Wheaton's Bubba Galvan won four individual events at the Class 1 State Track Meet at Jefferson City on Saturday to put the Bulldogs in position to win the fourth place team trophy in the boys competition. Then sophomore high jumper Darrell Burns snagged an All-State medal with his sixth-place leap to vault Wheaton into second place with 43 points.
Valle Catholic won the team championship with 63.5 points. Wellington-Napoleon scored 42 for third and Princeton wound up fourth with 39.
Midway, Vienna, Liberal and St. Joseph Christian collected the team awards in the Class 1 girls division, in that order.
The Class 2 boys title went to the powerful team from Maplewood-Richmond Heights with 104 points. Principia was second with 50, followed by southwest Missouri teams Strafford and College Heights, scoring 41 and 37 respectively.
Lyndsay Vollmer won three events to lead the Penney-Hamilton girls to the Class 2 team title. Blair Oaks, Fatima and Lutheran (St. Peters) followed the Lady Hornets.
The highlight of the first day of competition was the long weather delay and ultimate postponement of the meet until Saturday morning. Only one final running event, the girls 4x800 meter relay, was contested on Friday. Following the prelims of the 100-meter dash and the high hurdles, the athletes were ushered off the track and field event venues due to threatening weather. After a tense few hours of hoping for improvement, the decision was made to adjourn for the night.
Coaches and parents of athletes who were only entered in Friday events suddenly had to make overnight plans in a city already bursting at the seams with visitors. Many of those lucky enough to find accommodations in Jefferson City were stuck with dingy smoking rooms and worse. Others went as far as Columbia, Lake of the Ozarks, Fulton and Linn just to find rooms.
Sadly, some athletes simply were unable to return for the Saturday competition, leaving empty lanes and spots in some of the events.
For the first time in memory, the two-day meet format was ditched, and a one-day schedule adopted for Saturday. Using a rolling time schedule like any ordinary invitational, the meet would resume with athletes competing in timed heats as finals instead of qualifying to a final from their preliminary heats.
The heats were totally reseeded from the sectional results to place the best eight qualifying times in the top heat. Some athletes who cruised at sectionals, content with just qualifying, suddenly found themselves mired in the slow heat with no opportunity to compete head to head against the best athletes.
The distance runners took the biggest hit from the rescheduling. Historically, the finals of the distance races have been divided between days to allow athletes reasonable recovery between their grueling events. The 4x800 meter relay and 3,200-meter run finals occur on one day, while the finals of the 800 and 1,600 meter races fall on the other.
On Saturday, the schedule included all the distance races, except for the girls 4x800 meter relay. Some boys, including state record holder Caleb Hoover, of College Heights, were entered in all four distance events. The clear advantage lay with the runners who specialized in just one or two of the longer races.
Galvan's historic day
On Saturday morning, the sun popped out and the meet was on.
Bubba Galvan, the junior from Wheaton with the Peter Frampton curls, popped a 21'10" effort on his third trip down the runway to win the long jump.
With the sun beating down in sharp contrast to Friday's conditions, Galvan lined up in lane six for the 110-meter hurdle final. He had survived a scare in the prelims when a false start was charged to Newburg's Brandon Sutton in the same heat, but then easily qualified with the fastest time.
"I don't worry too much about the start," said Galvan. "I'm just sitting in the blocks."
In the high hurdle finals, Galvan reached the barriers first and withstood a late charge by Brandon Niendick, of Wellington-Napoleon, to earn another gold medal, 15.29 to 15.34.
"I could see him out of the corner of my eye," said Galvan.
The triple jump was over quickly, as Galvan recorded the eventual winning distance of 43'9" with his first foray into the sand. Galvan's mark bested second-place jumper, Brent Bush of DeKalb, by 17 inches.
That left only the 300-meter hurdle final standing between him and perfection. Missouri high school athletes are limited to four total events in track and field competition, and few athletes win four individual events at any level, much less at the state track meet.
In that last race over the barriers, Galvan exploded to take the lead in the curve and then pulled away steadily down the homestretch, winning easily in 40.58 seconds.
Four events, four golds, 40 points.
Galvan's individual heroics were good enough to put Wheaton in position for a fourth-place team plaque. But Darrell Burns cleared the high jump at an even 6" to add three more points to the total and put Wheaton on the awards stand in second place.
Purdy senior Audrey Patton struggled to 16th in the Class 2 girls 3,200-meter race, but had no regrets.
"I had a lot of fun this season," she said. "I finally made it to state."