KEARNEY, Mo. — Park Hill South entered the season with glaring holes on usually strong relay teams.
Early on, junior Ryan Rippy bolstered the efforts to find cohesion and balance. A transfer from Tulsa, Okla., Rippy has provided an instant impact, and he put his speed on display Friday, April 8 at Kearney High School, helping Park Hill South pick up wins in each of the three events he entered at the Kearney Classic.
“I was really happy with that,” said Rippy, who finished with a win in the 400-meter dash as well as running legs on the Panthers’ 4x200 and 4x400 relays. “This meet, I didn’t think we would do as well as we did. We’re really strong as a team, and I think we’re working pretty hard. The times are encouraging. This early in the season, I think it’s pretty great.”
Fellow junior Nylo Clarke also ran three events and also took home three golds as part of the winning relays and as the winner of the 200. He bested the field by a full second in his individual event despite having trouble seeing down the home stretch with a stiff head wind blurring his eyes.
A 400 specialist last year, Clarke finished in 22.35 seconds, a second in front of Ruskin’s Deshon Outley.
“When there’s a lot of wind coming into my eyes, they always start watering,” Clarke said. “It makes it hard for me to see. You don’t notice it really, but getting faster is something I’ve been working on so it feels pretty good.”
Clarke and senior Tanner Alderson are the lone returners for Park Hill South’s Class 5 all-state 4x400 relay from a year ago after the graduation of stars Darrien Case and Mitch Henderson. Rippy will be a key factor for the Panthers, who had two relays make the state finals last year.
Case and Henderson both medaled at state in the 800 and were also on the 4x800 team which qualified.
“I’m a big relay guy,” Park Hill South coach Clay Lenhert said. “We coach the individuals and try and get them as far as we can, but to me, it’s more fun to get four people and take more people to state. It’s more fun to watch the relay when you see people gelling. You really have to use your teammates and team-menship rather than relying on someone who is really good.
“We preach that we’re a team and relays is where that really shows up.”
The four wins helped power Park Hill South to a third place team finish with 75 points — 11 behind team champion Rock Bridge. Platte County finished eighth in the final standings with 34½ points, 14 behind Kirksville, which finished fifth.
Pirates sophomore John Watts finished third in the high jump (6-2) to claim the top finish for Platte County.
On the girls side Park Hill South also finished third with 76½ points, 55 behind Rock Bridge. Platte County’s girls also finished eighth out of 20 teams with 32 points.
Park Hill South freshman Jasmine Case earned the Panthers’ their top finish, coming in second in the high jump. She cleared 4-10 to lead a quartet of finishers to clear that height.
Platte County junior Tori Farr and sophomore Tianna Daniel-Dalt also cleared the height but wound up fourth and fifth, respectively, due to prior misses. Farr cleared 4-10 for the first time this season and now sets her sights on clearing 5-0.
“I’m very happy with my high jump,” Farr said. “It means a lot. I am so close to where I want to be, (getting to 5-feet). There’s a lot of motivation to get there. I have to keep pushing. I was super excited when I ended up getting there.”
Platte County’s top finish came in the 3,200 thanks to standout sophomore Rebekkah Geddes, who finished second (11:37.70). She came in 10 seconds behind Mariah Lister, a freshman from Grain valley who coasted to the win.
Park Hill South junior Lexi Maddox wound up third. (11:44.58).
Jerry Crews Invitational
Park Hill dominated the jumping events and nearly took a home a team title Friday, April 8.
In the Trojans’ first full-team meet of the season, they put up 94 points and were second only to Liberty North at North Kansas City District Activities Complex at Staley High School in Kansas City, Mo. Chris Nilsen won the high jump at 6-7 with senior teammate Alijah Gee second at 6-4, while junior Papay Glaywulu swept the long jump (22-1) and triple jump (45-3).
In addition, Hunter Lund made his track debut with Park Hill and won the 3,200, edging Liberty’s Max Martin by just more than a second. Lund is a junior transfer from Virginia who led the Trojans’ cross country program in the fall.
Kolby Heinerikson rounded out Park Hill’s top-three showings in the 12-team field, placing third in the javelin.
Park Hill’s girls were third in the team standings behind sophomore Taiya Shelby’s breakout day. The Trojans sophomore won the 400 in a dazzling 58.58, while also placing second in the 200 at 26.23. Shelby also ran a leg on the second-place 4x100 relay team which also included Amanda Alexander, GiGi Hopkins and Sephora Koudou.
Lois Granet added a second-place finish in the discus at 106-6, while Ariet King was third in the 300 hurdles. at 51.33.