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Track and Field

Jackson boys and girls track and field teams sweep SEMO Conference Meet

Jackson junior Megan Berger was named the SEMO Conference Meet Most Valuable Field Performer after winning the triple jump and taking fourth in high jump in the conference meet Saturday at Notre Dame. Photos by Nick McNeal

This past Saturday at Notre Dame, the Jackson boys and girls track and field team asserted dominance in Southeast Missouri by sweeping the SEMO Conference Meet across the north, south, east and west divisions.

Along with being the largest school in the conference, the Indians won a combined six events (four boys conference championships, two girls) and had a total of 25 all-conference finishes with 13 from the boys and 12 from girls squad.

Jackson’s girls team had an athlete earn one of the top four individual conference honors as junior Megan Berger was named the SEMO Conference All Division Meet Most Valuable Field Performer. Berger won the triple jump event with a leap of 35 feet, nine-and-a-half inches, while she took fourth overall in high jump (4-8) and sixth in long jump (15-5).

Jackson’s boys team split four conference championships between the track and the field as senior Hunter Wendel, who won not one but two titles on the day. Wendel did so individually in the 3200-meter run as he posted a time of nine minutes, 29.48 seconds, which was less than a second faster than runner-up fellow Indians senior Cade McCadams time of 9:30.46.

Both McCadams and Wendel teamed together to help Jackson win its second conference title in distance running as members of the 4×800-meter relay team. They were joined by senior Cole Puls and junior Bryce Gentry to combine for a conference championship winning time of 8:05.31 (nearly 20 seconds ahead of second).

Gentry and Puls also medaled individually at conference as Bryce took second in the 1600-meter run with a time of 4:30.07 and finished third in the 800 at 2:03.7. Puls placed ahead of Gentry in the 800 by crossing the finish line at the 2:00.2-mark. Also earning all-conference for the 1600 was senior Evan Kiefer, who will sign with the University of Missouri – Kansas City tomorrow, as he took third in the race (4:32.63).

The final two runners to earn all-conference for Jackson were senior Andrew Boyd and freshman Barrett Reagan. Boyd took third overall in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.12, while Reagan also finished third in the 400-meter dash, posting a time of 52.02.

Claiming conference gold on the field for the Indians were throwers senior Noah Gibson and Nicholas Heisserer. Gibson won discus with a heave of 141-11.25, while he also finished third in the shot put with a mark of 44-2.75.

Heisserer won the conference championship in shot put as he recorded a throw of 46-9.75, which was a foot longer than the runner-up throw. Like Gibson, Nicholas took third in the event Noah won as he did so in the discus (127-6).

The final field athlete for Jackson to earn all-conference was senior Braeden Cain in pole vault with a leap of 13-6, which was only four inches shorter than first-place Malden senior Rylan Bell’s mark of 14-0.

As for Jackson’s girls team, the Indians won one conference title apiece on the track and field as their 4×800-meter relay team took first with a time of 10:32.06. Making up this team for Jackson were senior Mara Wilson, junior Grace Kurtz and freshmen Emma Niedbalski and Kalissa Smith.

Jackson had two other relay teams place in the top three to earn all-conference in the girls team’s 4×200 and 4×400 squads as both took third.

The Indians 4×400 team was comprised of the Metzger sisters seniors Gracie and Mallorie Metzger, along with Niedbalski and junior Lydia Golinski. They finished with a final time of 4:26.1, as Mallorie went on to medal in two more events.

Mallorie Metzger took second in both the 800 and 1600-meter runs with times of 2:23.72 and 5:24.07, respectively. Niedbalski finished third overall in the 800 behind Metzger at 2:31.41.

Also earning all-conference in multiple events like Metzger on the track was sophomore Annika Barks, who was the runner-up in the 3200-meter run (11:59.99) and took third in the 1600 (5:26.06).

Outside of Berger, Jackson had two other athletes earn all-conference honors in seniors Lillian Gibbs, who has signed with Indiana State, and Briaysia Purl. Gibbs took second and third in javelin and discus, respectively, with heaves of 131-0.75 and 110-10. Purl finished one spot ahead of Lillian in discus with a mark of 113-0.

Moving on to Notre Dame’s track and field program, the Bulldogs had a combined total of 17 all-conference finishes between their girls (11) and boys teams (six).

Notre Dame junior Lauren Eftink won three individual races and also helped the 4×400-meter relay team take home conference gold as well. Eftink won the 800 (2:22.75), the 1600 (5:19.73) and the 3200 (11:56.57), while she helped the 4×400 team record a finish of 4:14.84.

Lauren was named the SEMO Conference All Division Meet Most Valuable Track Performer for winning all of the events she competed in (see page 7 for a full feature on Eftink).

On the 4×400 team with Eftink was senior Jenna Givens, who will continue her track and field career at Saint Louis. Jenna was also the runner-up in triple jump with a leap of 34-11.75, where fellow 4×400 runner sophomore Lilly Carr took third for individual all-conference honors as well with a mark of 34-3.5.

The fourth and final runner for Notre Dame’s conference championship 4×400 team was sophomore Courtney Tatum.

Also winning an individual conference title like Eftink were Bulldogs field athletes junior Emma Duenne and sophomore Abigail Spooler. Duenne won discus with a throw of 117-3.75, which was a throw that was four feet further than Jackson Purl’s throw. Duenne also took third overall in shot put (34-2.75).

As for Spooler, she became a conference champion in pole vault by being the only female athlete at the meet to record a vault of above 10 feet at 10-6. Fellow Bulldog senior Katelyn Turner, who signed with Maryville last week, took third in the event with a 9-0 jump to also earn all-conference honors.

Turner’s twin sister senior Molly Turner took home an all-conference medal as well as she placed third overall in the 3200 behind Eftink and Barks at 12:18.58.

Moving to the boys team, seniors Cole Bruenderman and Davis Dow each won individual conference championships in their respective events. Bruenderman, who has already signed with Lindenwood, won long jump with a leap of 22-4.5, which was a foot higher than the event’s runner-up.

Bruenderman also earned all-conference in triple jump at 43-10.75, while he was also on the runner-up 4×100 (43.64) and 4×200-relay teams (1:31.93) with Dow.

As for Dow, he became a conference champion by winning the 300-meter hurdles by crossing the finish line at the 41.41-mark. This was almost one second and a half faster than second place.

Bulldogs junior Jacob Brown was a member of the 4×100 and 4×200 all-conference teams with Bruenderman and Dow, and he also took second individually in the 100-meter dash (10.93).

Earning all-conference as well as a member of the 4×100 was future Southeast Missouri State Redhawk senior Greg Dennis, while senior Aden Marshall was the fourth Bulldog in the 4×200.

Indians seniors Hunter Wendel (left in right photo) won the 3200-meter run while Cade McCadams took second and both were on the championship 4×800-meter relay team.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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