In her final high school competition, the North Platte senior successfully defended her 100-meter dash title and collected three medals in the Class 2 Missouri State Track and Field Championships this past weekend in Jefferson City, Mo. She finishes as a two-time state champion — the only individual titles in program history — with nine career top-eight finishes at Dwight T. Reed Stadium.
By any measure, Nash goes down as the most accomplished girls track athlete to compete at North Platte, and she badly wanted the second individual title to cap off her career.
“I just wanted to come out and do it again,” said Nash, who leaves with the school record in the 100 (12.24 set at this year‘s KCI Conference Meet). “I had no reason to be nervous. Everybody would’ve been proud of me no matter what I did, but I’m just so hard on myself that I felt like I had to do it.”
Nash won the 100, placed third in the 200 and ran a leg on the fourth-place 4x100 relay. Those events accounted for 21 of North Platte’s 28 team points, which put them just three away from the top four in the final team standings and the corresponding team trophy.
With Nash leading the way, the Panthers won the Class 2 District 8 title — a program first — and topped the Sectional 4 standings last week, although no official champion is recognized.
“The accomplishments really meant a lot because it just makes me so happy to see how much this team has progressed over the past four years,” Nash said. “My freshman year, I was by myself at state and sectionals. Then sophomore year, eight of us made it (to state). Junior year, a lot made it to sectionals.
“It’s been our team’s goal every year to get as many through to state as possible. This year, we made it happen.”
Nash finished the 100 final Saturday, May 23 in 12.29 seconds, 0.18 of a second faster than her No. 1 prelim time posted the day before. She held off Russellville’s Jordan Barnhart by 0.06 of a second in the final and turned in a showing better than 2014’s 12.64 winning time.
In the 200, Nash posted the No. 3 time in prelims with a school record 26.01 and held that spot in the finals, finishing behind Hamilton’s Morgan Prather and Barnhart. Nash nearly matched her prelim effort exactly (26.02) to beat Charleston’s Danitra Jones by just .01 of a second.
Nash medaled in both the 100 and 200 at state each of her final three seasons but posted her best finish in the lengthier sprint this past weekend with a breakout performance.
“I don‘t even know what happened,” said Nash, who set the school record at 26.25 as a sophomore before lowering it to 26.15 in last year’s state prelims and crushing that mark twice this past weekend.
The medal in the relay helped best her 2013 medal haul, the only other season where she won three.
The team of Nash, Callie Pataluna, Emmie Lee and Abby Fisher came into the final seeded fourth and stayed in that spot. The quartet posted a school record 51.43 in the prelims and then placed fourth in 51.59.
Pataluna, Lee and Fisher are all underclassmen with Lee the only one of that trio with previous state experience.
Pataluna added a fifth-place finish in the long jump during Friday’s portion of the meet. She went 16 feet, 8½ inches on her second jump of prelims, a personal-best distance by a half inch that held through her final four attempts and beat out East Buchanan’s Josie Fortney by an inch and Butler’s Amy Miller by 1¼ inch in a tightly packed bunch between third and seventh place.
“I didn‘t think I‘d get to stand on that (medal) stand the first time I was here,” Pataluna said. “The second time for the relay was the cherry on top.”
Wilson won the final medal in another consistent showing.
Sixth out of prelims, the senior and first-time state qualifier finished the final in 17.15 to place sixth. She went 16.92 in prelims to better her sectional qualifying time by more than a half second.
Wilson, Gracie Roach, Lee and McKenna Fulton were sixth in the first heat of the 4x400 relay prelims but were 10th fastest in 4:22.60, about 2½ seconds out of a spot in the final and another medal for North Platte. Katie Parkhurst, a sophomore, placed 14th in the 3,200.
West Platte sophomore Sydney Oberdiek won a pair of third-place medals, accruing 12 points as the Bluejays’ lone qualifier — tied for 21st in the team standings. The first-time qualifier threw 109-11 on her final attempt in the discus on Day 1, going from fifth to third.
Oberdiek followed that up by posting her best distance in the shot put on her sixth and final attempt, a 35-4½ effort that moved her up from fourth past Ash Grove’s Sydnee Cashio.
“It was definitely an experience I‘ll never forget,” Oberdiek said. “Going to the Capitol, getting to meet all these new people, see great talent all across the board in all of these events.
“Watching people, you get a lot of things you might want to tweak in your own performances.”
Jerry Copenhaver, the North Platte boys’ lone state qualifier, posted a 17.33 finish in the Heat 2 of the 110 hurdles preliminaries, good enough for sixth and 10th overall. He qualified out of sectionals at 17.49, but the improved time still left him more than a half second off of a spot in the finals.
A senior, Copenhaver became the first boys athlete for the Panthers to reach state since Charles Stubbs in 2005.