KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Platte County coach Gabe Middleton couldn’t complain too much, even after a series of near-misses in a difficult Class 4 Sectional 4 field.The Pirates put six individuals competing in eight total events and a pair of relays through to the Missouri State Track and Field Championships, spread across five classes for the first time in state history. They didn’t see huge gains in qualifiers but posted some solid performances Saturday, May 23 at North Kansas City District Activities Complex on the campus of Staley High School.
Platte County senior Aliek Reed led the way, qualifying in the high jump and 300-meter hurdles while running a leg on both of the Pirates’ state-bound relays. Nathan Straubel, another senior, claimed first in the 3,200 after a shock runner-up finish in the 1,600 — both long-distance fields minus Clayton Adams (foot), the injured Kearney sophomore standout and favorite in both races entering the weekend.
However, three individuals on the girls side posted the most impressive performances.
Rebekah Geddes capped the showing in the 3,200, finishing the first mile in 5 minutes, 18 seconds — just off of her personal record in the 1,600. The Pirates freshman remained in solid position and passed Winnetonka sophomore Emma Evans in the closing stretch to claim a second-place finish in 11 minutes, 22.87 seconds.
That time bested her previous PR by more than 30 seconds and demolished the existing school record. Geddes now holds the mark, previously set at 11:40 by Ashton Stubbs.
“It was nice having good competition. That was helpful,” Geddes said. “I was really surprised. I think I’ll just do what I did here (at state) and see what happens.”
The day didn’t start out as well.
Platte County junior Hilary Mathurin didn’t make the cut in the 100 nor as part of the 4x200 relay, which finished fifth. She came back to place second in the 300 hurdles, which left her in a state of indescernible emotion.
The 48.21 finish set a personal best as she charged back late, but she lost to Harrionsville’s Madison Kittilstad by 0.2 of a second. Mathurin’s previous best came in 48.34 while winning the District 8 title the previous week.
That turned out to be Mathurin’s lone state event.
The 4x400 team of Mathurin, freshman Rachel Gilbert, sophomore Amanda Sullivan and senior Shelley Laures finished sixth and missed the state cut by more than 7 seconds. Laures earned a second straight state trip but will only compete in a single event.
A 10th place finisher in the Class 3 state championships last season in both the high jump and long jump, Laures entered with a chance to reach state in four events. Instead, the high jump will be her lone chance to grab a first medal.
Laures started the day in the long jump, a competition halted for a brief spell early due to unsafe jumping conditions. She struggled to deal with wet wood on the runway’s board and posted a sixth-place jump of 16 feet, 1/2 inch — more than a foot off her 17-2 school record set last week.
After a final attempt to better that mark, Laures left the area disappointed and immediately went into preparations for the high jump.
“I think I knew I needed to focus on one thing at a time,” said Laures, who holds a share of the school record in that event, set earlier this year at 5-6. “Worrying about long jump was not going to help me whatsoever, so I just had to clear it out of my mind and do what was best for me at that point.”
Laures went on to clear 5-1, placing third. The three state qualifiers helped the Pirates place sixth out of 22 teams with 52 points, just five back of fourth place Raytown South.
Platte County’s boys were fourth with 69 points, just one point back of Kearney, which missed out on big points from Adams.
Straubel led the 1,600 for much of the final two laps and appeared headed toward a comfortable victory. Instead, Warrensburg senior Trent Classen charged back in the final 25 meters and lunged ahead of Straubel to win in 4:29.16.
Finishing in 4:29.22, Straubel knew what happened and looked around in shock, mouthing, “I didn’t know he was there.” He came back and led start to finish in the 3,200, while teammate Nolan Orf benefited from Adams’ absence, spending much of the race in second or third before winding up fourth with the final state spot at 10:10.36 — more than 30 seconds better than his district time.
Winning by about 10 seconds, Straubel went 9:51.78.
Reed placed fourth in both the high jump (6-1) and 300 hurdles (40.08), the latter his newest individual event. He also ran a leg on the 4x200 team (Reed, senior Devin Perry, senior Aaron Brown and junior Lloyd Lockett) and 4x400 team (Reed, Brown, Lockett and sophomore TJ Guillory), which both placed third.
The 4x200 set a season best at 1:30.94.
Of the state qualifiers, Straubel, Reed and Brown have previously medaled. Straubel placed sixth in the 3,200, while the other two were on the fourth-place 4x400 team that set a school record at state in 2014.