Burkett, Martin take second for Jefferson City

Jefferson City’s Joey Burkett competes in the pole vault Friday at Dwight T. Reed Stadium.

Jefferson City’s Joey Burkett competes in the pole vault Friday at Dwight T. Reed Stadium. Photo by Kris Wilson.

On a day where second place was the best finish for the Jefferson City track and field teams, it seems fitting there were two of them.

The first day of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 3-4 Track and Field Championships was a mixed bag for the Jays and Lady Jays. But the Friday portion of the meet did have two bright spots — Joey Burkett took second in the Class 4 boys pole vault and Kezia Martin picked up the same spot in the Class 4 girls long jump.

Burkett, who battled his way back from ankle surgery after a football injury, said the end of his track and field career finally hit him Friday.

“Until I was sitting there (before the medals ceremony), I didn’t realize that was probably going to be my last time jumping ever,” he said.

Burkett was one of three vaulters to clear 15 feet even, but he wasn’t able to defend his state title when Poplar Bluff’s Austin Barousse needed fewer jumps to clear the height.

“Obviously, when you’re the defending state champion, you want to defend it,” Jefferson City coach Dan Ridgeway said. “But second in the state is nothing to sneeze at.”

And Burkett forced Barousse to jump a foot more than his seed height to win the title. Dylan Rush of Jackson, who took third at 15-0, also jumped a foot above his seed height.

“The guy who won did great, everybody jumped great, the competition was great,” Burkett said.

Burkett, who will play football at the University of Missouri, said rehabbing from his injury meant he never got enough reps all season long.

“(Friday) I got on my 210-pound pole, which I hadn’t gotten on all year, and that proved to go against me, because I didn’t hardly make it into the pit with that pole.”

Ridgeway said the entire season was an exercise in patience.

“We’ve had to limit how many jumps he’s taken, how high we’ve allowed him to go,” Ridgeway said. “We’ve obviously got to think big-picture with him, as far as his future in college for the University of Missouri. As a coach, you never want to abuse somebody, you’ve got to think big picture.”

Thinking also factored into Martin’s second-place finish, but perhaps in a bad way. The junior recorded a leap of 17-61⁄2 to finish back of Blue Springs’ Jazmin McCoy’s winning mark of 18-91⁄2, but Martin said the whole day was a struggle.

“I think I was just thinking too much,” she said with a laugh. “... I’m excited about getting second, but I didn’t jump as well as I wanted to.”

Ridgeway said part of the frustration came from Martin wanting to continue a trend that saw her post a personal record of 18-41⁄2 at last week’s sectional meet.

“She wanted to set a PR — she jumped 18-4 last week and she wanted to better that,” he said.

In other girls action Friday, Haley Watson was the only Lady Jay to advance out of prelims, as she qualified eighth for today’s 300-meter hurdles final (46.63). Louisa Nylander of the Lady Jays was 11th (47.03) and didn’t move on.

“Haley Watson qualifies for the finals in her first year of doing the 300 hurdles, that’s great,” Ridgeway said.

In other prelim events, which advance eight to the finals, Martin finished 14th in the 100-meter hurdles (16.04), the 4x100-meter relay team placed 10th (50.41), the 4x200-meter relay team finished 13th (1:47.15) and the 4x400-meter relay team came in 14th (4:06.68).

In finals-only events, the 4x800-meter relay team was ninth (9:41.97) and Alexis Roberson finished 14th in the discus (103-4).

“We set PRs in the relays — we did better than what we were seeded and better than we were all year, but bottom line, we just weren’t fast enough.”

On the boys side, in the only other finals-only event Friday, Zainu Mansaray finished 10th in the discus (148-8) for the Jays.

Advancing out of prelims to today’s finals were Thomas LePage in the 400-meter dash (seventh, 49.64), the 4x100-meter relay team (sixth, 42.73) and the 4x200 relay team (seventh, 1:29.67).

“Thomas LePage had an outstanding meet,” Ridgeway said. “In the 4x2, he ran a great leg and had a PR, the 4x4 we were way behind and he just manned up and ran another PR on his split. He had an outstanding meet and the good thing is, he gets to run a couple more times (Saturday).”

Failing to advance for the Jays were Mervyn John in 110-meter hurdles (11th, 15.59) and 300 hurdles (13th, 40.62), Elijah Sherwood in the 200-meter dash (13th, 22.81), Caleb Ruth in the 800-meter run (16th, 2:09.31) and the 4x400-meter relay team (14th, 3:28.65).

Additional coverage:

Friday's MSHSAA Track & Field Championship Results

Rhine makes it 2-for-2 in the high jump

Blair Oaks has several key events Saturday

Southern Boone’s Bartel wins Class 3 high jump

Helias’ Will Fife wins shot put state title

California's Deeken wins triple jump

Follow Saturday's coverage:

Schedule of area qualifiers at Saturday's MSHSAA Track & Field Championships

MSHSAA.org results page, compiled as available

News Tribune sports reporters on Twitter at: @NTsports | @adamstillman87 | @tony_hawley | @Brent_Foster | @tjrackers

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