BY MIKE URSERY
The Fayette Falcons and Lady Falcons hosted the 2017 Fayette Relays on a chilly afternoon and evening on March 31 at Central Methodist University.
Winter ended over a week ago, but the cold air still set in around Fayette, with temperatures in the mid-40s when the meet started, and gradually dropped as day turned into night.
Spectators and athletes alike were bundled up in blankets and heavy coats, trying to stay warm and the day went on.
When athletes competed in their respective events, however, they were in running shorts. Some opted to wear pants and long sleeves.
“That’s one thing we preach to the kids, that they have to come out and compete in all conditions,” Fayette head coach Tom Oakley said. “All of the athletes are running in the same conditions. So, we don’t use cold weather as an excuse. I thought the kids came out really well and ran well.”
Oakley said the Falcons and Lady Falcons had better times on March 31 than they have had early in the season over a number of years.
The girls 4×100 relay – seniors Jada Gaines, Natalie Bishop, Abbie Jefferies and sophomore Emma Hoover – finished first at 53.09, beating their time at the Marshall Open (53.66) by more than half of a second.
The finish in that event was nowhere near close. Gaines was the fourth runner in the relay, and crossed the finish line ahead of Salisbury junior Sidney Marek (54.68) by almost two seconds.
The 2016 Fayette Relays featured 19 schools. The bar was raised this year with 20 schools attending the meet at Central Methodist University.
“Just seeing great competition early in the season is the big thing,” Oakley said. “We can come here and run in practice and think we might be doing pretty good, but you don’t know until you get out and face some good competition. It’s kind of fun to get out early in the season and see a bunch of teams.”
Oakley said he thought his athletes did a good job of competing against some of the bigger schools who attended the Fayette Relays, like Fulton and Southern Boone.
Fayette senior Ryan Linhart turned in a pair of first place finishes in both hurdles races. He finished the 110-meter hurdles (17.541) with a narrowest of margins against Cairo sophomore Tanner Adams. In the 300-meter hurdles, he finished at 43.97, nearly two seconds ahead of the second place finisher.
“He’s running times that we didn’t see last year until the end of the season at sectionals,” Oakley said. “He’s in a good place right now.”
Jefferies finished fourth (18.67) in the girls 100-meter hurdles. She followed that up with a seventh place finish (54.25) in the 300-meter hurdles.
Senior Dakota Willoughby became the first athlete to throw a javelin at the Fayette Relays. The javelin throw was added this season.
“When (Oakley) first told us we were doing javelin, I was excited because I’ve wanted to do javelin ever since I was a freshman,” Willoughby said. “I think it’s great that we get to do this. Hopefully, I can actually go somewhere with it.”
Willoughby finished in tenth place (89-08) in the javelin throw event.
Glasgow’s Jackson Haskamp (95-04) finished in ninth place.
The New Franklin girls 4×100 relay team – Madison Maupin, Shelby Breshears, Madison Matney and Lauren Evans – made a third place finish (56.49).
Matney finished in second (34-00) in the shot put event.
“It was great to finally get on the track and start competing,” New Franklin head coach Adam Quest said. “I think the kids were all really excited to get our competitive season started. Being our first meet of the year, it’s always hard to know what to expect. And starting off the year at Fayette, we really did have some tough competition right off the bat. In the end, I was extremely happy with how we performed. There was a lot that I can get excited about. We ended up bringing home two medals, and several more earned points for the team. Our highest finisher was Madison Matney in the shot put. She had an outstanding first throw of 34 feet, and then had to wait to see if anyone could pass her. She ended up finishing in a very strong 2nd place. Our other medal was in the girls 4x100m relay. Coming up the home stretch, our anchor, Shelby Breshears, was in about 5th place. She flew past the girl in 4th place pretty quickly, and then made up at least 10 meters at the end of the race to secure 3rd place at the line. It definitely was our most exciting race of the night. Unfortunately, our boys were not able to come away with any medals. But there was still a couple of wonderful performances. Tyler Hackman ended up finishing in 10th place in the 200m, but his time of 25.45 was a new personal best. Trevor Sanders finished in 10th place in the high jump. His mark of 5-6 tied his personal best. Being the first meet of the year, it’s a really good sign that those two boys were able to set new personal bests.”
Glasgow senior Hayden Hackman finished in third (120-06) in the boys discus event.
Senior Tommy Phillips (12.19) set a new personal record in the 100-meter dash. He finished sixth in the event.
The Glasgow boys 4×400 relay team – Trace Thompson, De’shonne Cowans, Tyler Reeves and Hayden Hackman – finished in second place at 3:46.49.
The Fayette girls team finished in fourth place overall with 58 points. The Fayette boys were seventh with 47 points, just three points behind Glasgow (50).
The Glasgow girls team registered 54 points, good enough for sixth place.
The girls team from New Franklin finished in 10th place (21).
Fayette was scheduled to attend a meet at Hallsville on April 4. That meet was canceled. Fayette will go to Harrisburg on April 7.