(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
JEFFERSON CITY -- The Sikeston Bulldogs track and field team know where they stand among the rest of the Class 3 state competitors.
Sikeston head coach Terry Flannigan has totaled the projected times and distances of his squad as well as the two schools that could likely give his Bulldogs the most trouble; Staley High School of Kansas City and University City High School of St. Louis.
His findings have the Bulldogs at a best-case scenario of a third place finish.
"They call them mock track meets," Flannigan said. "I figured it up where we will tie for third or take fourth. If we perform to what we're capable of.
"We're going to have some help because schools like Staley and University City are pretty strong."
A couple of falters from the competition and a solid performance from the horses that brought the Bulldogs this far, may have Sikeston hoisting their second-straight track and field team state championship in Jefferson City on Saturday at Lincoln University.
"I told them that we're going to have to hit on all cylinders and hope that Staley or U. City stubs their toe along the way," Flannigan said.
The staples of the boys squad the last few seasons has been the jump events. The combination of Cal Lane, Dominic Fondon and Demetrius Jackson carried the Bulldogs to their first team championship in school history just a season ago.
They are expecting that same leadership from this year's version of Darryl Howard and Trey Lewis, both of whom compete in the long and triple jump.
"I'm expecting big things out of them both," Sikeston jump coach Andy Proffer said. "They're going to be extremely important to us, because of the fact that if we get first and second in long jump and triple jump, we're in state championship contention.
"We have potential to be top three in both."
The duo finished first and second in the long jump and second and fourth in the triple jump in the sectional round at Farmington last weekend. Lewis grabbed first in the long jump with just one registered jump after scratching two other times. Howard took second in the triple jump with a jump of 43-feet, 8-inches.
As far as the state seedings go, Lewis is seeded first in the long jump while Howard is seeded a close second. But with Howard seeded seventh and Lewis seeded 11th in the triple jump, they both know improvements in the triple need to be made to give their team a shot.
"Obviously in the triple there is more work that we need to do," said Lewis. "We're using our time right now to practice our triple jump and get our steps right to possibly place higher."
"Me and Trey, we know we have to finish first to third or somewhere in there if we want another chance to get a ring," Howard added.
It helps them both knowing that they have each other to watch and learn from. It's also used as a motivational tool for them as well. A bit of nudging and provoking comes with the territory.
Something that the Bulldogs had fun doing last year.
"(Lewis and Howard) learned from those boys last year that as long as they push themselves they will make themselves better by doing that," said Proffer.
"We do good on purpose just to make the other one try and beat us," Howard said.
"It's just about competition," Lewis added. "We come out here and push each other. It's all about bettering each other and getting team points together and getting a win for the boys."
With the jumpers possibly leading the way, not too far behind will be the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams. The anchor of both, represents every sense of the word.
Ismail Johnson is described by Flannigan as a first and foremost 'great kid, who is quiet and stays to himself.' His actions in the last leg of both relays definitely speak louder than Johnson ever would.
"He's a kid that half the time you don't know he's here," said Flannigan. "He works and he's quiet and does what he's supposed to do. When I mention Ismail, they know that he's going to leave his guts out there.
"They know that the rest of the team has to do something because Ismail in going to give everything that he's got."
The 4x200 team of Quentin Washington, Alex Clark, Martez Evans and Johnson and the 4x400 team of Tanner Bryant, Washington, Alex Clark and Johnson each won first in their respective events at sectionals.
They are each seeded third in the preliminary round for state. They too will be looked upon to give the Bulldogs their chance at first.
The 110-meter hurdles ran by Alex Clark and the 300 hurdles ran by Tanner Bryant as well as Ray Clark in the 100-meter dash and Josh Carlyle in the shot put will all be chances for the Bulldogs to earn points that weren't expected.
The highest preliminary seeding is Alex Clark, who is seeded ninth in the 110 hurdles. Bryant is seeded 14th while both Carlyle and Ray Clark are seeded 15th.
"Our hurdlers are going to have to do real well, Ray (Clark) in the 100 will have to do real well," Flannigan said. "Josh (Carlyle) in the shot put, if he hits one of his good throws, he'll score some points that we haven't planned on.
"Those four events are big," Flannigan said. "We should do well in our jumps and we should do well in our relays and its going to be those open events that can make a few more points for us."
On the girls side, a possible team championship may not be in the cards but there are a few Lady Bulldogs that have a chance to medal.
Sophomore Betsy Borgsmiller is seeded eighth in the high jump with a mark of 5-feet, 2-inches. The No. 1 seed of Morgan Whitson from Moberly High School is marked with a jump of 5-feet, 8 inches.
"If she gets in the right groove, Betsy could get a 5-6 and win the whole thing," said Flannigan. "She's a tremendous worker. She's going to do well and I hope for her that she can do well."
The 4x200 relay team of Vonteria Applewhite, Frankasia Howard, Jalen Peet and Tyanne Townsend are seeded 11th. Applewhite is seeded 12th in the 200-meter dash while Townsend is seeded 14th in the 100-meter dash.
"Our relay team has an outside chance," Flannigan said. "We're lucky to have Vonterria in the 200 and Tyanne out in the 100.
"I'd like to see them all get in the finals so they can get on that stand and get them a medal because they've worked hard."
The high jump and pole vault events will conclude on Friday while all other events will consist of prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday. Results from the Class 3 state championship will be ran in both the Sunday and Tuesday editions of the Standard Democrat.