The Neosho boys’ track and field team exceeded expectations this week at the MSHSAA Track and Field Championships at Dwight T. Reed Stadium on the campus of Lincoln University.
After making history as the first boys relay team to qualify in both the 4x100 and 4x200 meters in the same season in school history, the boys — seeded 15th and 16th entering the events, respectively — took 10th in the 4x200 and 13th in the 4x200. Their run of 1:30.54 in the 4x100 left them just two places shy of achieving all-state status.
But the main highlight of the weekend belonged to Justin McKee. After competing in both relays on Friday, the junior returned on Saturday and achieved all-state status in the long jump by placing eighth with a distance of 20’11.75.
“I’m very excited for our boys,” Wildcats coach Zac Nelson said. “Obviously, Justin went up and came home an all-state long jumper, and the other kids exceeded expectations. They beat Carthage, a team we hadn’t beat all year, in the 4x100.
“It was a really good trip. The kids, their mental toughness stood out — especially for Justin. When you’re out in the sun all day, if you don’t take care of yourself you can come out and have a tough time.”
Despite having better running conditions at the sectional meet, not to mention a better lane, the Wildcats ran just a tick slower than the school record they set at sectionals in the 4x200.
“We ran just off the school record,” Nelson said. “It probably wasn’t as optimal a day as sectionals. Still, a few kids probably ran better than they’ve ran all year, and that’s really all you can ask.
“I think if you would have told anyone before the season that we’d do as well as we did in the relays at state, they wouldn’t have believed it.”
Neosho’s Logan Davidson also competed in the high jump at the state meet.
Nelson said he believes this team effectively laid the foundation for future classes to build on.
“For us to get the kids up there and for us to place is another step toward what we’re trying to do with our track program,” he said. “And I think these kids kind of built the foundation for it to keep improving over the next couple of years.”