Down to a final attempt, Jacob Laures finally found the combination he’s been looking for in the pole vault for the past two seasons.
Platte County’s senior standout not only cleared 15 feet on his third try Friday, April 26 at Pirate Stadium but did so with relative ease. He had already won the event at the Platte County Invitational with a vault of 14-3 but immediately moved up to take a shot at the school record.
The successful attempt bettered the previous mark of 14-10 that Bryce Bearden — Laures’ former teammate — set in 2017. Despite missing on three tries at 15-3, Laures enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate the historic moment on his home track and the cluster full of family friends watching from that corner of the track.
“This meant everything,” Laures said. “They’re the ones that push me through all this. I know I have my coaches and my teammates, but my family is the one that drives me and pushes me every day. To have them right there, right then, it felt really good.”
A two-time Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships medalist, Laures spent his sophomore season looking up to Bearden, who also originally set his school record of 13-7 at home (breaking Mike Wade’s 2002 mark of 13-6) before upping that to 14-10. Laures then dealt with injuries during an incomplete junior season that still ended with a top-eight showing at state.
Platte County hosted the Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships on Wednesday, May 1, meaning Laures would’ve had one more shot to set the record at home, but he’s eyed the mark for this specific opportunity.
“It’s senior night; it’s the time to do it,” Laures said. “I know Bryce broke the school record when he was here, and it was something that when he did it, I looked up to him for that. I was like, ‘You know what? I want to do that, too.’ Last official meet of the year, so I thought it’d be the best time to do it.”
Laures credited Bearden’s example with helping him to develop into his current form, and he planned to contact the Wichita State pole vaulter with the news following the record showing. Laures still believes he can go higher and will have the opportunity to up his mark while chasing a state title.
“I never planned on being able to think about going for a school record,” said Laures, who has his sights set on clearing 16-0 this year. “Having Bryce and a teammate to push you and having someone to look up to, we worked with each other. That really helped.”
Laures’ record-setting win in the pole vault helped Platte County to a fourth-place team showing (98½ points). The Pirates were just seven points back of conference rival Kearney.
Platte County senior Xavier Keith added an individual win in the shot put (55-7½), while junior Will Hay topped the field in the 300-meter hurdles (41.65) seconds to go with a second-place in the 110 hurdles (15.97).
Hay led the field down the backstretch of the 300s to hold off Warrensburg junior Joseph Stewart (winner of the 110s) and Platte County freshman Chandler Steinmeier, who finished third in a personal-best 42.28. Hay enjoyed a breakout sophomore season that finished with a trip to state and nearly an all-state finish, and he’s now serving as the mentor to Steinmeier — a process of development through competition that’s become a staple of the Pirates’ program.
“(Chandler’s) really turned it on. Something clicked in his mind, and he’s really fast,” Hay said. “Even in practice, (coach Jamar) Parrish will have us run against someone to push ourselves to a point where we didn’t even know we could get to.”
Platte County’s boys team now has three school record-holders leading the way toward the postseason.
Keith set the shot put mark at 56-0 earlier this season, breaking a decades-old mark in his return to the team. He was a state medalist as a sophomore before being away from the team last season.
Additionally, Platte County senior Keegan Cordova holds the 800 mark but did not participate in that event at Friday’s home meet. Instead, he set a personal-best time of 4:32.59 to place fourth in the 1,600.
Platte County sophomore Colby Rollins was fourth in both the long jump (19-5 ¾) and triple jump (personal-best 41-1). Overall, the Pirates have started to turn in some encouraging performances with the postseason looming and a chance for a different crop of competitors to lead the push to state.
“We definitely had a lot of people in mind that had to step it up this year,” Hay said. “I feel like we’re really getting to that point, and there’s no doubt we’re all still improving — including some people you didn’t know were going to step up and they’re leaving their mark, too.”
On the girls side, Platte County finished fifth out of 12 teams with 73 points. The Pirates were 17½ back of fourth-place Smithville.
The only individual championship for Platte County came from sophomore Haley Luna in the 400. A state qualifier in the event as a freshman, she enjoyed a record day, finishing in a personal best 1:00.90 — a pace she credited to starting her final sprint earlier in the one-lap race than normal.
Luna’s effort gave her the fastest time for a Platte County runner in the event since school-record holder Cheyenne Verdoorn. Not bad for an athlete who didn’t go out for track as a freshman until her mother stepped in and made the decision
“I feel way more confident (as a sophomore),” Luna said. “I’ve definitely peaked sooner than last year, which is good. Today, I felt really good. I didn’t feel tired running it and just felt strong.
“It’s unbelievable to me. I never thought I find myself here because I actually wasn’t planning on doing track last year until my mom made me.”
Platte County junior Isabelle Geddes — the school-record holder in both hurdle events — finished second in the 300 hurdles 46.61 and fourth in the 100 hurdles (16.06). Taylor Giger, a sophomore, set a personal-best 5:33.76 in the 1,600 to place fourth.
The other top-four finishes for individuals came from sophomore Abbie Schwieder (second, 9-9) and junior Jaycie Call (third, 9-3) in the pole vault.
Platte County’s 4x400 relay also finished first despite being without its top two runners. The Pirates finished in 3:49.42 to easily top second-place Winnetonka by more than 10 seconds.
Luna and Schwieder were both off that quartet to run in a special exhibition event — a mixed 4x400 with two boys and two girls. They teamed with Hay and Walker Grimes to win without a challenge.
“It was really fun. I love doing co-ed relays,” Luna said.
Hay took the baton for the anchor leg with no competitor providing an immediate challenge. He held the advantage for Platte County in an interesting — and enjoyable — conclusion to his meet.
“I might not have run fast, but it’s great taking the baton in the lead — especially with that gap that they made,” Hay said. “I’m usually not running last so it was different. I enjoyed it.”