Max McDaniel, Alec Whitener

Festus seniors Max McDaniel, left, and Alec Whitener catch their breath after competing in the 1,600-meter run at the Class 4 state track and field championships in Washington on Saturday. 

The Festus senior wrapped up his time as a Tiger on Saturday by winning the Class 4 1,600-meter run in 4:21.20, then later on a hot afternoon in Washington, claiming the 3,200 in 9:27.23. McDaniel was among a tight pack of four runners with about an eighth of a mile to go in the 1,600 when he pulled away with a mighty kick.

Festus qualified for the Class 4 state track and field championships in 10 events and brought home 13 medals to finish second with 50 points. Grandview won the boys title with 63 points. The Missouri State High School Activities Association condensed the two-day event into one day and split up the locations of Classes 3-5 after a tornado seriously damaged Jefferson City on May 22.

McDaniel and juniors Dominik Kayser, Jonah Krieg and Simon Ogle won the 4x800 relay in 7:59.06. The Tigers were 12th in the state in the 4x800 last season.

“My plan was to win. I wanted to go out and give everything I’ve got,” said McDaniel, who was fourth and 11th respectively in the 1,600 and 3,200 at state last year. “After the 4x800 split (1:55), I’ll be honest, I was pretty wiped. I thought I could do something pretty special today. I’ve been praying a lot to get this opportunity.”

McDaniel trailed Excelsior Springs junior Michael Rebello for much of the 1,600.

“It was such a tough race. I was ready to give up two laps in,” McDaniel said. “I got right up there in the pack and I’ve worked on my kick non-stop this year and have got it to a tee right now. With 200 meters left, I gave it full surge and no one’s been able to keep up with me.”

Festus senior Alec Whitener also scored points for the Tigers in the 1,600 (seventh, 4:28.78) and the 3,200 (fourth, 9:45.72). Whitener’s view of McDaniel has been the same as most everyone else this spring.

“Most of the time I know he’s got it in the bag because of what a great, elite athlete he is,” Whitener said. “You battle with him, and once the going gets tough, he comes out on top.”

Festus head coach Chris Partney said athletes from other schools who compete in other events have been making time this season to watch McDaniel when he steps onto the track.

“He’s a machine. People enjoy watching what he does,” Partney said. “We had sprinters from one school and throwers from another school, they were saying, ‘Hey, let’s watch this Festus kid.’ He’s one of those athletes that people want to watch.”

The Tigers won the Jefferson County Activities Association, district and sectional meets this year.

“I thought we could score 50 points (at state) if things went well,” Partney said. “Usually 50 points will put you in the hunt. The boys had a great day and performed the best they could.”

Senior Jacob Pauly was the other Festus athlete to score points in more than one event. Pauly was fourth in the 110 high hurdles in 14.90 and eighth in the 300 hurdles in 40.92. Pauly didn’t get past sectionals in 2018.

“He (set personal records) in his events and when you do that and get on the podium you can’t complain about the finish you got,” Partney said. “He knew what he had done with his times. He had two great races. He’s worked really hard since I’ve known him in middle school.”

Senior Jaylan Watson returned to state in the long jump, and after a fourth-place finish in 22-02.75 last year, he was sixth in 21-6.75 this season. In his first season as a pole vaulter, Festus junior Austin Coale battled a tough field -- Liberty senior Nolan Bone won Class 4 by clearing 15-9 -- and came in seventh in 14-0. Sophomore Austin Anderson threw the javelin 164-4 to finish seventh for the Tigers.

Festus pole vault coach Mike Reed asked Coale to try the event after he saw Coale do some pretty athletic things one day.

“I was blowing through my poles and had to borrow a pole from Pacific,” Coale said. “The longer poles bent more than I was used to, but it’s part of the sport.”

The Hillsboro boys scored six points on senior Isaac Readnour’s third-place finish in the long jump in 22-8, which broke the school record. Readnour made it to state in 2018 in the triple jump.

Parkway North won the Class 4 state girls competition with 73 points. De Soto finished 24th with 10 points, while the Hawks (28th, 8 points) and Festus (51st, 1) rounded out the county competition.

Dragon senior Kaitlyn McGinnitey won two medals, finishing fifth in the 100 hurdles in 14.99 seconds and seventh in the 300 hurdles in 45.47. Since the meet was limited to one day, preliminaries were limited, but McGinnitey ran one in the 100 hurdles. She said running the prelim helped her later in the finals.

“I was happy with my times,” McGinnitey said. “They’re faster than last year’s times. All the girls around me are running in the 14s. I didn’t care about my place. I just wanted to beat my PR.”

Sophomore Erika Mellor was part of the Dragons’ 4x200 and 4x400 relays that didn’t win a medal on Saturday, but Mellor closed out a very promising season by coming in fifth in the 800 in 2:20.74.

When she learned she wouldn’t be competing in Jefferson City, Mellor was caught off guard.

“At first I was a little distraught, I thought, ‘On no, this is the end of the world,’” she said. “But I thought this might not be the worst thing. My heart goes out to the (athletes) who were impacted by the (tornado) in Jefferson City, and I don’t know how they competed today.”

Coffman stacks up medals

In the past two seasons, Herculaneum junior Jonathon Coffman has piled up six Class 3 state medals, and he has a total of eight in his career.

Last year, Coffman was part of the Blackcats’ 4x800 relay that finished third, and he was fifth in the 1,600 and fourth in the 3,200. On Saturday in Washington, Coffman was fourth in the 1,600 in 4:31.23, second in the 3,200 in 9:51.02 and ran a leg in the 4x800 relay which was second in 8:15.59.

Senior Nautica Stricklin closed out her prep career at Herky with a second-place finish in the 3,200 in 12:04.99. The four-time JCAA cross country champion was eighth in the 3,200 in Class 3 last spring.