BELTON, Mo. — Xavier Keith again used the Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships to announce his arrival.
Platte County’s hulking sophomore fired off a season-best effort of 51 feet, 5½ inches in the shot put Friday, May 5 at Southwick Stadium. Entering as the event’s defending champion, Keith wound up second to Grandview junior Christian Turner (52-10) but finally came up with a breakthrough distance in an up-and-down season.
“It feels really good, and I hope I keep going farther and farther,” said Keith, who came out of nowhere to win last year’s title. “My coaches always want me to PR at conference, and I think that’s the best time to PR.”
Platte County ended up dealing with a bunch of runner-up showings and wound up second in both sets of team standings to Kearney. However, the Pirates came away with plenty of highlights, including a record-setting 4x400-meter elay, a near-miss in the 800 and important intrasquad battles in the 3,200 and pole vault.
Last season, Keith used his unlikely Blue Division title as a springboard into the postseason, going all the way to the Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships. He topped 50 feet for just the second time this season and broke his personal best from Class 4 Sectional 4 competition in 2016.
Keith enters the postseason — starting with Class 4 District 8 competition Saturday, May 13 at Park Hill District Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. — a more refined thrower but still learning.
“When it comes off my hand right, I can feel it — when I think it’s going to be a big one,” Keith said. “If I push harder and go all out, I’ll have a chance (to hit another big one).”
Platte County sophomore Keegan Cordova also produced a career-best in the 800.
Waiting with teammates to hear the official results, Cordova broke the 2-minute mark for the first time in his career and came in second to Kearney senior Clayton Adams. Cordova’s announced time of 1 minute, 59.56 seconds ended up just .20 of a second off the Pirates’ school record.
Platte County junior John Watts (50.92 in the 400) and senior Mac Leet (43-0¼ in the triple jump) also set personal bests to finish second. Leet did go a season-best 6-3 in the high jump to win over Watts, one of two notable 1-2 finishes for the Pirates in field events.
Bryce Bearden, a senior, claimed the Blue Division pole vault title at 13-9 — a foot off his school record set 10 days earlier at Platte County’s home invitational. He ended up winning in a tiebreaker over sophomore teammate Jacob Laures, who set a new personal best at 13-9.
Laures entered the season with a top height of just 9-6 but has consistently lingered just behind Bearden’s record-setting exploits. While Bearden has set a school record four times this season, Laures’ vault of 13-9 broke the pre-2017 school record of 13-6 Mike Wade set in 2002.
“Every time he goes higher, he pushes me and helps me,” Laures said. “We’re battling each other, but we’re pushing each other to get as high as we can get.”
Platte County also received a third-place field showing from senior Cade Goettling, who came in just off his personal best in the javelin. His throw of 142-8 scored key team points in the chase for second with Raytown South, while school-record holder Dakota Schmidt, a junior, struggled while dealing with a lingering elbow injury.
Okwar Jale, a senior, placed third in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, setting a personal best in the shorter event at 15.66 despite clipping the second hurdle.
Platte County’s other top-three finish came from sophomore Jackson Letcher. While Kearney took the top two spots in the 3,200, Letcher ended up winning a mad dash to the finish line between three teammates looking for third.
Letcher came in at 10:17.14, while juniors Evan Edwards (10:17.30) and Nick Bjustrom (10:17.34) were right behind in fourth and fifth with the finish playing a role in which two runners would compete in the event at districts.
Platte County’s 4x200 of TJ Guillory, Ahmad Holt, Matthew Phillips and Watts put up a season-best of 1:30.86 to give the Pirates their lone relay win, while Guillory, Phillips, Leet and Kevin Burns were part of a shuffled 4x400 that came in second after DeAndre Rollins left the meet early due to illness. The 4x800 of Cordova, Jared Maksudian, Jonathan Anguiano and JD Crawford also finished second.
While the boys 4x400 closed the meet with slight disappointment, Platte County’s other 4x400 turned in a historic performance.
Isabelle Geddes, a freshman, opened the final relay with a strong leg, and sophomore Jessica Clark and senior Keyondra Butler kept up the pace. Pirates senior all-state standout Rebekah Geddes closed with a 60-second split with the quartet producing a school record time of 4:06.20 — shredding about 3 seconds off the previous best.
“It was super fun, just the energy and everything,” said Isabelle Geddes, who had expressed disappointment with her winning 300 hurdles time after coming in second in the 100 hurdles. “It was really exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. I knew (Rebekah) would have a kick, and she pushed us through.”
Rebekah Geddes continued to display her adaptability in her new set of events.
Not running in the 3,200 anymore after being all-state a year ago, the elder sister came up with wins in the 1,600 (season-best 5:11.23) while nearly setting a school record in the 800 (2:19.42). She continues to chase Elizabeth Robbins’ 2000 mark set while winning a state title in the half mile.
Lexi Elmore, a freshman, wrapped up a strong showing for Platte County in the long-distance events, setting a career-best while finishing first in 12:16.07.
Platte County also endured a few tough runner-up finishes while coming in second as a team to Kearney. Liz Peterson (shot put, 36-9¼), Amy Lett (discus, 100-10) and Jaycie Stubbs (javelin, 110-7) swept the second-place spots in the throwing events.
Tori Farr, a senior, came in second in both the high jump (4-11) and long jump (16-4) for Platte County, while junior Grace Lewis set a personal-best of 8-9 in the pole vault and finished second after tiebreakers in a three-way deadlock for the top height.