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South Callaway track and field goes 3-for-3 in all-state finishes

by Robby Campbell | May 20, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
South Callaway senior Lacey Mathews throws her pole after clearing the bar in the girls pole vault Friday during the Class 2 state track and field championships at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City. (News Tribune/Kate Cassady)

JEFFERSON CITY -- South Callaway had quite the showing on Day 1 of the Class 2 track and field state championships, with all three of its athletes competing in event finals making all-state Friday at Adkins Stadium.

The Bulldogs' Nathan Russell had the best placing of South Callaway's all-state finishes, taking fourth in the boys javelin with a personal record distance of 159 feet, 8 inches (previous PR was 152-02¾). East Buchanan's Trey Johnson won the event, going 171-6.

"Coach (Sophia) Rivera, the DI thrower at Mizzou, was our coach this year, my junior year," Russell said. "Helped a lot with my critique and form. I probably wouldn't be able to do this without having an amazing coach like her."

With javelin being the newest MSHSAA track and field event and not an option at the middle school level, Russell shared how he got his start.

"I just saw it one time after baseball kind of them throwing. It kind of piqued my interest because I have a pretty strong arm," Russell said. "But I knew I probably wouldn't do so well in baseball because I was on the JV team. So I kind of shot my shot with javelin in my sophomore year. I did pretty well. I got techniques from the other thrower, Brendon Mealy, who is now our assistant javelin coach."

Lacey Mathews tallied South Callaway's second-best all-state finish, placing fifth in the girls pole vault with a leap of 9-11¼. In addition, she tied her PR in the pole vault -- Mathews previously set it at the South Callaway HS Invitational on April 14 and at sectionals last season.

"She's such a great kid, right?" South Callaway coach Stephen Wisch said. "She's been in our program since seventh grade and been involved since seventh grade. Now, senior last event; she's gonna graduate in a couple of days. She was all-state last year and said, 'We're gonna go do it again.' That's a really tough thing, right? To kind of make it all the way through, be all-state two years in a row and finish her high school career is super impressive. We're really gonna miss her. She did a great job for us."

Butler's Annalee Gardner won the girls pole vault, going 11-07.

Rounding out the Bulldogs' all-state placings, Colten Crocker finished seventh in the boys pole vault with a PR distance of 12-09½. Crocker's previous PR was 12-06, which he achieved at districts this season.

"I did better today than I'd done all season," Crocker said.

Crocker explained what he did to prepare for his PR performance.

"Not going too hard before state, let my body rest and get ready the best you can," Crocker said.

School of the Ozarks' John Carswell took first in the boys pole vault, leaping 14-04¾.

Reece Pahl -- the only multi-event state qualifier between the two Class 2 Callaway County schools -- advanced to the finals in her two preliminary events.

"Oh, it means a lot. I'm impressed with the way -- how I did it," Pahl said.

In her first-ever state event, Pahl clocked in at 12.83 seconds to take fifth in the 100-meter dash. She ran the fastest of the four freshmen competing in the 100; North Platte's Olivia Rogers topped the leaderboard at 12.35.

Keeping up her strong start, Pahl finished sixth in the 200 dash (27.12), and she was one of two freshmen to make it to today's final. Lutheran North freshman Genesis Garner had the quickest preliminary time (25.90).

"I think I was placed in ninth, like seeded ninth for the 200, and I got sixth," Pahl said. "I had to practice really hard in the 200 to build my stamina for the last stretch, but it's working."

After Day 1, the Bulldogs sit 14th as a team, scoring seven points; Steelville tops the leaderboard with 20. The Lady Bulldogs sit 21st, notching four points; Tolton has an 11-point cushion, registering 30 to sit first.

"Extremely, extremely grateful. Our kids did awesome, right?" Wisch said. "We talked about, when we make it to state that that's an incredible accomplishment, right? And then to go another step further and get every single kid today kind of met their goal, right? Nathan, Lacey and Colten all ended up all-state. And then Reece made the finals in her two events that she had an opportunity to compete in today. So a really great day overall."

Pahl is the lone South Callaway student-athlete to compete on the final day of state. She will participate in three final events: the long jump at 10 a.m., 100 dash at 12:10 p.m. and 200 dash at 3:25 p.m. today.

"Reece kind of continued to do what she's done all year, right?" Wisch said. "We've kind of talked about her having the confidence to know and trust herself. That she's prepared, right? That she has put in the work and has the ability. It's all about having the right mindset and trying to just do our best, right? Again, wherever our number is when I tried to PR, and if that ends up putting us wherever it puts us place-wise. But rather than worrying about 'Oh, I got to win' or 'I have to get third' or whatever, it's, 'Can I PR today?' And if she does that, then we're really happy with where we're at tomorrow."

photo South Callaway sophomore Colten Crocker races down the runway on one of his attempts during the boys pole vault in the Class 2 state track and field championships at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City. (News Tribune/Kate Cassady)

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