Going into the 2019 Big 8 Conference Track and Field Championships, McDonald County boys' coach Henri Whitehead knew the Mustangs had a chance to win the boys' team title.
But what came as a surprise to Whitehead was McDonald County easily winning what is believed the first boys' conference championship in track in school history.
"It was very surreal because, honestly, we have never won anything like this as a team in boys' track as far as we know," Whitehead said. "When we got in the Big 8 Conference, we knew we had a chance, but Lamar stood in our way. They were who we were targeting, and then they added the six teams and it changed the whole dynamic. It actually made it a much harder goal. To do it in the first year that the conference is 14 teams is amazing."
McDonald County finished with 113.5 points to easily out-distance Springfield Catholic in second with 90 points. Nevada was third with 79 followed by Lamar 77, Logan-Rogersville 75.5, Marshfield 67, Reeds Spring 57, Monett 45.5, East Newton 32.5, Cassville 31, Aurora 29, Hollister 20, Mount Vernon 18 and Seneca 6.
McDonald County won three individual events, all by junior standout Corbin Jones. Jones not only won three events and finished fourth in another but was also named the Big 8 Conference Male Track Athlete of the Year and broke the school record in the triple jump twice on consecutive jumps.
In addition to winning the triple jump, Jones won the 100 meters (11.2), the long jump (21-8) and finished fourth in the 200 (22.87).
Jones thought he had broken the triple jump in the Mustangs' final regular season meet of the year when he jumped 43-1.5 to eclipse the mark of 43-1 mark of Mike Burkholder set in 1988. But after verifying the record, it was found that Burkholder had actually jumped 43-3, leaving Jones an inch and a half short.
The mix-up didn't phase Jones a bit; instead, it motivated him to leave no doubt about who holds the record. Jones first got the record on his next to last jump when he jumped 43-6.5 before extending it to 43-10.75 on his final jump.
"At the beginning of the year, I had to remind Corbin he was one of the best athletes in the area," Whitehead said. "Sometimes he doesn't realize that. I am honestly afraid to update the board until the year is over because he is still going to go farther."
Not only did Jones receive a Big 8 award, Whitehead was named the Big 8 Conference Boys Track Coach of the Year. "I was not prepared for that," Whitehead said. "I just inherited a really good group. I had all of these kids in junior high and I knew they were special then."
McDonald County racked up four second places. Zach Woods led a 2-3 finish in the pole vault with a vault of 13-6 while Huechi Xiong cleared 13-0 for third.
Michael Williams was second behind Jones in the long jump with a jump of 21-4, while Elliott Wolfe was second in the discus (134-5) and added a third in shot put (44-5.25).
The Mustangs' final second place came in the 4x800 relay (8:28.01) by Elijah Habert, Jack Teague, Cale Adamson and Garrett Spears.
Spears added a third in the 1600 (4:40.42), a sixth in the 800 (2:05.61) and an eighth in the 4x400 relay (3:42.46), also with Habert, Teague and Adamson.
Adamson added a fourth in the 400 (53.35) and a fifth in the high jump (5-8).
Joel Morris had two surprising third-place finishes in the two hurdle races. He ran a 16.4 in the 110 hurdles and a 42.29 in the 300 hurdles.
Rounding out McDonald County's point-scoring finishes were Brenon White with a sixth in the discus (122-7) and the 4x100 relay of Eh Doh Say, Junior Teriek, Jeobany Marcos and John Howard that finished in eighth in 46.74.
"It was nerve-wracking, but halfway through the meet, I knew we were going to do something special," Whitehead said. "By then every kid had done something special. It was one of those things I knew I had to count on a bunch of kids, not just Corbin. Every one of those kids, even if their job was to score one point, scored one point or three or six or eight. It was just one of those surreal experiences when you go to an event every athlete elevates his game and you look back and think not one person didn't do what they were supposed to and almost all did above it."
The Lady Mustangs' best finishes were second places by Ragan Wilson in the 800 (2:36.70) and Jackie Grider in the discus (103-6).
Wilson added a fifth as a member of the 4x800 relay (11:13.72) along with Adyson Sanny, Addy Mick and Haley Mick.
Kelly Brennand was fourth in the pole vault (8-6) while teammate Chloe Teague was eighth (8-0).
Emily Landers added a sixth in the shot put (31-10.5) while Ruby Palomo was eighth in the 300 hurdles (52.02).
The 4x100 relay team of Liberty Boer, Gissele Reyes, Mary Warner and Madison Brown was eighth in 57.83.
McDonald County begins state qualifying at the Missouri Class 4 District 2 Track and Field Championships on May 11 at Carl Junction High School.
Sports on 05/09/2019
Print Headline: McDonald County Track Wins Boys First School Conference Championship