WESTON, Mo. — West Platte honored the legacy of the late coach Nate Danneman in many ways Saturday afternoon, April 21.
None bigger than taking home first place in both the boys and girls standings during the inaugural Nate Danneman Relays.
The Bluejays coaching staff and athletes wanted to win the home titles that were renamed this year after Danneman, who died on April 19, 2017 in a car crash on Interstate 29. The emotional week carried over into Saturday’s event, which featured 18 teams on overcast and sometimes rainy event but the weather finally cleared up. By the end of the afternoon, the girls had scored 141 points – winning by 50 points ahead of Christ Prep Academy from Lenexa, Kan. North Platte took fifth with 50 points.
The boys took second in the 4x400-meter relay and that was enough to hold off North Platte, winning with 102 points, a five-point cushion.
“Any time you win a track meet it is fun for the kids, but this meet was special for our kids, coaching staff and community,” West Platte girls coach Bailee Giger said. “On Friday, before practice, we watched a message that Tabitha Danneman had sent the kids. I think from then on the mood was set. They were determined to go out and do their best. She reminded the kids to always be kind and to live life to the fullest. The next day they supported their teammates better than I’ve seen all year and ran, threw and jumped their hearts out. I’m excited to see how this propels us into postseason meets.”
Added West Platte boys coach Steve Feiden, “It was one meet where we wanted to run our best lineup and give the athletes a chance to go out and compete and win the Nate Danneman inaugural meet. It was pretty emotional announcing the standings after the 4x400. We knew going in the girls were ahead by a lot but the boys only had three or four point lead on North Platte going into the two mile and 4x400. We finished those strong and getting word they also claimed the first-place plaque. It was pretty special.”
As fans entered the track, the meet was free with the suggestion of a donation to the Nate Danneman Memorial Fund, which would go to his wife and children. T-shirts were sold with the likeness of Danneman, the same image was used on the medals given out by the school.
Athletic director Brad Basel worked with Ranger Trophies out of Riverside on the medals, submitting four different designs before picking the one that stood out the most.
“The whole point was to honor Nate and wanted to give something to his family,” Basel said of the donations. “We are pretty proud of how it went over with the medals and t-shirts going out. It was good.”
The meet was bumped up with 18 teams there, more than double the usual amount for a West Platte meet. The event was ran in the same format the district meets will be ran in a few weeks and each school were allowed to enter three athletes per event.
“We bumped it up quite a bit and made it on a Saturday and made it a really big one,” Basel said.
West Platte had five champions on the girls side, two of them relays.
The 4x800- and 4x100-meter relays took first. The 4x800 featured Rachel Heili, Sophia Rush, Sikoya Richard and Lindsay Goodwin. The 4x100 was MiKenna Peters, Gracie Raney, Gretchen Raney and Ciara Davies.
Lexie Smither won the high jump title, while Peters won the 100-meter hurdles, beating teammate Emily Norman, who was fourth after prelims. Peters added a third-place finish in the 300 hurdles.
Rush won the 3,200-meter for West Platte, with teammate Lexi Elmore taking third place. Rush was the runner-up in the 1,600.
Lea Moose was third in the javelin, while the 4x400 relay team of Moose, Heili, Goodwin and Davies also took third.
The only top three finish for North Platte was Madi O’Neill-Herron placing third in the 200-meter dash, moving up a spot after prelims.
Corbin Green won a pair of races, while North Platte had two relays and one other event medal.
Green was the fastest after prelims in the 100 dash and ran 11.71 to win in the finals. In the 200, he was second after prelims but picked up the win.
The Panthers won the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays.
North Platte’s Tyler Meadows won the boys pole vault with a jump of 10 feet, while West Platte’s Cole Vandel and North Platte’s Joseph DeMarcus tied for second at 9-6.
Vandel added a runner-up finish in the 300 hurdles.
West Platte was second in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
Max Davies was the runner-up in the 1,600 and took third in the 3,200. Cole Whalen added a third-place finish for the Bluejays in the javelin.
“It was a pretty emotional week leading up to it,” Feiden said of the meet. “We talked to the kids and they were excited to run and they heard there would be special medals for the race and they were excited to go out and compete and earn some of those. The electricity around the stadium and the it was just a special feeling. It was different than any other meet we have ran so far this season.
“I have no doubt in my mind we had help with the weather and he was looking down on us.”
Legendary Blue Eagle Relays
West Platte had seven champions on the girls side at a meet on Monday, April 16, at Bryan Field at Kansas City Northeast High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Mikenna Peters was the lone non-relay team winning event for West Platte. The freshman won the 100-meter hurdles by two-tenths of a second — 16.92 — to beat teammate Emily Norman.
Peters added a runner-up finish in the 300 hurdles, falling to Lincoln Prep’s Nele Neal by one-tenths of a second – 48.70 to 48.71.
The Bluejays won the 4x400, 4x800, 4x200 sprint medley, 4x400 sprint medley, distance medley and 4x100 throwers relay.
Amanda Lowell, Zoe Buckler, Katherine Bader and Lea Moose won the 4x100 throwers relay in 1:01.90. Lindsay Goodwin, Sikoya Richard, Rachel Heili and Moose won the 4x400 relay by more than six seconds.
Lexi Elmore, Sophia Rush, Isabella Clark and Richard won the 4x800 by 14 seconds.
Peters, Gretchen Raney, Gracie Raney and Ciara Davies won the 4x200 sprint medley for West Platte. Norman, Gretchen Raney, Heili and Goodwin won the 4x400 sprint medley in a blowout by nearly 30 seconds.
Elmore, Moose, Heili and Rush won the distance medley relay. Lexie Smith (long jump) and Faith Stevens (triple jump) added third-place finishes for West Platte.
The Bluejays had two first-place finishes on the boy side, both in distance events.
Max Davies, Andrew Cicha, Justin Howard and Zach Howerton completed the 4x800-meter relay in 8:54.33 to take first, winning by six seconds. In the distance medley relays, Davies, Cicha, Howard and Julian Trelow ran 12:13.78 and easily took first in the four-team field, winning by 54 seconds.
The 4x400 team of Gavin Rainey, Drake Stelljes, Davies and Dylan Lock ran 3:44.53, coming in behind Central Academy of Excellence to take second.
In other relay events, West Platte was third in the 4x100 relay, 4x100 throwers relay, 4x200 relay and 4x200 sprint medley relay.
Preston Bishop, Lock, Stelljes and Rainey were on the 4x100 team, while Trelow, Thomas Tharp, Zach Scroggins and Mason Taylor comprised the 4x100 throwers relay.
Lock, Stelljes, Rainey and Cole Vandel was the West Platte 4x200 runners. Sam Davis, Brandon James, Preston Bishop and Matiks Heskin ran on the 4x200 sprint medley relay.
Vandel had runner-up finishes in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles for West Platte.