McDonald County’s Courtni Smith won a state championship in the Class 3 girls’ triple jump and tied for fourth in the high jump, while Neosho’s Tiffany Gilford grabbed a medal with a seventh place finish in the Class 4 long jump, and East Newton’s Emily Sorrell took eighth in the Class 3 1600-meter run at the MSHSAA State Track and Field Championships at Dwight T. Reed Stadium on the campus of Lincoln University this weekend.
Smith’s title came the final jump of her career, as the senior finished five inches in front of her opponent at 36-feet-11.75 on Saturday. She also tied with Hallsville’s Mylin Kilpack in the high jump with a height of 5-3 to grab fourth on Saturday. On Friday, Smith took 11th in the long jump with a leap of 16-03.75. Fellow Lady Mustang Rebekah Nandico placed 10th in the pole vault on Friday with a height of 9-feet. Nicole Ickes finished 15th in preliminaries in the 100 dash.
Sorrell’s eighth-place finish in the 1600 was in a time of 5:13.67 on Friday. She returned with another distance run on Saturday, taking 12th in the 3200 run in 12:11.08.
The Lady Mustangs took 15th overall with 14.5 team points.
On Friday, Gilford had a pair of 16th place finishes in preliminaries in the 100 hurdles and 100 dash. She responded on Saturday by jumping 17-01.75 in the long jump to take seventh. To make her medal win more impressive — she’s only been competing in the long jump for about four weeks.
“I fell in the hurdles, and the 100 meter dash was a little rough too, but I tried my best,” Gilford said. “I came into the long jump and my coach (Zac Nelson) told me to stay strong and come out here and do my best. That’s what I did. It was a little shaky at first, but I kept on going and did my best.”
On Friday, Neosho’s Justin McKee just missed on a medal when he took ninth in the long jump with a leap of 21-05.25. The senior also helped the 4x200 team along with Darrian Guillory, Davin Bentz and Tyler Pearson take 12th in preliminaries. Guillory went on to take 12th in preliminaries in the 400 dash, setting a new school record along the way with a time of 49.42 — breaking the old NHS record by two-tenths of a second.
Gilford had nothing but high praises for the coaching staff at NHS and the direction of the track and field program.
“The coaches at Neosho are amazing,” Gilford said. “(Nelson’s) the greatest coach. I just started long jumping four weeks ago, and he was encouraging me the whole way. I was behind the board a lot and he was just encouraging me, ‘Hey, you can do this.’”
Gilford, who was all-conference in the 100 hurdles and 100 dash, and was all-district champion in the 100 dash, 100 hurdles and long jump, says she’s already looking forward to next season.
“I can’t wait for next season,” she said. “Definitely going to continue the long jump. I think I’ve got much more success coming in that.”