After a year away from the track due to COVID, five members of the Salem High School track squad have reached their goal of making it to the Missouri Class 3 Track and Field Championships.
The five Tigers who advanced to the Missouri Class 3 State Championships through the Section 3 Meet Saturday, May 22 at Camdenton are junior Nathan Pyle in the discus, senior John Myslinski in the 800-meter run and senior Caden Camden in the pole vault for the boys and senior Ashton Mink in the shot put and junior Savannah Manthey in the javelin for the girls.
The top four finishers in each event moved on from sectionals to the state championships.
At sectionals, Pyle placed second in the discus with a throw of 140-6. Myslinski placed third in the 800-meter run at 2:04.62. Camden was fourth in the pole vault at 12-5 ½. Mink was second in the girls’ shot put at 37-10 ½ while Manthey was third in the javelin at 110-5.
The Class 3 State Championships are Saturday, May 29 at Adkins Stadium on the campus of Jefferson City High School.
Due to continuing COVID precautions, each of the five track classes this year compete in the state championships on a different date at Adkins Stadium.
And with each class state meet being on a single day, no preliminary races will be held in running events; just finals only. And in the field event throwing and horizontal jumping events, each participant will get just four attempts total – or no prelims followed by finals. In the high jump and pole vault, participants will get a total of three jumps.
The state championships are to begin at 10 a.m. each day, starting with the boys’ and girls’ 3,200-meter run. Field events are to begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday Camden is to compete in the pole vault at 11 a.m.; Pyle in the discus and Manthey in the javelin at 1 p.m.; Mink in the shot put at 3 p.m., and Myslinski in the 800-meter run at 4:50 p.m.
There will be limited admission for fans. Admission for students (age 6-up) and adults is $9 per day. All tickets will be digital.
Camden will be attempting to earn his second all-state placement in the pole vault; he finished seventh in the event as a sophomore.
He has used his entire senior season to knock off the rust from last year’s inactivity in the event.
“You could definitely tell I hadn’t vaulted since my sophomore year,” said Camden, also a two-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Tiger football team in the fall. “It took a while to get back in the groove. In some areas yes, I’m pleased where I’m at. In others, there is lots of room for improvement.”
Camden set his PR in the pole vault as a sophomore at 12-9. His best vault this year has been his last two meets, in the district and sectionals. So he seems to be peaking at the proper time.
“My speed into the box has been good,” he said. “I need to get inverted better.”
Camden feels his previous state success will play a role Saturday.
“It will help a ton,” he said. “I’ve been there before. I know what to expect and there will be less pressure.”
Tiger head coach Derek Freeman agrees.
“Caden will be competing at the state track meet two years in a row,” Freeman said. “He is clutch. When he has great competition, Caden levels up.”
Myslinski ends his Salem athletic career on a high note, advancing to the state meet in both of his sports – cross country and track. Myslinski will continue his athletic career in both sports at the college level, as he will compete up Highway 72 at Missouri S&T in Rolla.
“I thought the 800 was my best chance (over the 1,600-meter run) to make it to state,” Myslinski said. “Missing out (on a season) as a junior sucked. But running, you don’t really get rusty.
“I think (cross country experience) helped a little in track. Some people take too much cross country into the 800, in that they use the same pace. I run a different pace but like to take the same mindset.”
Myslinski thinks he has made strides in the race as the season has progressed.
“Just the combination of endurance and speed (has improved),” he said. “Just going into it, I kick in everything I’ve got. I’ll be very happy with a top-eight (all-state) finish. And hopefully I can break 2:02.”
“John will be representing Salem at the state level for the second time this (school) year,” Freeman said. “This kid emits nothing but excitement and passion for track.”
Pyle was hoping to be a two-event state qualifier, making it to sectionals in both the discus and shot put. He was the shot put district champion with a 47-1 throw. However, while placing second in the discus at sectionals, Pyle scratched on all of his shot put attempts.
“In the shot I was right there,” said Pyle, who also got to sectionals in discus as a freshman. “But at sectionals I scratched all my throws.”
He set is PR in the discus at the district meet at 143-0 ½.
“My technique and speed are working,” he said of the discus. “The only problem I’m having now is keeping my arm up and elevating my disc. I know I did my best and it got me to state.”
Pyle now hopes to be a two-event state qualifier as a senior. And for this weekend he’s hoping to get to the discus podium.
“This year I want to try to get all-state,” he said. “I’m seeded third going in. I’ll go have fun and try to do my best.”
“Nathan Pyle has shown innate talent from the first time he picked up a throwing implement,” Freeman said. “With a calm approach to his event, Nathan’s talent will take care of his performance.”
After throwing since her freshman year, Mink finally gets her first shot at state.
Like Pyle, Mink was hopeful of a dual state-event qualification.
“I scratched all four of my discus throws at district,” Mink said. “I’ve been pretty consistent at shot. I knew at sectionals I had to get it together; I was seeded third. And I ended up finishing second. I feel like I’m where I need to be. There are a couple things I want to work out in practice this week. I should be okay.”
Going into the state meet Mink is seeded No. 5 in the shot put field. Mink set her PR at sectionals, so she is in a good position going in.
She said she put more emphasis into track her senior season.
“With (the 2020) quarantine I didn’t have the opportunity to throw,” Mink said. “I’ve always focused on other sports. This year I really buckled down in track. I would love to throw in college. I’ve had no offers now; if I do well in state, we will make some phone calls.”
Mink hopes to earn all-state honors – for herself as well as her coaches.
“I would love to walk away on the podium and with a PR,” she said. “But knowing all the hard work the coaches have put into me paid off, that’s what will make me happy.”
“Ashton has experienced nothing but growth this year,” Freeman said. “She’s a strong and determined athlete, got a taste of her full potential at the sectional meet, and she’s hungry for more.”
“I’m excited,” Mink said.
Javelin was a new event for Manthey this spring, and it has proven to be a very good one for her.
“I just figured I needed to try it,” said Manthey, who set her PR of 113 during a home meet earlier this season. “I knew it was a good event for me after the second meet I threw. Since I also play softball, I figured it’d be (similar).
“I’m comfortable now; after a couple of meets I was comfortable. After I changed my approach I had to figure it out. I changed from a five-step to a running approach.”
She is hoping that this weekend is the first of a couple of chances at all-state.
“I’m just happy I’m going,” Manthey said. “And it would be nice to be on the podium.”
Freeman doesn’t put it past her despite her inexperience.
“Savannah specializes in field events,” Freeman said. “She’s sort of a utility athlete who can pick up any event and immediately be good at it. I look forward to watching her compete at the state meet.”