The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


May 22, 2012

Lamar track finishes one point from state title

With one event remaining in the boys Class 2 state track and field championships last Saturday, Lamar head coach Rodney Baldridge knew exactly where his Tigers stood.

Lamar had not won a state plaque, symbolic of a place among the top four teams, since 1983. The plaque the Tigers would receive depended on the outcome of the 4x400-meter relay.

The team of sophomore Cade Payne, junior Josh Garfield and seniors Nick Jeffries and Nolan Jeffries had placed sixth in the prelims the day before.

“We knew we had to get second or better and we came up about a yard short,” Baldridge said. “They showed their heart and were just about a yard short. It was exciting to watch.”

Lamar finished third in the event, a half-second behind first-place Brookfield and a tenth of a second behind second-place Trenton. The result left the Tigers one point away from tying Cleveland NJROTC for the state championship.

Instead, the Tigers’ state plaque was for second place, alongside Lamar’s state championship plaque in football last fall.

“I know in time they’ll understand their accomplishment,” Baldridge said, “but they weren’t happy with finishing second. They wanted first.

“We had 11 individuals score points. Cleveland, the winner, had four,” he said. “They had two really good athletes, but we were a team built around a lot of different parts.”

Lamar’s effort at Dwight T. Reed Stadium in Jefferson City began with a fourth-place finish by the 4x800 relay team of juniors Josh Garfield, Zachary Ray and Drew Buckner and sophomore Landon Compton.

The Tigers scored their first points in the field events when junior Austin Boice placed fifth in the shot put. On Saturday, the Tigers tacked on a first-place throw by sophomore Ben Bailey in the discus. Boice was sixth and Sam Bailey was seventh.

Ben Bailey’s throw of 165 feet, 2 inches was seven inches short of the school record of 165-9 that he set at the Jock’s Nitch/PSU Relays.

“165-2 at this time of year is incredible,” Baldridge said. “I’m very fortunate to have three great discus throwers. They’re great football players and students, too.”

Senior Nick Jeffries, who received the Tiger Award from his teammates at Lamar’s spring awards banquet Monday night, won four state medals.

He placed second in the 300 hurdles and broke his own school record with a time of 39.41 seconds. He was third in the 100 hurdles and ran on the third-place 4x200 and 4x400 relays.

The 4x200 relay of sophomore Jared Beshore, Payne, Nolan Jeffries and Nick Jeffries broke the school record in the prelims with a time of 1:31.27.

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