took eighth place in 400-meter relay (53.70) with freshmen Sydney Vaught and Kylee Winfrey and juniors Alexa Winfrey and Tori Hinton -- who also medaled by coming in eighth in the 100 (13.39).
Santa Fe junior Kylee Kuecker also enjoyed a personal best in the pole vault, her 8-3 good for eighth place. Senior Kylie Limback closed her career with a third medal in the 400 (1:01.63), coming in fifth. The Lady Chiefs (5 points) tied for 29th place among 50 teams scoring, while Sweet Springs (7.5) was slightly ahead in 24th place.
Santa Fe senior Luke Schmidt went into his last event seeking to salvage a meet which had been somewhat disappointing earlier, missing the finals in both the 300-meter hurdles and triple jump.
"It was a little rough," Friday in the 300, Schmidt said. "I hit a couple of hurdles and stumbled."
It was smooth sailing in the 110 hurdles (15.59), improving .46 seconds from his time in the prelim to take a silver medal (15.59), .21 seconds behind School of the Ozarks senior Keaton Tillack.
"I felt way better than last year," when he was third at 15.74 seconds, Schmidt said. "I thought I could beat Keaton, who beat me last year by a tenth of a second. We were close again this year."
Senior Ben Reeders was third in the shot put (46-9.25), nearly two feet longer than his seeded mark, as the Chiefs (14) wound up in 19th place. Malta Bend junior Lucas Eberting was sixth in the long jump (19-3.5), also an improvement upon his sectional throw.
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