Owere breaks Park Hill South record

EXCELSIOR SPRINGS — Ben Owere said he was so frustrated he could cry, recalling missing out on an opportunity to break the Park Hill South triple jump record at a practice meet on Tuesday, April 2.

“I started with a 44 or 45, and then after that I was thinking ‘I need to get this record,’” Owere said. “I started pacing and giving myself pep talks to try and get the record, but I scratched the 47.”

That led to his next chance at Park Hill South history, at the Panthers’ first official meet of the season on Friday, April 5.

How motivated was Owere? “A lot more,” he said. His new-found motivation was thanks in large part to the failure earlier in the week. This time around, however, there was no frustration. 

Just the opposite, in fact.

DEREK BRIZEDINE/Kearney Courier-Tribune  Park Hill South’s Alecia Westbrook won the high jump competition with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches during the Kearney Invitational held on Friday, April 5 at Excelsior Springs High School due to construction at Kearney High School.

DEREK BRIZEDINE/Kearney Courier-Tribune

Park Hill South’s Alecia Westbrook won the high jump competition with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches during the Kearney Invitational held on Friday, April 5 at Excelsior Springs High School due to construction at Kearney High School.

Owere, a senior, jumped 46-7¾ to officially break the Park Hill South triple jump record in the Kearney Invitational held at Excelsior Springs High School. He had done it, passing Josh Scott, who went 44-4 in 2008.

“He was really hungry to get that record,” Panthers jumps coach Amanda Roth said. “He knew he could do it so he really went after it. Since he jumped a 44 at state last year he’s had his eye on the school record. He’s been ready to get it.”

Owere collected eight of the Panthers’ 124 total points, which was good for a first-place finish on the boys side. Kearney was second with 112.5 points and Grain Valley placed third (111.5) ahead of Platte County (88) and Warrensburg (82.5).

Grain Valley topped the girls field with 116 points, finishing just ahead of Kearney’s 113. Platte County placed third with 85 points, Warrensburg was fourth (83) and Smithville was fifth (75).

Owere, who finished second to Remerdie Ndian of Kirksville (48-0.25), leapt his way to the school record on his second of four jumps. He began his series with a 45-5 and he went 44-6.5 on the third before fouling on the fourth and final jump.

“He had a lot of spring today,” Roth said. “This year his jump looks pretty fundamentally sound. We need to work on getting his approach more consistent, but when I analyze the video, it looks good.”

So what’s next? Well, for starters, Owere wants to improve the 46-7.75 mark to better position himself for a run at the state meet. Last year he competed in his first state meet, finishing in last in the triple jump.

“My freshman year, I didn’t see myself as the athlete that I am now until I started seeing results,” Owere said. 

And if that continues, Owere said he has his eyes on competing for a state title.

“I feel like I can after this jump,” he said. “I feel it’s definitely possible if I have the right mindset and keep on training.”

Addison Snowball turned in two first-place showings for the Panthers. Snowball threw the discus 159-8 and the shot put 51-3.5 to register event wins. Christian Ludtke won the 800 with a time of 2:00.29.

Including Owere’s triple jump effort, Park Hill South’s boys picked up four runner-up finishes. Ethan Mick ran the 800 in 2:00.24, finishing just behind teammate Ludke, Bret Worley finished the 3200 in 9:48.47 and Connor McCauley clocked in at 50.29 in the 400.

Alecia Westbrook picked up a win in the high jump to lead the Park Hill South girls’ sixth-place finish (71.5). Westbrook cleared 5-2, short of her program record of 5-4 that she set last season. 

South’s girls had one second-place finisher and a third-place finisher. Skyelar Nelson was runner-up in the 3200 with a time of 12:11, while DeQuaria Guillory finished the 200 in 27.84 and Maya Sullivan cleared 9-6 in the pole vault.


After qualifying for state as a freshman, expectations will only continue to climb for Platte County pole vaulter Abbie Schwieder. But the sophomore continues to impress in the early going of the current track and field season.

The Kearney meet is the most recent example. Schwieder cleared 10-0 to tie the Platte County record and finish runner-up in the event.

“I was really excited because we had really nice weather and we had no wind,” Schwieder said. “I’ve been looking forward to this meet all week to try and get the school record, so I was excited.”

Schwieber now shares the title of program record holder with Blaire Sampsell, who set the mark in 2011.

“She’s been flirting with 10 foot for a year now, but again she’s only a sophomore and I think she’ll break her own record,” Platte County coach Gabe Middleton said. “She’ll go over that this year.”

Schwieber agreed.

“I feel like I’ll break it,” she said. “I feel I can improve some more on my form to get a higher height. That’s what I’m going to try to do.” 

Schwieber’s runner-up finish was part of the Pirates’ third-place overall finish on the girls side.

Haley Luna won the 400 and Kate Brown (triple jump) and Isabelle Geddes (300 hurdles) each took runner-up honors. Geddes, who also placed third in the 100, clocked in at 46.90 in the 300 hurdles.

Luna, a sophomore, was victorious with a time of 1:02.87.

“It wasn’t quite her PR but this time of year it was really good,” Middleton said. “She was in third or fourth place in the last 50 meters, then she passed two or three girls to finish really strong. She’s just tough.”

Only a freshman, Brown went 34-1 in the triple jump, which is good for second in the Platte County record books. She now sits behind Chandrika Brewton, who holds the record with a 35-0.75 mark from back in 2009.

“It’s really only the second week she’s done this,” Pirates jumps coach Chris Stubbs said. “I don’t even think she knows what she’s doing at this point. I mean she does, but … She doesn’t even know how to land yet, she’s landing like a gymnast.”

The Pirates had one girls relay team that earned runner-up honors and two that finished in third place. Platte County’s 4x400 girls team of Alyson Anderson, Schwieder, Luna and Bryn McGehee took second with a time of 4:15.35, finishing behind Grain Valley (4:12.64).

The Pirates’ 4x800 and 4x200 squads took third. The 4x800 team of Anderson, Taylor Giger, McGehee and Jenna Jurgensmeyer crossed the line in 10:25.32, while the 4x200 team of Madison Shields, Luna, Emma Seckinger and Geddes finished in 1:50.40.

Will Hay won the 300 hurdles and took third in the 110 hurdles to lead the Platte County boys, who finished in fourth place.

Hay clocked in at 41.26 in the 300 hurdles and 16.51 in the 110 hurdles. 

Jacob Laures was runner-up in the pole vault, clearing 13-6, under his 14-0 seeding. Seger Nelson of Kirksville won the event with a 15-6 mark. 

Blake Reynolds also earned runner-up honors, finishing the 200 with a time of 23.30. Colby Rollins used a 20-1 mark to finish third in the long jump.

Platte County won the 4x400 boys relay race, finishing in 3:27.60. Hay anchored the race that also included Reynolds, Keegan Cordova and Evan McPhatter. The Pirates also placed second in the 4x800 with their team of Cordova, Blake Bjustrom, McPhatter and Matthew Sullivan.

“I’m proud of our young kids, especially the boys relays,” Middleton said. “We have some injuries and some others out for other reasons, and our young kids are stepping in and filling roles. We’re not missing a beat. That’s good to see.”