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Liberator track athletes make their mark at SBU meet


The Liberator boys and girls track teams competed in the SBU High School Class 4-5 Invite at Plaster Football Stadium on Monday, April 24.

Track coaches Daniel Bayless and Vicki McDonald agree that the boys and girls teams are shaping up to prove successful this season.

“We are a rather small class 4 school and the SBU Meet is a Class 4 and 5 combined meet. We consider this a BIG TIME meet for us, giving us a view at how we might fair later in the season at the State Championships,” says Coach McDonald. “This meet also comes as we are transitioning from our building phase to our peaking phase of the season. I am happy to report that the Bolivar girls had a good showing and a lot of learning was done by our new/first-time track athletes.”

Additionally, Coach Bayless says that the boys team has improved in almost all of their events, noting that he is very proud of their accomplishments so far.

“We like to refer to ourselves as a big track and field family and like any proud papa, I love bragging on my kids,” Bayless says.

Boys Track

The three Bolivar athletes who received a medal at the event were Gavin Crawford, Evan Hendrickson, and Jason Wilkinson.

Senior Gavin Crawford won third in the 800m run in 1:58:92.

“This young man is a captain on our team, and I have enjoyed watching him grow over the years. He has already signed to run in college next year, and I have no doubt he will do well,” said Coach Bayless. He started the meet leading the 4x800 team to a personal record for the year and then turned around and ran a great 800m against stiff competition to medal. He even ended the meet as the anchor leg of the 4x400. He runs smooth with a smile all the time. He puts a smile on my face just talking about him.”

Additionally, senior Evan Hendrickson got fourth in the pole vault (13-01.50).

“This guy has worked hard in the offseason and focused on the pole vault. He actually broke his foot right before track season started at an indoor vaulting competition. He is just starting to bounce back from that injury,” Bayless explains. “I can't wait to see how he ends the season. He, also, has signed to compete next year in college Track and Field as a pole vaulter.”

Lastly, junior Jason Wilkinson received third place in the triple jump (41-04.50). He also made the tenth spot in the high jump event (5-08.75).

“This fella is a lot of fun. He is just a tall stick of natural talent,” Coach Bayless says. “This is his first year on our team, and he not only runs on the 4x100 and 4x200, but he is learning to High Jump and Triple Jump as well. That is a lot of stuff for him to learn at once. Honestly, he still has a lot to learn. That is what is exciting, because we just don't even know what he is capable of yet, but it sure is fun finding out!”

As a team, Bolivar also got fifth place out of the 16 schools that competed in the 4x800m relays in 8:27.57.

“These guys are one of the most enjoyable groups of young men I have had in a long time. They work hard to get better everyday. They competed very hard on Monday at SBU. Overall, for the most part, I felt like the guys were a little flat, but that is not something to worry about. We train for them to peak in the postseason, and we are not there yet,” Coach Bayless says. “All in all, I am just very pleased with our kids,” he said.

Girls Track

The girls track and field meet brought good fortune for several seniors on the team. Dailynn VanDeren brought home gold medals for both shot put and discus. While these were both great wins for the day, Coach McDonald says VanDeren is still working on improving her distance.

Senior Sidney Batten also made good strides at the meet. She gave her best jumps so far in the season and earned 5th place in the long jump and 8th in the triple jump.

The team also received 2nd place out of 14 schools in the 4x800m relay. Those who competed in the 4x800m relay were Julia Jump, Ayden Spotila, Emma Howes, and Ellaina Porter. The group were placed as a close second to the Kickapoo Lady Chiefs. According to McDonald, both teams broke the 10-minute time for the first time all season, a triumph that she says “many girls in the 4x800m relay teams never get close to breaking.”

Other top rankings of the day include the following:

  • Sydney Waters, 4th place, 2000m run
  • Emma Howes, 5th place, 1600m dash
  • Julia Jump, 5th place, 3200m run
  • Ayden Spotila, 7th place, 800m dash
  • Harper Rowell, 7th, 2000m run

“We had a ton of season's best times on the day and several girls just out of the top 8, finishing 9th-14th in many events,” McDonald shares. “Our girls are fun to watch compete. I am often talking to them about the ‘grrr’ they take into competitions as well as into practice. It is a trait that is necessary to be successful in our sport and ultimately in life. It is also a trait that is hard to develop if it is not naturally there. These girls have it! This is a fun group of athletes to coach, and I am excited to see where the season is still leading them to go."