JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The second day of the Missouri Track and Field Championships began with a superb relay struggle that featured five lead changes and four teams scrambling for position in the final meters of the race.
When the smoke cleared from the Class 4 boys’ 3,200-meter relay, Rockhurst had successfully defended its relay title with a winning time of 7:49.24, and the Hawklets had to earn that victory.
Blue Springs led for more than half of the race with Simon Belete and Stephen Mugeche running the first two legs in an attempt to push the Wildcats far out in front. Finally on the anchor leg, Rockhurst’s Carson Bode moved out of the front pack and took over the front position.
Marquette’s Noah Kauppila briefly kicked past Bode, but Bode regained the lead in a sprint for the finish in the final 20 meters to give Rockhurst the title again this year.
“Right around the 200 he came outside and took the lead; I knew he was a great runner with a lot of talent,” Bode said. “I just kept him within range and the last 100 I gave it everything I had.
“I felt in control to an extent, but knowing there were so many quick guys behind me I just had to race smart and stick to my plan.”
Kauppila got the baton back in the chase pack and quickly moved to within striking distance on his first lap. He made a second move to get to the front of the race, which ensured Marquette of second place in 7:49.81.
“I was back by a lot, so it was like giving someone who is really fast a 20 meter head start,” Kauppila said. “I almost had him. He had a great kick.”
After being clocked at a 1:52.19 on his leg of the relay, Kauppila came back with another strong 800 meters later in the day to win in 1:54.15.
Blue Springs took third in 7:50.65, and Fox battled to remain in contact with the leaders throughout the race, and it paid off with a fast fourth-place finish in 7:50.68.