The Panthers coasted to a team title at the North Platte Invitational on Monday, March 30, and the collective group secured a balanced and dominant effort at North Platte High School. The Panthers topped the field with 145 team points.
West Platte came in second with 63½ despite having only three medalists.
“Overall, I was very pleased,” North Platte girls coach Derek Colburn said. “I thought we were consistent. There’s not going to be a perfect night. I thought there were areas we need to get better at, but there were a lot of areas that surprised me and I was very pleased with.”
North Platte senior Baylie Wilson began the third leg of the finale relay in second place but gave the Panthers the lead with a furious charge down the front stretch. McKenna Fulton then held off a comeback attempt from second-place Braymer to cap off the home win with another victory.
Maddie Lee and Emmie Lee ran the opening two legs to set up the dramatic finish.
“McKenna, she started off, and I was like, ‘Let’s go,’” Wilson said. “The other girl caught her on the corner, and I was scared for a minute. (Fulton is) a freshman and she’s a ball of fire and she can kick it there no matter what.”
North Platte senior sprinter and defending Class 2 Missouri State Track and Field Championships’ 100-meter dash champion Regan Nash took home three more golds for her impressive medal collection. Her first came in the 100, finishing in 12.47 seconds to narrowly nip University Academy’s Jurnie Scott at the line.
Nash, a University of Missouri softball signee, finished her night with an easy win in the 200 (26.90).
“It felt great,” Nash said. “I just want to go out and do the best I can this season. I want to do the best I can in every race. I know there’s still a lot (of season). I just have to keep pushing every race and helping my teammates throughout the season.”
Nash’s performance on the anchor leg of the 4x200 relay (1:55.62), which started with Abby Fisher and Brittney Gerling, drew some of the loudest roars from the spectators in the stands of the evening. Nash took the handoff from Emmie Lee, trailing Van Horn by 30 meters, but Nash’s burst erased the entire deficit and turned it into a win by almost a full second.
Van Horn came in at 1:56.53.
“When Regan just focuses and goes, she can do some impressive things,” Colburn said. “Her legs turn over so quickly. She has that focus and that drive. When she’s not worrying about anything, the sky’s the limit of what she can accomplish. She did a great job for us tonight running that.”
North Platte’s 4x100 team (Callie Pataluna, Fisher, Emmie Lee and Gerling) supplied the fifth victory for the Panthers, who collected a slew of runner-up showings.
Emmie Lee (300 hurdles, 51.00), Wilson (100 hurdles, 17.75), Katie Parkhurst (3200, 14:10.38), Pataluna (long jump, 15 feet-9 inches) and the 4x800 relay team of Bailee Romaker, Shelby Fisher, Fulton, and Erin Manville (11:42.03) all claimed second. Romaker (fourth, 3,200), Fulton (third, 100 hurdles), Gracie Roach (third, high jump), Pataluna (fourth, triple jump) and Mackenzie Daniel (third, discus and shot put) rounded out the Panthers’ medalists.
“It just gives us a good measuring marker for where we want to be,” Colburn said. “If you are starting at the beginning if the season and you are performing well, it pushes you to perform better and better throughout the season. It puts you at a higher lever at the end of the season when you are in conference and districts and sectionals when we want to be at our absolute highest performance.”
Sydney Oberdiek grabbed two of West Platte’s three medals, placing first in the discus (101 feet, 7 inches) and second in the shot put (31-3). Emily Norman tied for fourth in the 100 hurdles (20.63).
The Bluejays brought only nine to the 15-team meet.
“I thought we ran real well for what we’re looking for,” West Platte coach Brad Basel said. “Someone told me our girls took second. With nine girls here participating, that’s pretty incredible for a (15-team meet) if we took second. We had 23 or 24 personal records and our whole goal is to get faster every meet so I can’t ask any more of them than that.”
On the boys side, East Buchanan easily won the team title with 103 team points. North Platte finished fifth with 64½, and Jerry Copenhaver — one of two seniors on the squad — brought home the only win, claiming the 300 hurdles in 43.69. He also came in third in the 110 hurdles.
Blake Romaker — the Panthers’ other senior — contributed two medals of his own with a fourth-place showing in the 1,600 and a third in the 800. Eric Brown (second, pole vault) and Gentry Scrivner (third, shot put) grabbed the final two medals for North Platte.
West Platte finished 13th with 25 points, and senior Daniel Cicha brought in the only two medals, fourth in the 3,200 (11:30.38) and second in the 1,600 (5:10.00).