Last week in the second annual Jungle Pentathlon held at Cape Central, the Saxony Lutheran girls track and field team once again had an athlete take home a top award.
In only her second-ever season of track, Crusaders sophomore Abby Haley took home the “Princess of the Jungle” award by taking second overall with a combined score of 1,991 in five events: 110-meter hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put and 800-meter run.
“[Winning ‘Princess of the Jungle’] feels good — I was really nervous coming into this, but I’m glad I did it,” Haley said. “I had a really good time. I just started the 100-meter hurdles this year, so that was new. I’m not a shot put thrower, and high jump is not for me, but I’m very competitive, and I really enjoy track.”
Even though Haley didn’t win any of the events, she placed high enough throughout each one to place ahead of Jackson senior Gracie Metzger, who has signed with Maryville and scored 1,984 points.
Abby was the runner-up in both the 800-meter run (two minutes, 53.55 seconds) and shot put (25 feet, 1.25 inches), while she took fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (18.39) and long jump (13-1.5). The event Haley placed the lowest in was high jump (4-2) at fifth place.
“It was fun to compete with other people and do other events that I’m not used to,” Haley said. “Those other people weren’t used to it either, so it was relaxing and like, ‘I’m not doing this by myself.’ The most difficult part was the mindset coming into this. I wasn’t sure about it, but my coach [Max Wieser] told me he was putting me in it, and I showed up today.”
Metzger took third overall with a score of 1,984 as she won the 800 at 2:51.61 and shot put with a heave of 26-9.25. Gracie finished second in the 100 hurdles with a personal-record time of 17.15 behind the “Queen of the Jungle” in Lindbergh junior Kylie Scott.
Scott, who scored 2,424 points to win the pentathlon, also won both high jump and long jump. She finished third overall in the 800 and ended up fourth in shot put. Metzger took sixth in both high jump and long jump.
Along with being a member of the track team, Haley is on Saxony’s soccer team this spring. Abby also plays for Saxony’s basketball team in the winter, and she’s a tennis standout in the fall, where she took seventh in the Class 1 State Tournament.
“Coach Wieser believes in me so much more than I believe in myself, and he definitely pushes me to be my best,” Haley said. “When I complain, he’s like, ‘You’re an athlete — you’ve got it. Just adapt to the environment.’ He pushes me to be the best I can, and I’m really glad he does that for me.”
Last spring, 2022 graduate and current Southeast Missouri State Redhawk Anna Thomason won the inaugural Jungle Pentathlon by 137 points. Haley is following in the footsteps of an athlete like Anna who also played multiple sports outside of track (cross country, volleyball, basketball and soccer).
In the Class 2 State Meet, Thomason helped the Crusaders take home third place as she won the individual state championship in the 110-meter hurdles and took second in high jump and triple jump. Anna, of course, did this while also playing for the soccer team like Haley is doing this spring, too.
“I look up to Anna a lot, and I went to state with her last year,” Haley said. “She’s a good role model. I was an alternate at state last year, but it was really cool to see that experience and cheer my teammates on.
“My coaches work really well together for me to do both track and soccer, and they basically just leave it up to me for what I want to go to. As of now, it’s working, and I go to morning practices for track and then after school I go to soccer practice.”
This is Haley’s first time ever playing soccer competitively, and she was influenced by Saxony soccer’s head coach Chris Crawford to try it out. Crawford was the basketball team’s junior varsity head coach last season.
“Crawford is a good coach, and we’re doing pretty well this year — starting out pretty strong,” Abby said. “Ready to play Notre Dame next week. … Crawford told me I could be really good at soccer, and I was like, ‘No, it’s not for me.’ This year, he pushed it again, and I was like, ‘OK, maybe I’ll try it. It looks fun.’”
On the boys side, Jackson senior Andrew Boyd took third place with a final score of 2,821 as he won the 800 by crossing the finish line at 2:16.96. Boyd was also the runner-up in long jump (17-4.25) and placed third in the 110 hurdles (15.88) and high jump (4-11.75).
Fellow Indian senior Kyle Craigmiles placed fifth overall at 2,496 after winning shot put (39-4.75) and taking second in the 800 behind Boyd with a finish of 2:18.32. Craigmiles didn’t place higher than fifth overall in the three other events.
Taking the top-two awards at the Jungle Pentathlon were Cape athletes senior Jamauri Brooks-Davis and sophomore Elliot Allen with scores of 3,275 and 2,847, respectively. Brooks-Davis won both high jump and long jump, and he took second in the 110 hurdles and shot put. Allen won the 110 hurdles, while finishing third in the 800 and shot put.