Warrenton relay team competes at state

BATTLE AT STATE — Members of the Warrenton girls 4x800 relay team pose prior to competing at state Friday. Pictured, from left, are Veronika Besser, Madelyn Marschel, Loren Howard and Briana Grooms. Submitted photo.
Jeff Stahlhut

After not even running together as a team in the 4x800 relay until April 30 at the Warrenton Invitational, the Warrenton High School foursome of Veronika Besser, Loren Howard, Briana Grooms and Madelyn Marschel peaked at the perfect time this spring.

The relay team qualified for and competed in the Class state meet Friday held in Jefferson City.

The squad placed 15th in 10 minutes, 47.47 seconds. Nerinx Hall won the state title in 9:34.03, followed by runner-up Farmington in 9:41.13.

The week before, the Warrenton relay team set a personal best time of 10:32.28 and placed third at the sectional meet. Only the top four finishers qualified for state.

Coach Steve Wurtzel told The Record that the team finished right about where he expected based on qualifying times. 

“Going in, the biggest thing and approach was to talk about racing, talk about competing, about chasing other teams down, and being able to hold their own. We also focussed a lot on handoffs, that was a lot of what we spent sectional week working on,” he said. “They ended up exactly where I thought they would end up. We had a good realistic picture of where they were going to be.”

Individually, each member of the relay performed at or above expectations. 

“Maddie and Veronika have been consistent all year long. Loren and Briana worked hard to get their times to drop, and they did that,” said Wurtzel. “They maintained their place in the seedings and ran their best, enjoyed the experience, and knew coming in that this opportunity may not be there every year but they know this is what they want to work for. As a team, they didn’t quit.”

With the season now in the rearview mirror, Wurtzel was quick to acknowledge the contributions of graduating senior Grace Bostic. 

“Grace was a six-year athlete in our track and field program — from seventh grade to her senior year — and anytime you lose an athlete like that we lose a good, solid rock,” he said. “Grace was the third of three solid hurdlers (including Courtney Richardson and Allison Tonioli) we have seen over the years and while each of them had their strengths, when it came down to district and sectional competition in the 100 hurdles, Grace had the best times of the three in the 100 dash. 

“Grace learned well from her mentor athletes and it showed most as she closed out her senior year. Her last race didn’t go as she planned (with a trip to the state meet), but her last race was a solid one that she should be proud of.”


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