Luna sets school record in 400 dash

ODESSA, Mo. — Haley Luna never broke from her smooth strides during the 400-meter final of the Class 4 Sectional 4 meet. She almost effortlessly crossed the line at Odessa High School with no visible strain indicative of her record-setting performance.

For the first time in her career, the Platte County sophomore went sub-60 seconds in her best event, but even more impressively, she won the race in a school-record time of 58.28 on Saturday, May 18. She had been flirting with the 1-minute mark for weeks before incredibly dropping nearly 2 full seconds off her previous personal best.

ROSS MARTIN/Special to the Citizen  Platte County sophomore Haley Luna, center, took first place in the 400-meter dash on Saturday, May 18 at the Class 4 Sectional 4 meet in Odessa. She set a new school record with a time of 58.28 seconds.

ROSS MARTIN/Special to the Citizen

Platte County sophomore Haley Luna, center, took first place in the 400-meter dash on Saturday, May 18 at the Class 4 Sectional 4 meet in Odessa. She set a new school record with a time of 58.28 seconds.

“After running that, I didn’t expect to have broken the school record,” said Luna, who finished nearly a full second in front of runner-up Haylee Karp — a junior from Harrisonville — and took down the school record that had stood for nearly three decades. “I made my kick earlier, and I thought I was going to die at the end. But I didn’t, and it felt really good.”

“I had no idea I was going to hit 58 any time soon.”

Despite her relative youth, Luna continued her ascension to the leader of Platte County’s impressive contingent bound for this weekend’s Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships. She qualified in the 400 as a freshman but advanced out of Sectional 4 in three different events — two as an individual.

Luna also placed second in the 200 at 26.61, behind only Warrensburg junior Liberty Brown (26.24). Luna factored in 32 team points for the Pirates at sectionals, helping them accrue 82 total and finishing just behind team champion Warrensburg in the final standings (83½). 

“It’s really exciting and was really fun today,” Luna said. “I just have to run the way I do and don’t change anything, really.”

In addition to Luna, Platte County sophomore Bryn McGehe will also have three events at state in her first year as a participant and qualifier. She set a personal best for the second straight week in the open 800, this time finishing third in 2:26.51 with a time better than any of the other three sectional qualifiers from District 8.

McGehe started the final lap in fifth and then moved up two spots with another gutsy dash into lane two — a similar move that placed her second at District 8 the week prior.

“Awesome. She’s just worked her tail off all year,” Platte County coach Gabe Middleton said. “Bryn is just a phenomenal kid, every day — smiling, working hard and has just been getting better.”

Platte County’s state prospects did take an unexpected hit with an uncharacteristically tough day for junior Isabelle Geddes — a three-time state medalist finishing out her career this season. She graduated early and will continue her academics and athletic career at Division I Weber State.

Geddes came in sixth in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles despite running just hundredths of a second off her season-best times in both events. She finishes her individual career as the school-record holder in both.

Despite the obvious emotions of disappointment, Geddes became the first to congratulate McGehe on her 800 state berth in a conversation that occurred just minutes after coming up one place out of a state qualifying spot in the 300 hurdles just minutes earlier.

“That is exactly Izzy. That’s the kind of family she was raised in,” Middleton said. “As a coach, you hate those moments because you just feel heartbroken for those kids. I know Izzy’s heart was broken when she didn’t qualify in the 300 hurdles, but as I told her, that does not define you. Those girls just ran faster today, and that happens sometimes in sports.”

“I can’t say enough about what she’s done for the program and other girls — great teammate and great competitor.”

Shortly after the 300 hurdles and 800 races, officials called a second delay due to inclement weather on Saturday afternoon, and soon after, the remainder of the meet was pushed to Monday morning and afternoon.

Geddes came back for the 4x400 relay and ran a blistering first lap that set Platte County up for a school-record performance. The group of Geddes and sophomores Abbie Schwieder, McGehe and Luna flirted with the record at districts and blew the previous mark away on Monday with fresh legs.

Luna took the baton nearly level with Grain Valley’s anchor leg before turning in a 58.07-second split that helped Platte County win the race by more than 3 seconds. Their time of 4:01.65 broke the previous school record from 2017 by about 5 seconds.

“That 4x4 today was special,” Middleton said. “That was the second fastest time anyone in Class 4 has this year and definitely the fastest girls relay we have ever seen at Platte County.”

The 4x400 gave Platte County a second qualifying relay after the 4x800 opened Saturday’s track events with a third-place showing in a season-best of 9:54.95. The group of sophomores Taylor Giger, Jenna Jurgensmeyer, Aly Anderson and McGehe knocked more than 30 seconds off their previous best time this season with McGehe running a 2:25 anchor leg to seal the spot.

“That was huge to have that performance and then turn around and go again in the open (800) to qualify for state. And she’s not done,” Middleton said.

In addition to the 4x400 team, Schwieder and Giger came back for individual events in the postponed portion of the meet.

Schwieder earned a second straight trip to state in the pole vault despite unfortunate circumstances, which saw junior Jaycie Call just miss the cut and place fifth while vaulting in rainy conditions on Saturday. Schwieder had placed in the top four and was guaranteed to advance when the meet was postponed mid-event.

Coming back Monday, Schwieder and three other competitors started at 10 feet — just 1 inch off the school record she set earlier this season. She cleared the height but finished second after missing three attempts at 10-3, while Warrensburg junior Gabrielle Hoke went on to clear 11-0 and 11-7 to win.

After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the 1,600 on Saturday, Giger earned her first state berth with a third-place finish in the 3,200 with a career-best 11:46.93. She adds the individual event to her first state relay duties this week.