Down to his final attempt, Glaywulu went from well out of the top four in the triple jump during the Class 5 District 8 meet Saturday, May 16 at Kearney High School to champion. He reeled off an effort of 44 feet, 9½ inches after injuring his right knee during his first prelim attempt.
Glaywulu went just more than 39 feet on that try while feeling a pop in his knee, skipped his next two jumps and scratched on the first two of three tries in finals. His final jump tied him with Oak Park’s Marvin Joseph, also hurt during the competition after slipping on a wet board, and Glaywulu won the event on a tiebreaker.
“I just thought about it: freshman, I made it to state,” said Glaywulu, an eighth-place medalist in the event during last year’s Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships. “I think people who made it to state like their sophomore year but don’t make it their junior year sounds ridiculous, so I couldn’t let that happen. My last jump, I just said, ‘Leave it all on the track,' and track is my love; track is my life.
“So I just went full speed, everything I got in it, and the Lord did the rest.”
Glaywulu left after the early morning triple jump competition to have his knee examined, all part of a trying day for Park Hill and coach Rob Self.
The Trojans finished third in the final team standings with 93½ points but might have been closer to the top two — Liberty North (153) and Staley (151½) — if not for some other bad luck. Alijah Gee — tied for the top seed in the high jump — did not compete in his events due to a death in the family, while returning state qualifier and distance specialist Kyle Pudenz was scratched due to a calf injury.
In addition, senior Kenyatte Harris — a state medalist in the 400-meter run last year — injured his hamstring while running in the 4x100, which missed the sectional cut, and he could not compete in the 400 or 4x400 later in the meet.
However, Park Hill junior Chris Nilsen continued his solid year and posted victories in the pole vault and high jump, and he helped the third Trojans relay reach sectionals by filling in for Harris in the 4x400. Nilsen bettered his own school record and the best pole vault mark in the state this season by going 16-0 for the first time in competition to win a battle with Liberty sophomore Kyle Rogers (15-6), who broke a 37-year-old school record along the way. Nilsen said the elevated runways placed in the middle of the football field provided a little extra spring, and he felt good from the start.
Going back and forth, Nilsen and Rogers celebrated each other’s successful vaults. Nilsen missed on three tries at 16-4 after winning the competition.
“It’s always more fun to compete with someone, and not just someone, but one of your close friends,” said Nilsen, whose previous best was 15-7. “It felt like more of a friendly competition than raising the stakes.”
Nilsen also won a tiebreaker at 6-2 in the high jump to claim Park Hill’s only other individual title.
Enock Koudou, a senior, came in second in the 100 and third in the 200, while running a leg on the third-place 4x200 along with Kentrez Bell, Jamaal Brazil and Harris. The 4x800 of Thomas Barker, Noah Barajas, Christian Fisher and Hanok Tekle also finished third while the remade 4x400 was fourth.
Park Hill South’s 4x800 of Darrien Case, Mitch Henderson, Alexander Lee and Eli Guzman posted one of the best times of the weekend in the entire state, running an 8:07.83. Case took the baton in third and quickly worked around the anchor legs from Staley and then Park Hill before easily holding off Staley at the line.
Last year’s, 4x800 quartet, which also included Case and Henderson, owns the school record at 7:55.25, set while placing fourth at state last year.
Case, Henderson, Tanner Alderson and Nylo Clarke teamed up to place second in the 4x400, just unable to catch Liberty North. The Panthers finished in 3:24.02 and were just .05 of a second behind the winners but comfortably into sectionals looking for a second straight state berth.
Case also won the 800 in 1:54.67, just more than a second off the school record he set earlier in the season, with Henderson in second. Clarke posted a surprise win in the 400 from lane eight, finishing in 50.57 to beat Oak Park’s Makram Tutu by 0.1 of a second.
Clarke’s previous best was 52.79. Tanner McClaran, a Park Hill South senior, also shattered a personal best to top the discus field. He threw 152-10 after entering with the seventh-best qualifying throw at 139-9.
While Park Hill South’s boys were fifth, the Panthers girls were third with 114 points, just six out of second.
Jordan Hammond led the way with a victory in the 300 hurdles, a runner-up showing in the 200 and a leg on the sectional qualifying 4x400 team. She went a season-best 44.72 in the 300 hurdles to easily outpace Kaley Breault of Oak Park.
“Thought it was a PR, but I didn’t think it would be that big,” said Hammond, who came in with a qualifying mark of 47.49.
All four of Park Hill South’s relays were in the top four, and Hammond, Maryn Burns, Emily Day and Emma Roth were second in the 4x400. The 4x800 team of Jasmine Crawford, Keely Danielsen, Emma Roth and Erin Stump was also runner-up.
Burns ran on both the 4x400 and 4x200 teams through to sectionals and added a second-place finish in the long jump 17-5¾.
Park Hill’s 4x100 team placed third just in front of Park Hill South and was the lone quartet to qualify for the Trojans. Mercedes Robinson claimed their only individual title in the 3,200, posting an 11:54.91 to hold off Park Hill South Lexi Maddox, second in 11:58.64, with Park Hill South’s Marti Heit grabbing the fourth and final spot.
Taiya Shelby, a freshman, placed second in the 400 at 58.78 for Park Hill, which finished a distant fourth behind Park Hill South in the final team standings.