A year ago the RBHS girls track and field team defeated Jefferson City to win the Class 4 District 5 Track and Field championship, while the Bruin boys were edged by the Jays and were forced to settle for 2nd place.
Yesterday the roles were reversed as the guys, bolstered by a dominating 1-4 finish in the 3200m run, made up a 22 point deficit with two events to go to recapture the district title from JCHS while the girls were handed a 9 point defeat at the hands of the Lady Jays.
It was an impressive showing by both Bruin squads as many athletes placed in the top four of their events to qualify for the sectional championships next week in Eldon.
RBHS got off to a quick start on the guys side as the 4×800 meter relay team of Josh Ripley, Lucas Harrington, Jacob Kovarik and Connor Crabtree coasted to a 1st place finish with a time of 8:09. The 4×200 meter relay team of Brendan McLaughlin, Luke Darrough, Clayton Baumgartner and Danny Lantz followed suit by edging out Battle for the win. Zach Cook and Evan Schulte placed 1st and 2nd respectively in the 1600m run while Ripley finished 2nd in the 800m run.
Then came the 3200m run, where, in one fell swoop, Crabtree, Cook, Luke Walters and Schulte accumulated a whopping 29 points by finishing 1-4 in that order to overcome a sizeable Jefferson City lead.
“It’s hard to describe that moment, crossing the line,” Crabtree said. “We put in so much work on a daily basis so it’s great to see it pay off. It’s a testament to the program Coach (Neal) Blackburn has built here, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
A solid 2nd place finish by the 4×400 meter relay team of McLaughlin, Lantz, Baumgartner, and Darrough, in addition to the field event points racked up by Baumgartner’s fourth place finish in the long jump and Darrough’s victory in the pole vault, kept the Bruins in the lead and propelled them to a 12 point victory over the Jays.
The Lady Bruins also got off to a fast start in the 4×800 meter relay as the team of Margie Crosby, Becca Rubinstein, Emily Harl and Marilise Stamps cruised to a seven second win. Other top four finishers on the girls side were Kayla Funkenbusch and Sam Farmer who finished 1-2 in both the 1600m run and 3200m run and Ana Ramirez and Faramola Shonekan who went 1-2 in the 400m dash.
“It felt pretty good taking both those races,” Funkenbusch said. “I’m just trying to keep a good mindset and take every race one at a time until I get to state because that’s the race that matters.”
Elexis Ferguson-Cooper added a 3rd place finish in the 800m run while Ojurere Shonekan was 4th in the 200m dash. The 4x400m relay team of Ramirez, Faramola Shonekan, Ferguson-Cooper and Crosby captured a big win and equaled the school record in the process. In the field Maddie Wipfler placed 3rd in the triple jump, Mubinah Khaleel won the shot put while teammate Audrey Holt won the Discus with Khaleel grabbing fourth. However the 4x200m relay team of Ramirez, Faramola Shonekan, Ferguson-Cooper and Ojurere Shonekan, which was seeded first, finished a disappointing seventh after a handoff gaffe. That, along with a host of other factors, loomed large in the final standings as Jeff City came away with a mere nine point victory over the Bruins.
“Losing isn’t so much bittersweet as it just really pisses me off,” Funkenbusch said. “Only losing by nine points is a tough pill to swallow. It’s definitely frustrating but we still had some amazing performances and i’m proud of how my teammates competed.”
By Josh Ripley