The Wright City boys sprinters were given no favors after surviving one of the fastest districts in their class two weeks ago at Lutheran North.
They were paired with the same runners — along with the fastest runners from District 4 — at the Sectional meet at Lutheran North Saturday.
The 800-meter relay team of Jack Simon, Jayden Mahaney, Cody Eck and Julian Muller-Williams finished eighth overall in 1 minute, 37.25 seconds.
It was less than a second slower than their finish the week prior, but the upswing in competition was too much to overcome.
“We had a little bit of a bad start out of the blocks, but the boys did OK,” Wright City Coach Fred Ross said. “They had a competitive time, but the teams were just faster. Those guys did such a good job with their handoffs at districts, and that’s kind of what got them into sectionals. Last week at the sectional the handoffs were just OK. But there’s a lot of pressure when it’s a one-and-done race.”
Ross said Saturday’s loss should help the runners moving forward.
“Hopefully this will make them prepare even better and work even harder next year and get that mental focus. People talk about the physical aspect of athletics, but there is a big mental aspect as well. You have to practice and practice and get everything down just right. So it will be a good learning experience for the gentlemen in that relay.”
Eck, Muller-Williams and Mahaney are expected to return to the relay team next spring.
“We’ll have three of the four legs back next year, so hopefully they’ll get faster and stronger, and we’ll get someone to step in to fill Jack’s shoes,” Ross said. “It’s just tough in our district. We probably saw the state champ and runner-up in a few races Saturday.”
Joe Phillips battled a tough field in the javelin, finishing eighth with a toss of 116 feet, 5 inches.
He would have needed to beat his personal-best (129-8) by 13 feet to qualify for state Saturday.
Centralia’s Peyton Davis won the event at 160-4.
“He didn’t throw his personal-best like he did in districts, but he’s got the school record, so he did an outstanding job this season,” Ross said.
Mahaney also competed in the 200, where he finished eighth in 23.43.
It was just off his personal- best of 23.11, which would have been good enough for a fifth-place finish.
“Playing football again is really going to help him get faster and stronger,” Ross said. “He ran some really fast times this year, and he’s been talking about getting the 100 and 200 records next year. So if he gets bigger and stronger, that’s really going to help him out. He’s pretty nonchalant until he gets on the track. When he gets on the track, he gives it his all.”