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Track and Field

St. Vincent track’s Reagan Meyer wins two state titles in first year

St. Vincent track and field sophomore Reagan Meyer won individual state championships in both the 800 and 1600-meter runs at the Class 2 State Meet back in May in Jefferson City. Submitted photo

For the very first time this spring, St. Vincent sophomore Reagan Meyer participated in track and field. Despite never doing the sport before, Meyer proved to be one of the very best track runners in not only Southeast Missouri but the entire state.

Last month in the Class 2 State Meet, Reagan won two individual state championships, doing so in the 800 and 1600-meter runs. She also took home a third all-state medal after taking fourth place in the 400-meter dash.

“Winning two state titles showed me that I can do anything I put my mind too,” Meyer said. “From the beginning of the year, I knew that I was going to have a great season. With this thought drilled into my head, I began to make sure I put in the work both on and off the track.

“Whether that be giving my all during workouts, eating nutritious foods, or getting good grades, I worked hard. Seeing my progress throughout the season made me realize that all my hard work had paid off.”

To win two state championships, Meyer first recorded a time of two minutes, 18.94 seconds to win the Class 2 title in the 800. She followed that up by crossing the finish line at 5:16.61 for the 1600 state championship. For her third and final state medal in the 400, Reagan posted a time of 58.88.

Interestingly enough prior to the Class 2 District 1 Meet, Meyer had never run all three races on the same day. Reagan, of course, won all three district championships in each event that day regardless, setting her up for a state meet to remember. She also won sectional titles in both the 800 and 1600 following the district meet.

“To perform on that level and in front of that many people [at state] was awesome,” Reagan said. “Going in to state, I was not expecting much from the crowd, but boy was I wrong. It hit me once I arrived at the stadium for practice on Thursday with my teammates. Both the track and field were covered by the other athletes.

“In regard to the magnitude of the trio of races, I was definitely nervous that I was not going to be able to pull them off. I had my doubts about the recovery time between races, but my coach believed that I could easily do it. Both the coaches and crowds support helped me through my races.”

The closest of the two races Meyer won a state title in was the 1600 as she won the event by less than half of a millisecond. Reagan did so by edging out Valle Catholic junior Madelyn Griffard (5:16.9), whom she had faced and beat at districts and sectionals as well.

Even though from the outside looking in one might see Meyer and Griffard as being rivals, that’s simply not the case. While these athletes are competitive as any other, track athletes are usually rather friendly with each other since there’s plenty of opportunities to chat before and after events. This has created a friendship between both Reagan and Madelyn even though they compete against each other quite often.

“The 1600 was the race I was most nervous about as the top three runners were all within milliseconds of each other,” Meyer said. “I’m friends with the girl, Madelyn Griffard, who placed second in the race. I remember as we were warming up, we began talking about our goals for this race. Knowing that we had similar goals calmed both of us down.

“From the start of the gun, I thought that Madelyn and I were going to lead the race based on our time goals. However, that was not the case. Realizing this, I doubled back to my usual race strategy of sit and kick. I made sure to stay towards the front of the pack, but I let the pack carry me.

“On the third or so lap, I felt myself getting boxed in and worked on positioning myself on the outside in order to take the lead on the fourth lap and kick. With doing this, I pulled Madelyn with me and kicked with about 200 meters left, and we both reached our goals.”

Comparatively, the 800 was a breeze for Meyer as she won the race by two seconds over another upperclassmen in South Harrison senior Hallee Chamberlin (2:20.98). The next finisher behind these two was nearly three and a half seconds behind Chamberlin and over five seconds behind Meyer.

“The 800 was a different story — I knew from the get go that I would have to go out hard and lead the race,” Meyer said. “My kick definitely saved me in the 800 as there were still girls right on my shoulder with 200 meters left. I can always rely and trust on my kick in those type of races.”

As for the 400 race that Meyer took fourth in, she finished 3.85 seconds behind the state champion of the event North Platte junior Lindsay Ramsey. Like Reagan, the second and third-place finishers were also sophomores, so next year’s race should also be one to watch should each runner return to state.

“The 400 was weird to me. At the beginning and throughout the season, the 400 was known as my event — my specialty,” Meyer said. “However, as I approached state, I began to question that statement when looking at my 800 and 1600. I didn’t perform as well as I was hoping too especially since it was my only race on Saturday.

“I had the same nervous buildup to it as I always had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with my overall place and performance, but I was just hoping to PR with a 56, which I did not. Next season, I’m looking forward to improving my 400 and bringing it towards the better state times.”

With these accolades in her first season, one should certainly believe Meyer is already arguably the best female track athlete to ever step foot on St. Vincent’s campus. If not, Meyer also broke all three school records in her three races as just a sophomore and helped the 4×400-meter relay team set a new school record as well.

Along with winning two state, two sectional and three individual district championships, Reagan won JCAA Conference championships in the 400 and 800.

“This season’s success sets me up for the success of the rest of high school,” Reagan noted. “I say this as I now know what I’m capable of and am going to have these expectations for the rest of my performances. This coming season I’m really looking towards improving on the cross country course.

“With this past track season, I know what I am capable of running on the course. This puts me in a position of looking towards many more state titles and not settling for mediocre times.”

Unfortunately for St. Vincent’s girls track team, Meyer was the only Indian to qualify for this year’s state meet. The Indians still regarded a top-10 finish, though, as Reagan scored 25 points all on her own for St. Vincent to place ninth as a team. North Platte won the Class 2 State Championship by scoring 45 points.

Even though Meyer wasn’t joined by any of her female teammates at state, she still had a memorable time aside from the success she had individually.

“I have so many fun memories from state. It doesn’t matter who you travel there with you are guaranteed to have lasting memories,” Reagan said. “It’s really just the simple moments of messing around the hotel with your teammates and even runners from other schools that make the trip exciting.

“A wholesome memory, though, was when a guy was attempting to pole vault the state record and the whole stadium was clapping for him during his attempts. State also allowed me to make so many new friends that I normally wouldn’t have the chance to make.”

To no one’s surprise, Meyer was also a state qualifier in cross country as she placed 41st overall in the Class 1 State Meet back in November. Reagan only started running this summer and has high hopes of improving in both track and cross country heading into her junior year.

Meyer is also a member of the St. Vincent girls basketball team that had a historic, 24-win season her freshman year. The Indians are hopeful for an even more historic campaign next winter.

“This was my first year at state,” Meyer said. “I began running only this past summer, the summer of my sophomore year. While I did go to state during cross country season, I did not perform as well as track because I was still finding my way as a new runner.

“I enjoy running because I feel accomplished after the fact. Additionally, running is an individual performance so you have nobody else to blame but yourself. I like this as it tests my self discipline and performance. Running feels freeing.”

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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