By Craig Hull
Globe Sports Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Running in the 400- and 800-meter relays for the first time since the state track and field championships last year, Matt Houston didn't miss a beat.
Neither did the rest of the Joplin High School boys track team.
After earning the Ozark Conference title last week, the Eagles added a district championship on Saturday scoring 124 points to runner-up West Plains' 111 at the Class 4 District 6 meet at JFK Stadium.
The Lady Eagles, who finished fourth in the league meet last Saturday, scored 89 points to finish third behind Parkview and West Plains who tied for the championship with 137.
The district title, however, was an added bonus for the Eagles as the name of the game Saturday was sectional qualifying.
The Joplin boys placed in the top four in 11 events, winning eight titles. The Lady Eagles will compete in 10 events at next Saturday's Class 4 Sectional at Camdenton.
Austin Cartright won the 100, Jordan Bigando won the 200, Wade Souza was tops in the 1,600 and was second in the 800 and all three Joplin boys relay teams earned gold medals.
Brian Allen repeated his sweep in the shot put and discus winning both events. Andrew Lewis also advanced to sectionals placing second in the discus and fourth in the shot put.
Jeff Smith placed fourth in the 110 hurdles and Michael Fowler was fourth in the long jump.
Subbing for the injured Frank Wattelet, Houston joined Bigando, Fowler and Cartright in winning the 400 and 800 relays.
"We ran a 1:30.54 (800 relay) and that's what we were running with Frank," Cartright said. "We just told him to step up to the plate and run hard. He wasn't nervous or anything at all."
Although he won the 100 handily, Cartright was displeased with his time of 11.46 seconds.
"I was worried about a false start," Cartright said. "And I had my worst start of the year. I was the last one out of the blocks. About 50 meters, I had to start catching people."
Bigando, Fowler, Cartright and Souza won the 1,600 relay in 3:22.60.
Souza battled with West Plains' runners Chad Jolliff and Danny McBride in the 800 and 1,600 for a second consecutive week.
Jolliff won the 1,600 in 4:23.73 to Souza's 4:24.63. Souza clipped McBride in the 800 running a 1:56.70 to McBride's 1:57.90, despite running with just one shoe.
"It made for an interesting race," said Souza who lost his shoe after another runner stepped on the back of his heel 50 meters into the race.
Kelly O'Toole qualified for sectionals in three events and broke her second school record in the process. O'Toole ran a 5:22.08 1,600 for third place to break the old record of 5:26. O'Toole was fourth in the 3,200 and with Morgan Secrist, Jessi Alford and Kaiti Hoover, the Lady Eagles 3,200 relay team placed second.
The Lady Eagles won the 800 relay, were second in the 1,600 relay and third in the 400 relay.
Megan Moore qualified in the 200, placing second, and the 400 winning in 57.90. Alford qualified in the 800 running a 2:29.90 for fourth place.
Freshman Emily Jones was second in the shot put with a best toss of 35 feet, 1/2 inches.
The Neosho boys advanced to sectionals in eight events and the Lady Wildcats in three events paced by a pair of throwers.
Senior Jessica Self, a two-time sectional qualified who has signed with Missouri Southern, won both the shot put and discus. Teammate Becca Wilson finished third in the shot and fourth in the discus.
Brandi Cumming advanced in the 200, Lindsy Murray placed third in the 800 and the Lady Wildcats 800 and 1,600 relay teams both qualified for sectionals.
For the Neosho boys, Chad Kendall was second in the 100, Braden Ham was fourth in the 400, Juan Becerra was fourth in the 1,600 and Kyle Faucett won the 300 hurdles in 40.98.
The Wildcats 800 relay team finished third and the 1,600 relay overcame a dropped baton to finish fourth.
By Craig Hull