EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — David Fulk took the baton at basically the same moment as Kearney’s anchor leg. Platte County’s senior didn’t have many worries about the final lap of the 4x400-meter relay to close the Class 4 District 8 meet Saturday, May 14 at Excelsior Springs High School.
“It’s whatever,” Fulk said. “I’m just going to give it all. If he can beat me, let him do it ... but he’s not going to.”
About 45 minutes before the race, Fulk wasn’t in the lineup for the 4x400 — much less slated to run the anchor leg.
Platte County junior TJ Guillory went down with a leg injury during the 200, forcing Pirates coach Gabe Middleton to use his depth. Five runners have rotated through the 4x400 lineup late in the season, and Fulk has posted the best split of the group.
However, a slight twinge of an abdominal injury put him out of the top four for districts, until Guillory’s injury.
Lloyd Lockett led off for Platte County, and Tyler Clemens handed off to John Watts for the third leg with the Pirates in second. Watts made up the ground and gave Fulk a chance to provide the winning lap. He delivered with Platte County finishing in 3 minutes, 28.43 seconds to hold off Kearney for the win.
The time didn’t approach the Pirates’ season best of 3:25.39, nor the school record the current group covets, but again showed off their potential.
“I love these guys,” Fulk said. “I don’t care what position I’m in. I’m going to do whatever I can to help them out, hopefully take a ‘W’ at the end of the day.”
Fulk finished a busy day with his late substitution. He opened by running a leg of the 4x800 with Keegan Cordova, JD Crawford and Hunter Long, helping Platte County finish in a comfortable second and advance on to Sectional 4 competition.
In the 800, Fulk bided his time before moving up to third on the second lap to finish third. His day appeared over until Guillory came up lame in the 200.
Guillory missed a top-four finish in the 100 by .01 of a second but was winning the 200 until his leg gave out and he collapsed in the middle of the turn. He did qualify for sectionals as part of the 4x200 team with Lockett, Clemens and Jacob Mundell (third in 1:31.89, less than a second behind second-place Center).
Clemens also set a personal record in the 400 at 51.80 to advance to sectionals with a third-place showing.
Okwar Jale and Kevin Neal — both juniors — both placed top four in both hurdle events to score big team points for Platte County, which finished second behind Kearney in the final team standings. Jale won the 300 hurdles in 42.05 while placing second in the 110s at 16.12.
Neal ended up third in both, going 16.56 in the 110s and 43.67 in the 300s.
Platte County also did well in the long-distance events, starting with JD Crawford’s PR in the 1,600 at 4:47.73 — good enough for second behind Kearney standout Clayton Adams, who won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Jackson Letcher, a freshman, placed third in the 3,200 with sophomore teammate Evan Edwards claiming the final sectional spot in fourth.
Xavier Keith’s PR effort in the shot put highlighted Platte County’s field showings.
A freshman still picking up form, Keith went past 50 feet for the first time and won the event at 50-2½ with senior teammate Christian Encarnacion also setting a personal best at 47-4¾ to take second. Dane Rader, the Pirates’ third thrower and a senior, didn’t even get to compete due to the two entries per team rule at districts but could have easily posted a top four finish as well.
Keith jumped into the mix with a victory in the Suburban Conference Blue Division Meet and continues to show off his impressive potential. Encarnacion is also a first-year competitor, part of a talented group that slowly improved during the season.
“I’m really excited to move on,” Keith said. “Dane’s a good thrower, and I’ve learned from him. It’s sad when you have one of the best throwers in the school not move on, but for Christian and I, it’s a really good thing.
“We all learned together.”
Platte County’s other field event qualifiers were Bryce Bearden (second) and Payton Sheehan (third) in the pole vault. Watts also placed third in the long jump (21-0) after scratching his first two preliminary jumps before posting a 19-10 in his third try to reach the finals.
Mac Leet managed third in the high jump at just 5-8 in a field that struggled across the board.
Another newcomer impressed for Platte County’s girls in the high jump, also helping the Pirates to a second place team finish behind Kearney. The Pirates qualified 14 — 11 individuals and three relays — for sectionals with three championships.
Tianna Daniel-Dalton earned the first with another consistent effort in the high jump.
A sophomore with zero track and field experience to start the season, Daniel-Dalton again cleared 5-4 to easily win the event with no other jumper able to clear 5-2. Platte County’s Tori Farr also advanced to sectionals, finishing fourth at 4-10.
Daniel-Dalton spent last year at Park Hill after transferring to Missouri from Georgia but didn’t envision track as her sport.
“I’m a cheerleader. That’s what I do,” Daniel-Dalton said. “My favorite thing about track now is high jump. It’s way better than it was.”
Daniel-Dalton went 4-10 in her first competition this season and continues to routinely be above 5-0. She continues to eye the school record Shelley Laures set last year at 5-6, and the height doesn’t seem that far off with Daniel-Dalton’s rapid development.
“I always feel pressure,” Daniel-Dalton said, “but the best thing for me to do is just act like none of this is happening. That’s what I do.
“Once I go over the bar, whether I clear or not, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Farr just missed a sectional berth in the long jump, finishing fifth, and Grace Lewis, a sophomore ended up the only other field event to qualify. She set a personal best at 8-0 to finish second behind Winnetonka’s Allyson Todd.
Rebekah Geddes, Platte County’s standout sophomore in the long distance, provided the other two wins. She surged into first place in the 1,600 at the end of the first lap and cruised to a personal-best 5:14.91 — about 3 seconds off the school record.
Already the school record holder in the 3,200, Geddes ran much of the longer race by herself and won 11:28.85 with sophomore teammate Jessica Clark in second at 12:04.66.
Hilary Mathurin advanced in four events for Platte County despite some personal frustration with her times. Mathurin came in third in the 100 and 200 to go with a second-place effort in the 300 hurdles (49.94).
After coming in behind sophomore rival Emma Couch of Kearney, Mathurin received words of encouragement from Middleton, who reminded her that no state titles could be won at districts.
Mathurin also ran on the third place 4x200 team with Rachel Gilbert, Ava White and Farr.
Platte County’s 4x800 team of Clark, Ava White, Rachel Gilbert and Sara Wyss came in second behind Winnetonka, while the 4x400 also advanced after only four teams ended up starting the race. The Pirates’ group of White, Gilbert, Sage McGehe and Carlie Hensley wound up fourth at 4:20.91.
Hensley advanced in the 110s with a fourth place finish but ended up fifth in the 300 hurdles in a controversial race. A hurdle and runner appeared to momentarily block her path during the run, but officials did not see the obstruction and allowed the race result to stand.
White survived in the 400 despite coming in fourth in her heat at 1:03.75 after entering as the No. 2 seed. Jacara Latham of Center, the top-ranked runner, false started and was disqualified.