JEFFERSON CITY • Kamryn Babb hobbled away from the trainer with a bag of ice taped to his hip. A junior sprinter and jumper, Babb suffered the injury earlier that day while running the third leg of the 400-meter dash at the Lindenwood High School Invitational on March 25.
Babb never made it to the long jump that day. He didn't jump the first time this season until the district meet.
Now he's the state champion.
Babb leaped 23 feet and 4.25 inches to win the Class 5 long jump at the state championship track and field meet Friday at Dennis and Roberta Licklider Track Complex on the campus of Jefferson City High.
The 6-foot-2 and 196-pound Babb set a new record for Class 5, which is in its third year of existence. He broke the mark of 23-0.25 set last year by Pattonville's Christopher Gleghorn.
“I'm just blessed. God gave me this ability to do what I do. I try to come out here and have fun,” Babb said. “I've got one more year left in long jump. I don't know about college yet. I'm trying to have fun with it.”
Babb will have his choice of colleges. One of the top-rated football prospects in the nation in his class, his speed and athleticism were on full display Friday. Babb entered the state meet with the fourth-best sectional jump in the field. Friday was just the third time he competed in the long jump this spring.
“I had problems in my hip flexor. I did therapy and rehabbed. So I sat out a couple weeks and took my time. I had to let it heal on its own,” Babb said. “When I was ready I gradually got into it.”
Landing atop the podium was a welcome reward after back-to-back 11th place finishes in his first two state meets. Babb hopes history repeats itself in his senior season.
“That was a pretty good feeling. Went to state freshman and sophomore year and didn't go as planned,” he said. “Being a state champ is pretty special, but I'm looking to go two years in a row.”
DE SOTO'S ALLEN GRABS GOLD
Lamont Allen almost didn't believe it. A senior jumper and sprinter for the De Soto track team, Allen has been chasing gold at the state meet his whole career. A four-time qualifier in the high jump, Allen was sixth as a freshmen, fifth as a sophomore and the runner-up as a junior.
In his last go around, he finally reached the top of the podium.
Allen won the Class 4 high jump by clearing 6-10 and went unbeaten this season. After a four-year chase, the championship he craved was finally his.
“It still hasn't set in that I finally won. It's been a long time coming, four years of preparation to get gold,” Allen said. “It's been a weight on my shoulders. I always shoot to be the best at anything I do. All I could do and hope my best would get me first and today it did.”
Allen said the weather, always a wild card, was ideal for him. He was comfortable, confident and felt he had the crowd. When he clipped the bar on his final attempt at 7 feet, there was a sigh from the spectators. It meant a lot to him that so many people were rooting for him.
“This is my fourth year and the crowd has always been a big part of high jump,” Allen said. “You hear them screaming for other people and you just want to have that same feeling. The crowd is right there pushing you, too.”
SUMMIT'S EDWARDS EARNS BRAGGING RIGHTS
Bryce Edwards made his debut at the state meet Friday.
He promptly unleashed the best put of his career.
A senior at Summit, Edwards' first toss of the meet went 55-11.75. It's a personal best by nearly two feet. It was good enough to win him the state championship by one inch.
Edwards eked out the win by one inch over Grandview's Christian Turner, whose second-to-last throw put him at 55-10.75 and a runner-up finish.
The 6-foot-2 and 220-pound Edwards turned off his mind and let his body do what he trained it to do for more than four years.
“Don't worry about technique. It's all about pushing it, adrenaline,” Edwards said. “It's an experience I'll never forget.”
He wasn't the only state champion from Summit. Senior Rayvon Allen won the Class 4 long jump (24 feet, 0.25 inches).
Edwards was overjoyed he'd not only made the podium in his first trip but got to stand atop it.
“It's unreal. It's like a great weight is off your shoulders after all this work you've put in for four years,” Edwards said. “Finally, senior year coming in and giving all you've got.”
It doesn't hurt that he now has something his older brother, Cody, does not. Cody made state twice in the discus but never earned a top-eight finish and the medal that accompanies it. Bryce just might mention that from time to time.
“I kind of rub it in his face,” Bryce said with a smile. “We're supportive but at the same time I'll rub it in his face.”
Edwards will continue his athletic career at the University of Indianapolis. He'll play defensive line for the Greyhounds and put his track career aside.
But what a way to go out.
“Once I got here, I thought I could do this,” Edwards said. “I realized this was as far as I could go, I reached my goal. Then it was just to compete. Do it as best you can and the cards will lay where they need to.”
GODDARD'S CAREER ENDS WITH SILVER
One of the best all-around athletes to grace the halls of Kirkwood has thrown for the final time.
Senior Reece Goddard capped his outstanding high school athletic career with a runner-up finish in the Class 5 shot put.
Goddard's best put of the day was a personal best 58-9.25. St. Joseph Central's Jordan Garr won with a new class record of 61-4.
After Garr's record-breaking toss Goddard took a small amount of solace in the result. His 58-9.25 was a personal best by two inches.
“I'm happy how I did,” Goddard said. “Obviously I'd have liked to win but even my two big fouls wouldn't have beat 61-4. That was a huge throw. I'm content with what I did.”
The starting quarterback on the Class 6 state championship team in the fall, Goddard competed in the discus and shot put all four years at Kirkwood. Both events are often filled with hulking kids that play offensive or defensive line for their football teams. Third-place finisher and Hazelwood Central senior Ed Becton is 6-4 and 240 pounds. He'll play offensive line at Missouri State in the fall.
Goddard never felt out of place as the signal caller surrounded by lineman.
“I'm used to being around those guys,” he said with a smile.
Goddard has never walked out of the state meet satisfied. As a freshman he missed the state meet by finishing fifth in his district in the shot put. Sophomore year he was sixth. Last year he was the runner up.
The discus was more cruel. As a freshman he was 10th, sophomore year he was third and last year he was the runner up. This year he didn't make it out of districts after he fouled all three of his attempts which were close to 180 feet, enough to make him a contender at state had he advanced.
The discus and shot put won't have him to kick around any more. Goddard signed to play quarterback at Western Michigan. He's said time and effort required to try and excel as a quarterback and thrower is simply too much. After nine years, he'll hang up his track spikes.
“I was laying in bed last night at the hotel thinking this is the last time I'll throw,” Goddard said. “I'm definitely ready for the next chapter and college football, but I've definitely had a great time with track. It ended well.”
HILLSBORO'S MARTIN CAPS BUSY DAY, WINS JAVELIN
A year ago Isaiah Martin could never have imagined he'd be the state champion in the javelin.
Maybe the hurdles. Maybe the long jump
The javelin? Until last summer he'd never thrown one before in his life.
No one threw it better than Martin on Friday.
The junior hurdler, jumper and thrower for the Hillsboro track and field team wrapped up a nutty day with a gold medal draped around his neck.
Martin threw the javelin 161-9 feet, 9 inches to win the Class 4 title. Webb City's Briar Short was the runner-up at 160-8.
That the 6-foot-4 and 185-pound Martin had any energy left to compete in the event was impressive. Martin qualified for the finals in the 110-meter hurdles (14.76 seconds) with the third-best time. He had the top time in the 300 hurdles (38.37).
Somehow he managed to find enough time to compete in the long jump. He finished in 13th place with his best jump of 21-0.5.
“It was hectic. I checked in for long jump, got my steps and ran back for my 300 race,” Martin said. “I ran back over and the long jumpers let me butt in line and let me jump my preliminary jumps then I went and threw javelin.”
Martin admitted it was hard to keep his mind in the moment with so much going on. It affected him somewhat during his javelin but found it in himself to quiet his mind.
“I was a little out of focus,” Martin said. “It happened in javelin, too, but I handled it the best I could.”
Martin has his sights set on adding more gold to his collection. He'll have some stiff competition in the hurdles but at least he'll only have two events instead of four.
“I just have a lot of fun. I'm really focused on tomorrow,” he said. “I really want to double up.”