Hasani Barr put his disappointment aside and got to work.
A senior sprinter for the Cardinal Ritter boys track and field team, Barr had big plans for the end of his high school career. He wanted to chase down his first state championship, make a run at the state's all-time 1,600-meter relay record and help the Lions defend their Class 3 team championship.
Little of that plan came to fruition. When a tornado touched down in Jefferson City two days before the state championship track meet was scheduled to be held at Jefferson City High, it threw a significant wrench into the Lions' lineup. The Class 3, 4 and 5 state championships were split across three venues and held on Saturday, May 26 with a one-day schedule instead of the regular two-day schedule.
Senior standout Jameson Williams was nursing a balky hamstring and when presented with a new schedule and the potential for preliminary races and finals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, plus his work on the relays, it proved to be too much for Ritter coach Brandon Gregory. An Ohio State football recruit, Williams was set to report to campus this week to begin offseason work. Gregory wasn't comfortable asking Williams to push himself at the truncated state meet.
“He's got a career ahead of him,” Gregory said. “His career and future are bigger than me. He did all he can do. It was time for some of the other guys to step up.”
Barr did what he could. A Baylor track signee, Barr did not compete at all his junior year as he recovered from injury. As a sophomore, he made it to state only to be injured at the meet and less than his best. As a freshman, while at Ladue, he took third in the 400. Even without Williams in the fold, Barr had been on this mission for the better part of four years.
He finally achieved his goal of a state championship when he won the Class 3 400-meter race in 48.55 seconds. His teammate Lee Steward was the runner up in 49.75.
“It felt great,” Barr said. “This is what I've been trying to do since I got into high school. It was a matter of staying healthy long enough to be able to do it.”
Ritter sent a shock through the state when its 1,600 relay team won at Kirkwood's Dale Collier Invitational in an eye-popping 3 minutes and 13.15 seconds. It was the second fastest 1,600 relay in the nation at the time and the fastest on record in Missouri history.
At the time, the Lions said they were gunning for something even faster at the state meet. When Williams was shut down it took an arrow out of their quiver. But Barr teamed with Steward, Jaden Williams and Montrel Richards to finish in 3:16 to break the Class 3 record of 3:17 set by Ritter in 2012.
“We've been having people step up all season long,” Barr said. “We had to keep going. We have to stay solid and see this meet through. We didn't count ourselves out.”
It didn't go down the way he dreamed it up but it was still a satisfying conclusion to what, at times, was a frustrating four-year career. Barr became a state champion and helped Ritter, once again, etch its name into the state record book.
“It felt good to get that state championship,” he said.
ORCHARD FARM'S SANDERS DOUBLES UP
Fresh off the first two state championships in his career, recent Orchard Farm graduate Carson Sanders spent his Sunday the best way he could — refreshing his internet browser.
A 5-foot-10 and 135-pound distance runner, Sanders had his fingers crossed he would land a coveted invitation to the Festival of Miles track meet that was held Thursday at St. Louis U. High. In its 12th year, the Festival of Miles is the most unique track meet in the area. Competitors come from all over the country to race in what has become an all-star distance meet. Sanders got a taste of the atmosphere and event when he ran in the middle school races as a seventh and eighth grader. He knew what he was in for and it only made him want it more.
“I kept checking and checking,” he said. “It's such a cool thing.”
When Sanders, 18, found out Monday he would be included, it capped a whirlwind few days for the Orchard Farm standout.
“I was looking forward to getting back. It was pretty incredible,” Sanders said. “I was so excited to get there.”
In the span of five days, Sanders graduated high school, won a pair of state championships and then was invited to the meet he'd hoped to compete in for four years.
“It was a great few days,” Sanders said. “I was just really happy.”
Sanders, who signed with Western Colorado, wasn't all that happy at the end of his Class 3 3,200-meter state championship race. Sure he'd managed to sneak in front of Herculaneum junior Jonathon Coffman as the two came barreling down the home stretch. Sanders crossed in 9:50.51 with Coffman right behind at 9:51.02. But it took everything Sanders had to make it happen. After he realized he'd won, he sat down and put his head in his hands. He had a serious headache and the heat of the day was wearing on him.
“I don't remember it that much,” Sanders said.
Sanders was gassed because he'd kicked a little earlier than he'd have liked in the 1,600, which preceded the 3,200. During cross country season, Sanders learned the hard way how fast Maplewood-Richmond Heights junior Malik Stewart can finish a race. With that knowledge in the back of his head, Sanders decided to go for broke early in the last lap.
“I kicked with about 250 meters to go,” Sanders said. “I knew if I waited until the last 100, I can't out-kick Malik.”
Sanders won the 1,600 championship in 4:24. Stewart was the runner up in 4:28. Stewart got some consolation later in the meet as he won the 800 in 1:57.84 to nip Ritter's Lee Steward, who was second in 1:57.92.
By pushing so hard so early in the 1,600, it meant Sanders would have to find his way through the 3,200 without fresh legs. At other points in his career that might have been a problem. This year, Sanders felt the rigors of the season callused him for this exact scenario. There were several meets where he raced in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and on the Eagles' 3,200-meter relay team. He said a particular bad weather night at the Eastern Relays in Louisville in April helped show him just how strong he could be when presented with tough conditions. It was the only 1,600 or 3,200 race he didn't win this season.
“There were 20 mile per hour winds, it was raining,” Sanders said. “It toughened me up.”
With that knowledge, he went into his championship 3,200 with a plan. He wanted to hang with the lead pack and go for gold when the opportunity presented itself.
“I just wanted to give myself a chance,” Sanders said. “I knew if I kicked before the last 100 meters I was going to die.”
Instead he played it perfectly. He caught Coffman at the line and gave himself his second championship of the meet and his career. He'd never finished better than sixth in his three previous state meet appearances.
“The goal was to get the double win,” Sanders said. “It was awesome.”
GOLDFARB PULLS OFF STUNNER, COMPLETES THE SWEEP
Kylie Goldfarb was out of gas and nearly out of track. A sophomore distance runner at John Burroughs, Goldfarb was sitting in third place halfway through the second lap of the Class 3 800-meter race last Saturday at Walton Field on the campus of the University of Missouri.
Third place simply would not do. Goldfarb, who had already won the 1,600 earlier in the day, wanted to do her part to keep the Burroughs' sweep alive.
Before the state meet, Goldfarb and recent graduate Madison Fuller hatched a plan to take first place in every race from the 100 to the 1,600. Fuller would handle the 100, 200 and 400 while Goldfarb had to make it happen in the 800 and 1,600. As her prospects at claiming the 800 title started to dwindle, Goldfarb dug deep and found her next gear.
“I thought of Madison while I was going,” Goldfarb said. “I didn't want to let her down.”
Goldfarb stepped on the accelerator and pushed past Lutheran South sophomore Macy Schelp, who was in second place. O'Fallon Christian sophomore Mercedes Schroer held the lead and wasn't giving it up.
Had the race been the 799 meter, Schroeder would have held on for the win. But at the very last step of the two-lap race, Goldfarb's chest broke the finish line first as she won the race in 2:20.62. Schroer was the tough-luck runner up in 2:20.64.
“I didn't pass Mercedes until the very last second,” Goldfarb said with a smile.
With her part of the sweep complete, Goldfarb had to wait to see if Fuller could win the 200 to make it happen. Fuller delivered her last win of the meet and the duo achieved their goal of winning the 100-1,600 races at the state meet.
“We just wanted to do it at state,” Goldfarb said. “I'm really proud of her for doing what she could in her senior year. I'm happy I could do it with her.”
Goldfarb and Schroer have had some sensational races in their young careers. Goldfarb won the 1,600 state championship in 5:14. Schroer was the runner up in 5:16. Last year, it was Schroer who took the 1,600 championship while Goldfarb was second. They flip flopped spots in the 800 that year, too.
Schroer did not leave without another state title, though. The O'Fallon Christian standout won the 3,200 championship in 12:02.
HEARD MAKES HISTORY AT LUTHERAN ST. CHARLES
Two inches put Anthony Heard atop the medal stand.
A recent graduate of Lutheran St. Charles, Heard won the Class 3 discus title with a throw of 153 feet, 8 inches. It made him just the second boy in school history to win an individual state track and field championship.
Heard narrowly edged North Callaway's Paden Lewis whose best throw was 153-6.
The Cougars earned two medals in the discus. Senior Christian Locke was fifth with a best throw of 147-1.