The Jackson track and field program returns a total of four Class 5 All-State honorees from last season, and all four of those athletes helped lead their respective teams to take second place at the 23rd Annual Invitational of the South on Saturday.
The meet was comprised of 32 schools from the Midwest as the boys and girls teams were able to come away with 80-plus points.
Each team came away with three meet champions as the Indians took first in the 400-meter run (boys), the 1600-meter run (freshman girls), the 4×800-meter relay (girls), pole vault (boys and girls) and high jump (boys).
Reigning state medalist senior Jackson Rinehart took first in pole vault for the boys team with a mark of 14 feet, six inches, which was three feet higher than second place.
The other first-place finish on the field for the boys team came from junior Donya Marx with a 6-4 high jump. His leap was tied with two other athletes, but Marx only missed one of his jumps. Marx also placed in the top 10 of another event in the triple jump with a 41-8.75.
The lone top finisher on the track for Jackson was none other than junior Aaron Brown, who finished the 400-meter run in 51.07 seconds. This was 1.46 seconds faster than second place.
One of the returning all-staters for the girls team junior Erin Huff took first in pole vault for Jackson to sweep the event. Huff recorded a vault of 10-0 to do so, which was four inches higher than the runner-up and a foot better than third place.
The Jackson girls other returning state medalist is senior Kaylee Wilson, who took second place in the 1600 with a time of 2:32.4. The first-place finisher was freshman Henry County freshman Dinah Winders at 2:27.19.
Jackson’s only relay team to take first was the girls 4×800 team with a 10:33.99, which includes Wilson along with juniors Kayden Fisher and Ashlyn Prince and freshman Layla Fliege.
Fliege also took first in another event for Jackson, which was the freshman girls 1600, where she finished with a time of 5:56.97. Fellow freshman Maite Mendez was behind her in second at 5:59.33.
Senior Kennedy Bauer took second place in the varsity 1600, crossing the finish line at 5:24.6. Winders also took first in this event by posting a time of 5:14.06.
The girls 4×400 team made up by Bauer, Fisher, Wilson and senior Alexis Robson took second with a time of 4:29.84 to first-place Hop-kinsville’s 4:26.96.
Another Lady Indian to place in the top four was freshman Ryleigh Kilhafner in the 100-meter dash. She took sixth in the prelims with a time of 13.53 to qualify for the finals. Kilhafner took fourth in the finals at 13.38.
Only one of the boys relay teams placed in the top four, which was the 4×400 team, which took second at 3:35.32. This relay team is made up by Brown, Marx, junior Caleb Craft and sophomore Daniel Dickerson.
Craft was also able to take second in the 300-meter hurdles for the boys team with a time of 42.6 behind Northwest (Tennessee) senior Cedric Johnson, who took first at 40.3.
Jackson’s boys final top-four finish came in the 3200 as junior Luke Wendel posted a time of 10:12.91 to take third overall. Placing first in the event was Madisonville-North Hopkins senior Christian Parker at 9:48.74.
“This meet gave us a great opportunity to see some competition that we never get to compete against anywhere else,” Jackson head coach Jim Stoverink said. “I thought our kids did a great job of handling the long day and top notch competition very well. The only team that beat us in both divisions was Kentucky track and field powerhouse Paducah Tilghman.”
Both teams will now compete in the Rebel Relays held at North County in Bonne Terre. Jackson will face district opponents in the meet.