For this first time since 2010, the Ladue Track & Field team has returned to the podium, as the boys team earned a 4th Place team trophy at the 2019 Class 4 State Championships. This is the 18th trophy for the program, and came by way of some awesome performances. Here is how the day went for the Rams:
The day began with a strong showing by the 4x800m relay teams. The girls distance squad of Lena Liang, Diya Diwakaren, Callie Cox, and Ginger Schulte were competing in their first state championships. The ladies ran tough and were just a few seconds off their season best. The boys team took home a 4th place finish (Collin Clark, Nick Cunningham, Johnny Martin, Markeith Crawford). The veterans, Clark and Crawford, did their jobs as expected and bookended the relay running lead off and anchor, while Cunningham and Martin were in their first state meet. They ran with confidence and turned in some new personal record (PR) performances earning All State honors for the relay.
The girls sprint group has been making amazing progress throughout the entire season. Although only one of the three relays advanced from Sectionals to State, the group was ready to give their best shot. The 4x200m relay team of Kaeyln Tobias, Andie Stern, Emerson Barnett, and Kayliah Motes ran close to a season best in the race.
The boys sprints group dominated the relays all day long, capturing the 4x100m and 4x400m relay titles. Senior captain Dale Chesson was competing in his fourth and final track state championship meet. He narrowly missed finals of the 100m dash by .02 seconds. But, Chesson turned right around and anchored the 4x200m relay team to a 3rd place finish. Mason Player, Gideon Boaten, and Nick Waltke took the bronze running from the tough position of lane 8. Fueled by disappointment of bronze, Boaten, Chesson, and Player combined with sophomore Jahan Robinson to run away with the 4x100m relay. Placed in lane 6, Boaten’s lead off leg broke the stagger all the way up to the team in lane 8 before he handed off to Chesson who extended the lead. Robinson was in his varsity 4×1 debut, but ran cool and calm as he held the lead before passing the baton to the anchor. Player has one of the fastest open 100m times in the state (10.80), so when he got the baton on the anchor leg, it was all over. This is the first state title in the 4x100m relay in program history.
Next up was the field competitors. Newcomer, Brandon West threw a new personal best of 143’07” in the discus, earning a spot in the finals. Brandon threw a bomb that would have placed him in the top 8, but it was a foul. Fellow thrower, sophomore Avery Bespalko had a good day throwing close to her PRs in all three attempts. Pole vaulter, Samantha Fischer, was competing in her first state meet. Samantha has been setting new personal bests all season, and had some great attempts at the opening height of 10 feet. In the jumps, Nick Waltke also was consistently near some of his best career jumps, just missing out on the finals by a ¼ of an inch.
Back on the track, senior Lila Bensky was on a mission. Lila was All State as a sophomore in both the 1600m and 3200m runs, but her junior year was not as successful. With each of the 4 laps, Lila made moves, climbing her way to the lead pack. Eventually, it was time for her to take control of the race, and Lila left the rest of the competitors behind to earn her first state title. Next up was Johnny Martin in the boys 1600m run. After setting a new PR on the 4×8 relay, Johnny ran as best he could in the open race, given the intense heat and the fast pace of the race.
As the meet began to wind down with only four events left, the Rams knew the boys 800m was a critical opportunity to score some points. Senior Markeith Crawford was seeking All State honors for the second year in a row, while Collin Clark was competing in his first open race at the state meet. While Clark struggled to get back in the race after a slow start, Crawford ran strong and picked up a 6th place finish, providing three huge points towards the team standings.
For the third year in a row, Lila was racing in the 3200m run. This time she had teammate Lena Liang racing with her. Both ladies ran tough on a hot day, and Lila was able to earn another All State performance, taking 8th place in the race. Right after the ladies, freshman Andrew Smock stepped up to the challenge of his first state appearance, and ran a new PR of 10:11.19. He just missed the podium by placing 9th overall.
With one event to go, the Rams found themselves in a comfortable position. Based on the team standings, they needed a first place finish in the 4x400m relay to secure themselves a team trophy. The situation was the same for several of the other teams in the race. So, as all great track meets should, this one came down to the 4×4! Seniors Dale Chesson, Markeith Crawford, and Nick Waltke were ready to leave their legacy on the program. Not only did they win the race, they dominated it from the gun to the finish line, winning by almost 3 seconds.
State Class 4 Boys 4th Place Team Trophy
District Champions- Boys
Sectional Runner Up-Girls
District Runner Up- Girls
Lila Bensky: 1600m
4x100m relay: Gideon Boaten, Dale Chesson, Jahan Robinson, Mason Player
4x400m relay: Markeith Crawford, Collin Clark, Nick Waltke, Dale Chesson
All State Athletes:
Lila Bensky: 3200m
Markeith Crawford: 800m
4x800m relay: Collin Clark, Nick Cunningham, Johnny Martin, Markeith Crawford
4x200m relay: Mason Player, Gideon Boaten, Nick Waltke, Dale Chesson
Full List of 2019 State Qualifier:
|Lila Bensky, Lena Liang, Diya Diwakaren,
Callie Cox, Ginger Schulte, Kendall Connors
Kaeyln Tobias, Andie Stern, Emerson Barnett, Kayliah Motes, Chrissy Davis, Kiara Crawford, Nariah Moorer, Avery Bespalko, Samantha Fischer
|Collin Clark, Nick Cunningham, Johnny Martin, Markeith Crawford, Trey Fruend, Max Wasserstrom, Andrew Smock, Mason Player, Gideon Boaten, Nick Waltke, Dale Chesson, Jahan Robinson, Hugh Chan, Brandon West|