Smith’s double golds lead Bayard girls: Tigers’ runner-up relay adds to 4th-place team finish in Class C
     2014-05-29      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Jason Frederick/Benkelman Post - Bayard sophmore Jessi Smith eyes the timer as she crosses the finish line in the 800-meter dash at the Class C State Track Meet held last week in Omaha. Smith was a double gold medalist, having earned the crown in the 400-meter dash as well. Smith earned runner-up in the 400 at last year’s state meet. 
OMAHA – Bayard sophomore Jessi Smith set her goals high this year in track and field after she was the runner-up at the 2013 Class C State Championships in the 800-meter run.

Smith, who also placed third in the Class D state cross country meet in the fall, turned a spring full of successes into a pair of gold medals Saturday by winning both the 800 and the 400-meter dash and earning school records in both events along the way.
Smith also ran on the Tigers’ second-place 4x100-meter relay team, and Bayard finished in fourth as a team with 32 points, just two points behind runner-up Kearney Catholic’s 34. Crofton led the otherwise tight pack with 47 points to win the Class C girls’ team title.

While Smith’s individual accomplishments were impressive in themselves, Bayard coach Randy McKibbin applauded his five-girl team’s effort at state.

“The dynamics of our team is that it’s a team atmosphere,” McKibbin said. “To me, personal accolades come with team accolades. We have some athletes where there are a variety of things that they can do. I’m just really blessed to have great kids here.”

It just happened that the Tigers’ leader at state is just halfway through her high school career.

Smith, who was the district champ in both the 400 and 800, began her medal rush Saturday by winning the 800 first in a school-record time of 2:15.27. Then, after running on the Tigers’ 4x100 relay, Smith took the 400 in 58.43 seconds.

“I’ve been around Jessi since she was a kindergartener and have always had a good relationship with her,” McKibbin said. “So before the season started, I asked her what her goals were, and her main goal was to be the 800 champion.

“She really put her trust in me to get her to her main goal, so we did what we needed to do to make sure that was going to happen, and her running the 200 and 400 is kind of the way to do that. I was very thankful that she put her trust in me.

“She obviously does pretty well, but I think our team does pretty well too.”

Smith then recoiled quickly to join senior Haley Sauer, sophomore Miah Vera and junior Chellani Parriott for a second-place finish in the sprint relay in 51.37 seconds.

“The way it stands out, it was our second-best time of the year, so they ran really well,” McKibbin said.

And then Smith added the 400 gold to her collection, despite finishing .05 off her school-record qualifying time Friday of 58.38 seconds.

“At that point on Saturday, she had already run and won the 800, and then with the 400-meter relay coming up after that, she was definitely on a high,” McKibbin said. “All those events were kind of back to back, but when you’re going with two sections of each class, there was plenty of rest time in between.”

Senior Megan Stuart, who qualified for the state pole vault all four years, medaled for the third straight year after she took fifth with a high mark of 9-6 and earned Bayard’s other four team points.

Stuart was tied for fifth as a junior and tied for fourth as a sophomore, with those results also coming after she cleared 9-6. Stuart was two places away from a medal as a freshman – that coming on misses after four girls were tied for seventh at 9 feet.
“What a feather in her hat,” McKibbin said of Stuart. “I don’t know many athletes can say they were four-time state qualifiers and then even fewer who can say they were a three-time state placer.”

Besides her leg on the sprint relay, Vera qualified for three field events and came closest to placing with her ninth-place finish in the long jump. She was 12th in the triple jump and 16th in the high jump.

“Miah qualified in four events and had a fantastic season, and then obviously Jessi and her accolades, but those two are only sophomores,” McKibbin said.

“And then you have Chellani Parriott, who was a whisker away from qualifying as a freshman and then last year didn’t even to get to participate because she broke her ankle. So as a junior, she qualifies in the hurdles and she’s a part of that 4x100. To see her rehab and compete at such a high level, how cool is that for her?”

Other Class C placers from the immediate area were Bridgeport senior Jaime Gonzalez, who was fifth in the long jump at 21 feet, ¾ inch, and Bulldog teammate Travis Albertz, a junior who placed eighth in the shot put at 49 feet, ¾ inch.

Class D

While Bayard had a the runner-up finish in the Class C girls’ 4x100 relay, the Morrill girls earned fifth-place medals in the Class D sprint relay with their time of 51.73 seconds. The Lions’ quartet was senior Kylie Guerue, freshman Jessica Harvey, freshman Shalyn Lackey and senior Sabrina Austin.

In boys’ Class D competition, Banner County senior Brenton Soule earned an eighth-place medal Friday in the boys’ 3,200 run with a time of 10:25.12. On Saturday, Minatare junior Mario Sanchez scored an eighth-place finish in the 100-meter dash in 11.77 seconds.

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