By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Ozark won the boys’ division and Branson captured the girls’ championship Friday as the Joplin Invitational track and field meet returned to Junge Field.
Joplin’s girls scored 155 points and placed third, 12 points behind second-place Carl Junction. Joplin’s boys were fourth and trailed second-place Branson and third-place Carl Junction.
“It’s going well. A lot of our kids are doing well,” said Joplin head coach Kasey Pliler. “For us to have this many teams the first time, I feel good. It allows us to make sure we’re doing things right.”
Joplin’s girls were paced by freshman sprinter Marley Robeson, who won the 100 meters and placed second in the 200, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
Hope Joyner of Carl Junction won the 100 hurdles in 16.03 seconds, and Brittney Rose of Carl Junction won the 300 hurdles in 49.03. Samantha Willis of Miami won the 200 in 27.97.
“I got a lot of PRs (personal records) and the wind was against us everywhere,” Robeson said. “I want the school record for the 300 hurdles so bad.”
So far, the school record of 47.6 seconds, set in 1996, is still safe.
Sydney Koch of Carl Junction won the 400 and the long jump, Alyssa Hammons of Miami won the high jump and triple jump and placed second in the 400. Carl Junction won the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
JeLynn Tatum of Carl Junction won the 3200 and placed second in the 1600.
In the boys’ division, Joplin’s Matt Reichman-Bennett prepared for the upcoming conference and district meets by competing in the 4x800 relay, followed by the 1600, the 3200 and the 4x400 relay.
“He ran a 2:04 split in the 4x800, which is a PR for him,” said Joplin assistant coach Jason Riddle. “We ran him in four events today, trying to get him ready for a peak. We did it on purpose because of the guys we’re going to see in our district.”
Despite the overload, Reichman-Bennett was third in the 1600 and won the 3200 in 9 minutes, 59.2 seconds. Minutes later, in the third leg of the 4x400 relay, he stayed two steps behind Carl Junction’s Nick Kennedy with a split time of 54 seconds.
“That hurt really bad,” said Reichman-Bennett. “I’ll be all right, but that was rough. I’ve never ran a 400 before in a meet. It was different from what I expected.”
Joplin assistant coach Dustin Dixon explained Reichman-Bennett’s condition. “He has run more miles this week than he has run all year,” Dixon said. “His legs are just dead.”
Ryan Beaver of College Heights lurked behind Reichman-Bennett most of the way and won the 1600 in 4:37.
“My plan was to just stick with whoever was in first until the third lap after I passed the wind,” Beaver said. “I was going to try to use him as a wind block. I passed him, but he came back. I got him the second time. I have a pretty good kick.”
Beaver came back and ran the 800 in 2:05, four seconds off his best time of the spring.
Carl Junction’s Nick Thompson, who has signed to play football this fall at Missouri Southern, won the 100 meters in 11.16 seconds and ran on the winning 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
“We’ve been practicing our handoffs and a couple of people have stepped up,” Thompson said. “We have a lot of competitive people at practice. It’s making all of us better.”