For many years now the road to the state championship has been through Lee's Summit West. Both in cross country and track & Field the Titans have been one of the most dominant programs in the state for what seem likes eternity. In the past, Lee's Summit West was one of our rivals at Parkway Central in the old format of the state meet. I can honestly say with the level of dominance LSW has created I happy to not have to face them every season. Coach Griffin has been a student of the game for a long time and most impressively is his most recent teams seem to have no weakness. Last year they broke the overall unofficial scoring record and they turned the trick again this spring score 109 points. 109 points in the state championship is seriously ridiculous. To think about all that has to go right with training, health, event choices, recruitment, and investment in a track & field season to score that many points can even leave me befuddled. If anyone wants to know what it takes to build a serious winner look no further than Jesse Griffin's Titans.
Mo.milesplit: Coach, a great way to finish the season is winning a top four trophy. How do you feel about the outcome?
Coach Griffin: Our goal as a coaching staff was to put the girls in a position to defend their state title and every single girl stepped up across the board. The girls also had a goal of finishing the season on top and they were able to accomplish the task. I am extremely happy for all of them and pleased with the way they took care of business. They did not look past what was in front of them the entire meet and worked together as a group.
Where did this trophy fall in the scheme of your overall plan?
Our overall plan is to get as fit as possible and keep everyone healthy throughout the season. When we get to the state series if everything is going as planned we look at each meet as a situation that girls need to be in the top 4 and advance. The only time really talked as a team about the state team championship was in our team meeting the week of state. I do think in the back of everyone's mind there is a desire to defend the state championship from last year but it is not something we really talk about much as the season progresses.
What was the biggest turning point for your squad at state?
The way our girls started the meet set the tone for the whole weekend. Makayla Kelby winning the discus and setting the class 5 record at almost the same time the girls 4x800 relay was winning on the track started the meet off on a great note. On Saturday, Kyra Atkins placed 2nd in the 100 hurdles and had a great race but in the process injured her hip coming off hurdle number 8 and was unable to finish the meet at that point. All our girls kept their composure and took care of business the rest of the day filling in on relays and doing their best in each event. For the most part track and field is an individual sport but our girls functioned with a combined energy and the adversity they faced with the injury to Kyra was evident in every single event from that point forward.
Who had the biggest breakthrough in the meet?
We had a lot of girls with great performances throughout the weekend. I am not going to be able to list all of them but Maddie Harris going from 7th to 2nd on her last throw in the javelin on Saturday morning was huge. Mariah Brackins-Smiley placing 7th in the 100 and Jessica Haney placing 7th in the triple jump were huge performances. Both of these girls were on the outside looking in and on paper were not supposed to be all-state in their events. Kyra Atkins dropping huge time in the 100 hurdles was a big breakthrough for her especially being her first year doing the 100 hurdles. I was also pleased with Jana Shawver being able to finally win the 800.
Was there any history made at the meet for your program. Medals earned, records broken, or first time all state events?
I think for our girls to score in 16 out of the 17 events we competed was a testament to have a good well rounded track team. Kyra Atkins had to be scratched from the 300 hurdle final due to an injury or we would have scored in all 17 events. Scoring 109 points is also an all-time best for both genders and all classes which was pretty amazing as the girls kept plugging away throughout the meet. In 2016 we won 7 events and were just shy of that total winning 5 events this year but still was a great accomplishment for our program.
How do you feel your athletes handled the conditions?
I was so pleased with how my 1600 girls handled coming back and running 6 hours later in the meet. They did not let it phase them and were determined to run their very best. The rest of the girls picked up right where we left off and were just as determined to continue to work together until the meet ended.
Is there anything you believe the state should do to enhance the state championship or the sport of track and field?
I honestly would like to see the 3200 run in a cooler time of the day if possible. I really like the facility at Jeff City and hope we can stay there in the near future.