ST. PETERS • The finish of the GAC South Division track and field championships Friday at Francis Howell North came with one surprise and one expected result.
The surprise of the meet was the team victory by the Fort Zumwalt West boys, while Francis Howell accomplished the expected in winning the team’s third straight conference title.
Zumwalt West made a late charge that began with a 1-2 finish by Steve Heim and Seth Perres in the 3200-meter race and ended with the 400-relay team winning the final event of the meet.
“This feels nice because we’ve been trying to get this title for five years,” West anchor runner Jason Matthews said. “It finally came to us because we just kept practicing so hard. It came down to the last relay because we knew if we didn’t win it, we might not win conference. We put it up on our shoulders, and we got it.”
Zumwalt West’s relay team of Matthews, Eric Rogers, Tyler Percy and Dominic Fanara won the race in 3:26.38, which was ahead of Timberland’s 3:27.41.
As a team, Zumwalt West’s boys amassed 158 points, which outdistanced Timberland’s 148.5 points. The rest of the team scores on the boys side were: Holt in third with 147 points; Howell Central, 103; Howell North, 70.5; Troy 56; and Francis Howell, 6.
Other winners for Zumwalt West included the 3,200-relay team of Heim, Matthews, Connor Bradford and Ryan Howe (8:26.11), T.J. Fine in the 100-yard dash (11.37 seconds) and Tyler Diederich in the 400 (50.90).
“It was nice to get out here and win a race,” Fine said. “I just wanted to go all out. I feel like I ran pretty well. I didn’t get a chance to see my time yet, but I felt I ran pretty well.”
Timberland’s Josh McDonald had arguably the best individual performance on the boys side at the GAC South meet.
He won both the discus (167 feet, 10 inches) and the shot put (54-9.5).
“I was happier with the shot than I was the discus,” McDonald said. “That’s a PR (personal record) for me. I feel good. I feel really confident in the way I’m throwing.”
On the girls side, Howell won its third straight conference title by easily outdistancing Zumwalt West.
Howell won 12 events on its way to cruising to cruising to 215 points, which was well ahead of Zumwalt West’s 117 points.
“Winning conference is important,” Howell distance runner Valeska Halamicek said. “We had a pretty good lead, so I think we will win it. That’s good.”
The rest of the girls varsity team scores were: Troy in third with 87.5 points; Holt, 86.5; Howell North, 77; Timberland, 58; and Howell Central, 45.
A pair of noteworthy performances Friday came from the duo of Howell’s Whitney Adams and Holt’s Nataliyah Friar.
Adams won the 100 (12.30 seconds), the 200 (24.72 seconds) and the 400 (56.65 seconds).
She outdueled Friar in the 100 and 200.
“Today wasn’t an easy day,” Adams said. “(Friar) and I, we’ve been going at it since all of last year. Last year, she beat me, and every time she’d beat me, I told her I was coming after her.”
Friar still had a nice day for herself, though. She won the long jump (17-5), and the triple jump (39-9).
“The triple jump is an event I am focusing really hard on,” Friar said. “I am getting 39 consistently, and I am trying to (better) my PR of 40-05.”
The only other multiple-event winner at the meet was Halamicek in the 800 (2:22.64) and the 1,600 (5:08.63).
“I felt better about the mile,” Halamicek said. “I had some really good competition there, and I tend to feel better when I’m running with someone.”