BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — A heavily taped right ankle still seemed to bother Chris Dupree, but Park Hill South’s freshman phenom feels a little bit closer to full strength.
Out late in the regular season due to the injury, Dupree continued his return with a strong showing in the 400-meter run Saturday, May 20 at Blue Springs South High School. He set a personal best at 48.82 seconds and finished second to Lee’ Summit North’s Todd Pinkowski (48.69).
Dupree posted the fourth-best time this season in Class 5 and now sits just 0.82 of a second off senior teammate Nylo Clarke’s school record set in last year’s Missouri State Track and Field Championships.
“I lost some conditioning when I was hurt, but it’s coming back. By state, I’ll be ready,” said Dupree, who led in the middle portion of the race but faded a little down the final stretch.
Due to his own injury, Clarke (knee) didn’t enter the 400 in this postseason and missed the state cut in his only individual event. He finished fifth in the 200 at 23.33 running in lane eight and coming in just .02 of a second behind Liberty’s Robert Rawie for the final qualifying spot.
However, Dupree and Clarke’s increased participation helped a trio of relays advance to state.
Dupree joined the 4x200 team with Clarke, MJ Walker and Michael Garrison, and the quartet set a school record at 1:28.25 — good enough for second behind Lee’s Summit North. The 4x400 of Dupree, Clarke, Walker and Connor McCauley finished third in a season-best 3:23.09.
Park Hill South’s 4x100 of Clarke, Walker, Garrison and Dillon Thomas just missed a school record (42.75) and sneaked into the state field with a fourth-place finish.
All four of Park Hill South’s relays qualified for state, helping the Panthers finish third in the final team standings after winning the District 8 title a week earlier.
Brendan Briody, Christian Ludtke, Eli Guzman and Jake Prososki were about 5 seconds better than the previous season-best to finish second in the 4x800 at 8:04.36. Park Hill South came in behind Rockhurst’s Sectional 4 record time of 7:59.06.
The lead leg of the longest relay, Briody also set a personal-best in the 800 at 1:59.94 to place third.
Park Hill ended up fifth overall with 55 points behind standout showings from seniors Papay Glaywulu and Grant Downes. The Trojans’ 4x100 relay was the only one to advance on to state.
Glaywulu didn’t win the triple jump, posting a top effort of 48 feet, 6¼ inches. He qualified for sectionals in only one individual event after missing the cut in the long jump.
An eighth-place medalist in the triple jump as a freshman, Glaywulu looked more relaxed this postseason after recent disappointments. He entered state as a top contender in his best event each of the past two years but didn’t advance to finals.
Glaywulu also missed the finals in long jump a year ago at state, but he brushed off his runner-up triple jump finish at sectionals.
“I’m way more relaxed. Last year, I felt there was a lot more pressure,” said Glaywulu, headed to Oklahoma University in the offseason. “I don’t let it get to me anymore. Before? Yeah, but there’s a lot more important things than track sometimes.
“I’m just going to go out there and give everything I’ve got, and if everything’s right, I should get first place. But if I don’t, it’s something to learn from. This is more motivation — more fuel.”
Glaywulu, Downes, DJ Johnson and Payton Stanfield nearly broke a two-decade-old Park Hill record in the 4x100, but the official time left them just short. The Trojans posted a season-best 42.51 but were second in the shortest sprint relay to Lee’s Summit North.
For perennial qualifiers Downes and Glaywulu, this will be their first chance to run on a state relay.
“There’s a first time for everything, and I’m glad coach put me in the 4x1 to help the team,” Glaywulu said.
Downes also grabbed a trio of third-place finishes on another busy day.
Starting early again, the senior decathlete headed to Wichita State cleared 12-6 in the pole vault for a second week in a row to earn his first trip to state in the event. He didn’t vault at all this season until entering District 8 and posting a runner-up finish there.
Downes also booked his third straight trip in the 110 hurdles while also placing third in the 300 hurdles to earn his first berth in that event. He didn’t approach his season-best in either race, hitting multiple hurdles during a slightly off day.
In the 110s, Downes finished just ahead of Park Hill South senior Seth Hudson, who grabbed fourth to earn a return to state for the first time since going in the 300s as a sophomore.
Hudson came in just .02 of a second in front of Park Hill freshman Javon Gathrite for the final state spot.
While Downes will be at state for a third straight year, he’s still seeking his first medal, having missed the final of the 110 hurdles each of the past two years. He was 17th out of 17 in Class 5 for the javelin as a junior.
Park Hill sophomore Kolby Heinerikson booked a second straight state trip in the javelin.
Officially contested in the first two rounds of the postseason this year, he neared his school record with a throw of 159-11 and finished solidly in third. Last season, Heinerikson earned a state medal in the exhibition event, qualifying through his best regular season throw.
Park Hill South senior Tavin Severino ended his career in the field events, nearly earning a state berth in the long jump. He came in about 4 inches shy of fourth place, while coming in seventh in the high jump.