With one of the largest senior classes in program history, Park Hill South wants to take a large group to state and try to score some points.
The Panthers were sixth in the girls and boys team standings in Class 5 Sectional 4 last season, and Maryn Burns (long jump), Sarah Russ (triple jump) and Vanessa Crawford (pole vault) were the lone senior individuals to compete there. While the relays will have to restock, there’s reason to believe the state contingent and state performances can improve this season.
Nylo Clarke, Marti Heit and Dymeria Guillory will help lead the way toward the postseason for Park Hill South.
“I really like what we’re seeing so far,” Park Hill South coach Clay Lenhert said. “Traditionally, we haven’t had a whole lot of seniors out and this year we have more seniors than we have had in quite some time so a lot of returners back keep us pretty excited.”
Of the seniors who went to sectionals in individual events, only Burns advanced to state, placing 15th in the long jump.
Clarke advanced to state in four events but hopes to make up for a somewhat disappointing meet. Signed to continue his career in soccer and track at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Clarke opened with a false start in the 100-meter prelims then suffered another disqualification on the 4x200 with Jordan Bell, Tanner Alderson and Ryan Rippy.
Clarke ended up posting the No. 4 qualifying time in the 400 then set a school record at 48 seconds flat in the final, finishing in second place. The 4x400 of Jared Hernandez, Michael Garrison, Rippy and Clarke also failed to medal.
Of Park Hill South’s three state qualifying relays, Rippy, Clarke, Garrison and 4x800 members Eli Guzman, Brendan Briody, Tyler Dunn and Jacob Prososki all return. Rippy and Clarke were a solid 1-2 tandem in the open sprints with Rippy just missing state berths in the 200 and 400.
“I think our senior class is very strong with a returning state runner up in the 400, and our sprinters are looking are very strong,” Prososki said. “We’ve got some guys that are definitely going to step up and do some damage at the state meet this year in distance events.”
Guillory grabbed Park Hill South’s only other medal, setting a personal record in the 100 hurdle preliminaries before dropping to seventh in the final.
However, the Panthers have all of the returners back on their 4x800 team of Heit, Jasmine Crawford, Lexi Maddox and Emma Roth. Heit also went to state in the 3,200 while Crawford and Maddox were close to berths in long distance events, as well.
The 4x800 team of Jasmine Crawford, Marti Heit, Lexi Maddox and Emma Roth placed 13th. Heit took 16th in the 3,200, while Maryn Burns came in 15th out of 16 in the long jump preliminaries.
Jasmine Case, now a sophomore also had a strong Sectional 4 debut in the high jump and 100 hurdles.