SM Northwest home meet provides tune-up for Kansas Relays
With only the Shawnee Mission District Meet remaining before the prestigious Kansas Relays, the Shawnee Mission Northwest track and field team looked to show some signs of improvement Friday when it faced off against Blue Valley Northwest and Gardner-Edgerton in a home triangular meet.
The girls placed second in the event, while the boys finished in third place.
Although the Cougars were not able to defend their home track completely, some individuals showed off skills and athleticism that will help them in the coming weeks.
SM Northwest has been battling injuries that left Luke Schnefke and Blake Evans on the sidelines, but head coach Mike Cooper still sees this as a coachable bunch.
“I haven’t had more fun than this, ever,” Cooper said. “This group is really fantastic because they’re great athletes and they’re great kids. This group is perhaps the best I’ve coached in my 30 years of coaching.”
The Cougars were highlighted by an impressive performance by Cameron Bock in the pole vault. His 14-8 vault set the school record. Both the boys and the girls team dominated the 4-x-400-meter relay, sweeping the event in both cases. The girls also picked up a win in the 4-x-100-meter relay with a time of 0:51.24, one of the fastest they’ve put together all year.
One of the athletes leading the Cougar girls this year is Crystal Osei, who won the 100-meter hurdles despite tripping after the last order. She still managed a personal best 0:15.37 seconds. She also placed second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 0:26.83 seconds.
“She’s more driven than I’ve seen her, and that’s nice because it’s starting to follow along,” girls sprints coach Justin Stigge said.
Other girls finishing at the top of the charts on Friday were Mackenzie Iverson and Sarah Hanson. Iverson strode her way to the 1,600-meter finish with a time of 5:26.33, while Hanson posted a 1:03.90 for the 400-meter run.
Like many years, the distance runners are a big part of the SM Northwest track team. The Cougars trotted several other impressive runners including freshman Jake Malik who was thrown into the 3,200-meter run at the last minute and ended up winning the event with a time of 10:50.33, 12 seconds better than his personal best.
SM Northwest was also impressive in the 1,600-meter run, sweeping the event with Connor McDonald (4:36.11), Kirk Bado (4:39.40) and Connor Kelley (4:44.50) taking the top three spots.
“We just kind of build toward cross-country during the fall and hopefully we can contribute to the track team a little bit here,” distance coach Van Rose said.
Rose said McDonald especially did some extensive winter running and it’s really showing now in the spring, which should be an example for other kids. Now, with one event until the Kansas Relays at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, the Cougars hope they can shape up in order to be competitive against some of the other impressive teams in the state.
“You always want the kids to see how the collegians behave and copy some of their things,” Rose said. “It’s a huge meet and it’s not just a bunch of Kansas people. It’s all over.”