Southwest runners advance to sectionals
4x800 team takes first at Class 2, District 6 Meet
Four Southwest runners — Travis Sickles, Christian Long, Caden Uthe and Otis Rainer — advanced through the Class 2, District 6 Track Meet in five events Saturday at Reeds Spring High School.
Sickles, a senior, finished second in the 3200-meter run and third in the mile, and he anchored the 4x800 relay team to a first-place finish. He established a new school record in the 3200 in 9:57.49.
“Nobody questions the guts of a distance runner,” said Southwest Coach Steve Voyak. “But, three races in a high-stakes meet will test anybody. He has been waiting for this day and he seized it.”
The relay team of Sickles, Uthe, Long and Rainer recorded a personal record of 8:46.97, running the sixth-best time in the state in Class 2 Saturday. Southwest ran back and forth with Blue Eye for the first three legs until Sickles gave the Trojans a 5-second victory in the anchor lap.
“A solid race and no complaints about a District championship, but not our best race,” Voyak said. “We will need to be better at sectionals to advance to the state.”
Uthe, a junior speedster who also runs distance well, finished second in the 400-meter dash in 54.08. He goes into sectionals ranked third based on district times.
Long, a junior, showed off his speed in the final 150 meters in the 800-meter run, rallying from sixth to fourth to qualify for the sectional by .05 seconds.
“Distance runners sometimes get a bad rap for being these guys and girls who are plodders who cover mile after mile, but so many of them have real speed skills,” Voyak said. “Things didn’t look good for Christian with about 200 meters left. He really worked on speed recently. His finish was just a display of his speed, but also his intelligence as a runner. He moved and pushed at the exact right time, and it was just enough.”
Southwest will compete in the Sarcoxie Sectional Meet on Saturday.