Grant Downes walked off the track at Excelsior Springs High School seemingly disgusted with his victory.
In the close of the 110-meter hurdle finals, the Park Hill junior swam across the finish line clearly in first, but after clipping a few hurdles, he didn’t seem happy with the result in the Class 5 District 8 meet Saturday, May 14. A coach then informed Downes he set a new personal best in 15.29 seconds, which changed the outlook.
“I thought I was behind,” Downes said. “I told myself, ‘I have to go,’ so I did.
“I thought I ran slower than usual, but I guess all in a day’s work.”
Downes endured an up-and-down day for Park Hill, a top-heavy team with hopes of pursuing a top-four team trophy in two weeks at the Class 5 Missouri State Track and Field Championships. The Trojans won five events and totaled 123 points — second in the final team standings behind Liberty North (145).
More comfortable in the 110s, Downes ended up sixth in the 300 hurdles with Park Hill South’s Grant Hudson grabbing the final sectional spot in fourth. Downes also ran one of three relays for the Trojans to advance on to next week.
Park Hill’s strength remains in its individual potential.
In a slight off day, Chris Nilsen won the pole vault at 16 feet, 9 inches. He cleared 16-0 on the first try and then celebrated with Liberty’s Kyle Rogers when he went over the same height for the first time.
Rogers just recently came back from injury and stopped at that point with Nilsen assured of the win on tiebreakers at that point. With a personal best of 18-0 set in the Suburban Conference Red Division championships, Nilsen went up to 16-9 and cleared that before missing three straight tries at 17-3.
Park Hill’s Kyle Timmerman also advanced in the pole vault, finishing fourth.
Nilsen then went on to win the high jump with a new personal best of 6-8 with teammate Alijah Gee also advancing at 6-4. He ended up fourth in a three-way tie for second with Park Hill South’s Tavin Severino third.
Like Nilsen, Park Hill junior Papay Glaywulu also advanced in a pair of events. He went 43-1 ¾ to win the triple jump but ended up second in the long jump at 21-7½. A two-time state qualifier in the triple jump, Glaywulu added long jump to his schedule full time this year with positive results.
“I focused on it more,” Glaywulu said. “I got rid of high jump, and that kind of left space for something for me to do, and long jump was there.”
Glaywulu set his season best in the long jump at 22-6½, and Liberty North’s Tyler Lamport won Saturday’s event with a 23-2 effort. Glaywulu’s winning leap in the triple jump was more than 5 feet behind his school record set in the KU Relays earlier this year.
“I knew (the potential) was there. I just had to find it,” Glaywulu said.
Seven Wilson rounded out Park Hill’s sectional qualifiers in field events, placing third in the shot put.
Hunter Lund won the other individual for the Trojans in the 3,200, outsprinting Liberty’s Max Martin down the final 100. Lund’s victory came after he missed a spot in the 1,600, finishing fifth in a competitive field.
Park Hill’s 4x100 (Downes, Glaywulu, Kentrez Bell and Jackson Foutch) and 4x200 (Foutch, Bell, Damaney Johnson and Dorian Clayton) were both third place. The 4x2 team beat Park Hill South’s team of Jordan Bell, Tanner Alderson, Moti Sarbessa and Jared Hernandez for third by a little more than a half second.
Park Hill South advanced three of four relays to sectionals, helping the Panthers finish fourth in the team standings.
The 4x800 team of Eli Guzman, Brendan Briody, Tyler Dunn and Jacob Prososki opened the meet with a runner-up finish, unable to hold the top seed with Liberty winning by about 2 seconds. The 4x400 (Nylo Clarke, Ryan Rippy, Michael Garrison and Hernandez) closed with a win in the 4x400.
Clarke took the baton for the anchor leg and quickly raced around Liberty North’s Tyler Beck on the way to the win. Park Hill’s quartet of Michael Baker, Bell, Abenezer Abraham and Foutch gave the Trojans a third relay to qualify for sectionals, taking the fourth and final spot in a seven-team field.
Clarke put together Park Hill South’s best day.
A junior, Clarke continued his breakout season in the 100, finishing in 10.79 and in second place behind Liberty North’s Jon Redmond. Clarke bypassed the 200 for districts while also trying to balance his training with soccer obligations.
The 100 has been his surprise event this season after being more of a middle distance specialist as a sophomore.
“I kind of surprised myself during the practice time trials for the 100, and I just decided to stick with it,” said Clarke, who went on to win the district 400 title for a second straight year in 51.07 — edging teammate Rippy for the top spot. “I’ve always wanted to be a 100 runner.”
In the 800, Prososki grabbed the No. 4 spot, just able to edge Park Hill South teammate Alex Lee in the final stretch.
Park Hill South’s girls also finished fourth in the team standings with a strong showing in long distance races leading the way.
Marti Heit and Lexi Maddox went 2-3 in the 3,200, while Jasmine Crawford wound up fourth in the 800 to advance. The 4x800 team of Crawford, Heit, Maddox and Emma Roth grabbed third for the Panthers to lead a pair of qualifying relays.
The 4x400 team of Crawford, Roth, Emily Day and Maryn Burns also came in third.
Park Hill South’s lone title came from freshman Jasmine Case in the high jump (5-4), winning in a tiebreaker over North Kansas City’s Laylah Baldwin. She bettered her previous season best by 3 inches. Field event qualifiers for the Panthers included Vanessa Crawford (pole vault, third), Alexandra Renau (long jump, third) and Burns (long jump, fourth).
Case also came in third in the 110 hurdles with teammate Dymeria Guillory claiming runner-up honors by about a half second.
Park Hill ended up second in the team standings with 109 points, a half point in front of North Kansas City.
Taiya Shelby, Sephora Koudou and the sprint relays keyed the Trojans’ efforts. A sophomore, Shelby raced to third (58.44) in a strong 400 field, but the slightly disappointing outcome did little to slow her day. She came back to win the 200 in 25.66 — knocking more than a half second off of her previous season best of 26.23.
Park Hill teammate Sephora Koudou came in third in the 200, the same spot she took in the 100.
“I thought my legs were going to give out, so I just tried to hang in there (in the 200),” said Shelby, who just missed a state bid as a freshman in the 400. “After the 400, I was really tired; I was down and ready to get this over with. Coaches told me to keep my head up and stay positive. That’s what I tried to do.”
The 4x100 and 4x200 relays for Park Hill both turned in solid efforts with help from Shelby.
Shelby, Koudou, Jena Hahlbeck and Amanda Alexander won the 4x200, while the 4x100 of Shelby, Koudou, Alexander and Gigi Hopkins came in second. Both teams took more than a second off previous season bests.
The 4x100 set a school record at 49.79, bettering last year’s mark, while finishing second to Liberty.
Park Hill’s final two qualifiers for sectionals came in the throwing events. Morgen Smith, a junior, took second in the shot put (35-5), while Lois Granet came in third in the discus (104-5).