BY MIKE URSERY
The Fayette track and field program saw significant turnover after last season. Head coach Tom Oakley led two teams into the 2018 campaign with several new faces.
Oakley said before the start of the season that he would do a lot of moving around, finding out events where people belong, and putting them in the right places before going into districts.
Fayette travled to Putnam County High School in Unionville, Missouri, for the Class 2 District 7 Championships on May 5. By the end of the day, the Falcons saw 12 of their own qualify for the Class 2 District 4 Sectional Championships.
“Our goal always is to peak at the end of the year,” Oakley said. “We had kids run personal bests today in a number of events, even kids who didn’t qualify. It was good to see. Kids came out ready to compete, and they’ve steadily gotten better throughout the last couple of weeks.”
The biggest performance of the day was from junior Chris Dunivent. He placed first in the boys shot put and set a new personal best (46-06). His distance at Putnam County replaced his previous personal best by more than four feet (42-04). That was his distance at the Knox County Invite on March 27.
Oakley said that Dunivent had a good week of practice, recieving help from both assistant coach James Bentley, as well as instruction from the track and field coaches at Central Methodist University. Oakley said that Dunivent had struggled earlier in the season, but made his best throws at Putnam County.
Junoir Emma Hoover established a new season best in both the 100 and the 200. She ran a 13.72 in the 100 finals, and followed that up with a 27.95 in the 200 finals.
In both events, Hoover’s times in the event finals were faster than what she ran in the preliminaries.
Freshman Evhya Brown set a personal best in the 200 prelims with a time of 31.78. She finished in 10th place.
Freshman Avery Whitley placed ninth in the 100 prelims (14.32). She finished one-hundredth of a second behind the eighth place finisher.
Besides qualifying in two individual events, Hoover was part of a 4×100 team that qualified for sectoinals. Hoover and Whitley, along with freshmen Alexis Oakley and Jaidyn Franz, placed fourth in the event (55.51). Hoover is the only member who was a part of last year’s team. That 4×100 team qualified for state, and set a new Lewis and Clark Conference record.
“We have a little bit more work to do,” Oakley said about his current 4×100 relay team. “The handoffs aren’t as strong as they need to be, and that’s going to be the difference in qualifying for state or not.With three freshmen, and Hoover as a junior, sometimes it takes a bit for freshmen kids to understand the work ethic needed to get to this point. I think it’s a learning experience for those three freshmen, and it’s going to be a great experience when we go to sectionals. I believe we’ll come out this week and work hard to fix some things and drop that time some more.”
Oakley qualified in one individual event – the 300-meter hurdles. She finished fourth place (53.87), and set a new personal best, to earn the right to run the event in Lathrop on May 12.
Alexis Oakley placed fifth and set a new personal best (18.36) in the 100-meter hurdles. She finished only two-tenths of a second behind the fourth place finisher.
Tom Oakley said that Alexis Oakley didn’t start running the 300-meter hurdles event until the middle of the season.
“She’s been getting better each week,” Tom Oakley said. “In every meet, she’s dropped it down, and every meet she’s gotten better with the race strategy and her hurdle technique is getting better. I’m proud of her, being her dad. It was nice to see.”
Sophomore Elijah Houston set a new personal best (11:58.86) in the 3200. He finished in fourth place to qualify for sectionals.
“I can’t say enough about Elijah,” Oakley said. “He was seeded eighth coming in. We told him he would have to drop under 12 (minutes) to make it. He went to work this week. He worked on his lap times, getting a consistent speed. That’s where he struggled.”
Oakley said he didn’t know if there would be a happier kid than Houston when the district meet ended.
“He works hard each and every day and has a positive attitude,” Oakley said. “I’m really happy that he’s gotten an opportunity to run next week.”
Senior Brennen Hudson qualified for one individual event and one team event. He qualified in the 110-meter hurdles, placing second (17.36), and was a part of a boys 4×200 relay team that qualified for Lanthrop. Hudson finished in a true tie for second place South Shelby senior Montgomry Lanpher in the hurdles event. The tie was decided by a coin toss, won by Fayette.
The boys 4×200 relay team – Brennen Hudson, junior Ross Hudson, junior Kaden Polson and sophomore Jack Kindle – placed fourth in the event (1:38.85).
Another freshmen, Breanna Estes, also earned the right to go to Lanthrop on May 12. She placed second in the girls shot put (34-06.75).
Junior Jennifer Nelson qualified in two events, the javelin and the discus. She placed fourth (97-05) in the discus, and was fourth (101-03) in the javelin.
Kindle set a new personal best in the 800. He finished the race in 2:12.40 and finished in eight place. Senior Isaac Bartholomew finished the 800 in 10th place (2:12.40), ending his season in the 800 with a personal best.
Freshman Jaidyn Franz set a new personal best in the 100-meter hurdles (19.06). She placed sixth in the event.
Senior Quinn Frerking ended her track and field career with a personal best in the girls shot put. She finished eighth while measuring a distance of 31 feet, four inches.
The Class 2 Sectional 4 Championships will be held at Lanthrop High School. The high school is located at 102 N. School St. Fayette athletes will begin running events at 10 a.m.
BY MIKE URSERY