For the second straight state championship, Autumn Baker spent a portion of the 3,200-meter run in first. Her next goal is to finish it there.
A year after finishing five-hundredths of a second away from a Class 1 3,200-meter championship, the Chamois junior took fifth Friday at the Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 1-2 Track and Field Championships at Dwight T. Reed Stadium in Jefferson City.
She felt positive about her run. After having what she called a "slow season," Baker improved upon her qualifying time by more than 30 seconds.
"I can't really complain," she said. "The way my season's been going, I'm pretty happy, yeah."
Baker was in first place after the second of eight laps and gradually fell to fifth, where she remained for the final mile. She said her early lead was simply a result of the way the race went.
"I just run," she said. "I don't go by anybody's pace. I just do whatever feels right."
Baker ran the anchor leg of Chamois' 4x800-meter relay earlier in the day. In both of her races Friday, she looked drained of energy the moment she crossed the finish line.
"I always am," she said.
Baker finished fourth in the 3,200 her freshman year. With one track season to go, she plans to finish what she's started.
"I'm hoping to come back stronger next year," she said.
Several area athletes advanced from Friday's preliminaries to today's finals in their respective events.
• Jamestown's Mickayla Strother qualified seventh in the 100-meter hurdles.
• Chamois' Lucas Kuhn and Aaron Brandt qualified sixth and eighth, respectively, in the 110-meter hurdles.
• Kuhn also qualified third in the 300-meter hurdles.
• St. Elizabeth's Wes Huhman qualified fourth in the 200-meter dash.