The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

March 21, 2013

Lamar returns nucleus from runner-up team

Rodney Baldridge is going to have to wait a while longer before he sees just how this year’s version of Lamar boys track and field stacks up at a varsity meet.

Lamar’s first meet of the season, which was scheduled for Thursday at Stockton, was postponed because of snow and cold weather. The meet has been rescheduled for Tuesday.

Lamar has a solid nucleus returning on a squad that last year placed second at the Class 2 state meet, one point behind Cleveland NJROTC.

Still, Baldridge hedged his bets on just how this season will play out in part because of the cold weather that has hindered the Tigers off and on since the beginning of practice.

“I hate practicing indoors,” Baldridge said. “We got out most days, we just didn’t stay outside as long. These guys have really worked hard in the cold weather. Inside or outside, we’re able to get a good workout. I just wish it was outside more often.”

Lamar’s scoring at the state meet last year was concentrated in the throwing events and the relays. Baldridge said he hopes to make up for the team’s losses to graduation in the hurdles and relays with a stronger showing in the distance running events.

Lamar won the Class 2 state cross country meet last fall for the first time. “Nicholas Ray, a freshman, will give us more depth in the distance events,” Baldridge said.

Drew Buckner, a senior, was a state qualifier in the 1600 meters, but the Tigers did not have a representative at the state meet in the 3200.

Lamar’s 4x800 relay, which placed fourth last year, returns with seniors Josh Garfield, Zachary Ray, Buckner and junior Landon Compton.

Juniors Jared Beshore and Cade Payne ran on the 4x200 and 4x100 relays, and Payne and Garfield ran on the 4x400 relay. Lamar placed third in the 4x200 and 4x400.

Baldridge said he believes his team has the depth to complete the relay teams. “Mark Bartlett, a junior, should be able to fill in pretty good, and we have other kids who ran in the relays, just not at state,” he said. “We might not be better, but I don’t think there will be a big dropoff, either.”

In the field events, Lamar returns three discus throwers who placed at the state meet — Ben Bailey, a junior who won the event with a toss of 165 feet, 2 inches; Austin Boice, a senior who was sixth, and Sam Bailey, a junior who was seventh. Boice was fifth in the shot put.

Lamar’s first goal this season will be to win the Big 8 Conference championship, something the Tigers did last year for the first time since 1993.

“Carl Junction will be pretty good,” Baldridge said. “They didn’t lose hardly anybody from last year’s team. When we set team goals, that’s our first one — conference.”

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