Throughout the storied career of the Neosho track and field program, there isn't much that hasn't already been accomplished in the 30-plus years of the program.
But on Saturday, four Neosho boys added their names to the record books and are believed to be the only ones to ever accomplish this feat. Justin McKee, Darrian Guillory, Isaac McMaster and Ryan Taylor are believed to be the first foursome ever to qualify both boys sprint relays — the 4x200 meter and 4x100 — in the same season to the MSHSAA State Championships in Jefferson City, Mo.
In doing so, the team also broke the school record in the 4x200, a record that stood for 13 years, with a time of 1:30.30 — besting the old time of 1:30.50.
"When they crossed (the finish line) I looked at my watch and I knew there was no question they broke it," Wildcats coach Zac Nelson said. "That was one of our goals: number one being giving ourselves a chance to advance, and another was to try to break that record. That says a lot about our team speed."
The group brought home fourth in the 4x100 with a time of 43.89.
Five of the nine competitors the Wildcats took to the Class 4, Sectional 3 meet qualified for state.
After not clearing 6-foot all season, senior Logan Davidson set a personal record with a height of 6'4 to finish third and qualify for state in the high jump. McKee will compete in three events next week as he also qualified in the long jump with a distance of 21'2.75, good for fourth place.
Of the Wildcats to just miss the cut, both Kylee Hulsey and Tiffany Gilford finished fifth, respectively, just one place shy of a medal. Hulsey actually jumped the same height as state qualifier Brooke Stanfield (Republic) at 5'3, but lost the tiebreaker on missed attempts. Gilford took fifth in the 100 hurdles with a time of 16.34.
Sydnie Lowe, meanwhile, finished sixth in the girls' 300 hurdles with a time of 49.16, and McMaster, despite running his best time of the year, ran against a deep field of competition and took seventh in the boys' 300 hurdles.
As a team, the boys finished 10th with 25 points.
"It warmed up and it was a perfect day," Nelson said. "There was a little bit of a headwind, but otherwise it was really a pretty good day to run, and I think the times reflect that.
"While we would have liked to have taken three more (kids) to state, the thing is they all ran their best, or as close to their best, performance. They did their best today and, in some cases, we got beat. But they still gave it their best."
Praising his team's resolve and focus, Nelson said he might have felt more nerves than any Wildcat competitor at sectionals.
Page 2 of 2 - "I was nervous today, and I thought we had some big-time opportunities in front of us," Nelson said. "I feel like the sectional meet is more pressure-packed. There are eight teams and they're all pretty good. I'm really excited. It was just a good day."
The MSHSAA State Track and Field Championships for Class 3 and Class 4 run May 24-25 at Dwight T. Reed Stadium on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.