(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
JEFFERSON CITY -- The Sikeston boys track team is on the bubble.
They have enough competitors to make some noise but the teams above them have just as many -- or more.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs will look to edge their way towards a high finish during the Class 3 state track meet on Friday and Saturday at Dwight T. Reed Stadium on the campus of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
"It's going to be a tough meet," Sikeston head track coach Terry Flannigan said. "Just figuring it up from last week's meet we have an outside shot of getting in the top four.
"We need some people to step up to where, if they are expected to get fourth, they need a second."
Based on the sectional team scores from last week, as a team Sikeston is ranked fifth.
They fall well behind qualifying leader Grandview, who comes into the meet with a total of 125 team points from last week.
Farmington (87), Lutheran South (85) and Bolivar (84) are slightly ahead of Sikeston's 75 sectional team points.
"The other teams that are above us are really, really strong," said Flannigan. "If we go in there and halfway perform, we'll be very sad when we leave the track."
The boys best chances at a first place finish rely in the hands of their 400- and 800-meter relay teams.
Although they are topped by both Gateway and Berkeley, Sikeston has somewhat of a chance to upend the state's top-two speed relay teams.
Sikeston's 400-meter squad consists of Quentin Washington, Darryl Howard, Ray Clark and James Watson. Their 800-meter is made up by Washington, Nick Nichols, Kyland Gross and Clark.
They go into this weekend's meet falling to Gateway in both events during the sectional meet.
Gateway barely clipped Sikeston in the 400 relay with a time of 42.83 as opposed to Sikeston's 43.16. It was the same in the 800 relay -- Gateway ran a 1:28.69 while Sikeston crossed with a 1:28.75.
"We have a little bit of a revenge factor going in there," Flannigan said. "I'm not going to name the school but they were kind of in our face after our speed relays. So, our boys are really pumped up about that."
Both Trey Lewis and Darryl Howard have what it takes to bring home the first and second place finishes in the long jump. One of them took first just a season ago.
This year, Lewis is ranked fifth and Howard ranks sixth in the event but return from very impressive performances from last year where Lewis nabbed first and Howard grabbed fourth.
Lewis jumped 22-3 1/2 while Howard had a 21-10 1/4 during sectionals last week. They are looking up at Smithville's Tyler Lamb, who is the only competitor to reach over 23-feet.
Lewis will also compete in the high jump but will have his hands full as four others have hit 6-8 before the state meet. Lewis jumped just 6-0 at sectionals earning him fourth.
Terry Jamison will have an outside shot to point in the triple jump.
He's behind sectional opponent Jacob Kent in the seeds as well as last year's state champion Darion Bourne from University City who jumped a 45-3 last week.
Deon Bradshaw, from Wright City, defeated Bourn during sectionals with a 46-10.
Jamison finished second with a jump of 44-5 1/4 during sectionals.
John Burroughs' Ezekiel Elliot and Grandview's Dapo Akinmoladun are expected to fight for first in the 110-meter hurdles which will give Sikeston qualifier, Keldon Warfield, something to shoot for.
Warfield is coming off of a third place finish with a time of 15.72 during sectionals. Elliott ran a 14.53 last week while Akinmoladun finished with a 14.56.
Washington, also a member in both of Sikeston's relays, ran an 11.17 and a 22.56 in the 100 and 200-meter dashes last week which qualified him in both this weekend.
He finished fourth in both but has an uphill battle ahead of him while facing some of the state's fastest athletes.
In the 100, Berkeley's Lonell Watkins holds the edge as the only sprinter who has ran under 11 seconds. Washington's fastest time to date is his 11.17 he ran Saturday.
Washington will also have a tough time in the 200 as he faces sectional opponent Minek Ford from Affton, who is the pole sitter with a 22.21.
"Our kids know. They know what it takes," Flannigan said. "You have to compete at a high level. If we go up and compete the best we can, everything will take care of itself."
As for the girls, chances of placing in the top four, team-wise, are slim.
They placed third and scored 43 points last week in their sectional meet which falls well behind MICDS' 157 and Lincoln College Prep's 102.
They also fall behind Warrensburg (87), Affton (86), Festus (84), Maryville (78) and Hannibal (77).
Betsy Borgsmiller leads the girls team with the best chances of bringing home a gold medal. She sits atop all of her competitors with a jump of 5-8.
And although Borgsmiller comes in as the state's highest jumper, she will have others nipping at her heels on Friday.
Anna Soyck from Excelsior Springs is just and inch behind at 5-7 while Festus' Breanne Borman looks to improve on her third place finish from last year.
Borgsmiller looks to improve on her fourth place finish last year as a sophomore.
"She wants to improve," Flannigan said. "She has a real good chance. There's a lot of girls that's around her which should help push all of them."
Both Allisha Ogelsby and Jalen Peet are coming off of third and fourth place finishes at sectionals in the triple jump, but will have a tough time toppling what lies ahead of them.
Warrensburg's Briana Carter will return, who finished second overall last year and holds the top jump of 37-5 1/2.
Along with Carter, five other qualifiers hold jumps higher than 36-0. Ogelsby and Peet jumped 35-6 and 35-0 1/4, respectively. However, Peet's seed going into the sectional meet was 35-3.
University City holds the edge in both of Sikeston's qualifying 400- and 800-meter relays.
It will be a tough test for Vonteria Applewhite, Darqueshionna Howard, Ogelsby and Chazeton Redd, but smooth transitions with handoffs could give Sikeston a shot within the top four.
"We were on the bubble last week and we're on the bubble this week," Flannigan said about their girls relay chances. "They stepped up and did what they needed to do. So, I expect them to get out of prelims on Friday so they can have a chance to get on the platform on Saturday."
Dexter's 400-meter relay team of Brooke Baker, Lindsey Hindman, Taylor Martin and Samantha Midgett also qualified for state with a fourth place mark during sectionals last week.
Applewhite, who also qualified in the 200-meter dash, will have to contend with returning all-staters Lauren Waterbury from MICDS, Ayesha Ewing, who sits atop the pole from Cardinal Ritter and Taylor Gadbois from Maryville.
All should run under 25 seconds where Applewhite ran a 25.26 last week.
"Although she doesn't like the 200, she competes well in it," Flannigan said. "She gets a little stronger towards the end and I'm hoping she has a good day and gets out in that."
The state meet will begin on Friday and continue into Saturday. Results from both days will be available in the Sunday and Tuesday editions of the Standard Democrat.