Today we are on to our second edition of athletes to watch for the 2021 track season, and are going to take a look at the400m and 800m races. For these articles I am be taking into account any marks recorded in 2019 or 2020, and will do my best to predict what class athletes will compete in.
Lets start by digging in to the girls 400m dash. Cheyenne Melvin of McCluer is the top returning 400m in the state heading into the 2021 season. She ran a personal best of 57.12 to earn the Class 4 state championship in 2019, and will look to repeat as champion this season. Her biggest challengers will be 2019 runner up Haley Luna (Platte County) who has a personal best of 57.97, and Class 3 third place finisher Dayna Reid (Trinity Catholic) at 57.99 who will be making the jump to Class 4 as well.
Caleia Johnson (Park Hill) is the top returner in Class 5 after finishing fourth at state and owning a personal best of 57.34. Hadley Jetmore (Pembroke Hill) will be the favorite in Class 3 with a personal best of 57.70. Other athletes to watch include Chloe Saenz (Staley), Zora Williams (Francis Howell), Nnenna Okpara (Parkway Central), and Kristi Ewing (Trenton).
Logan Arellano (Kearney) is the top returner on the boys side of the 400m, and he comes in with a personal best of 49.22 and placed sixth in the 2019 Class 4 state meet. The next fastest returner is the multi event talented Johnny Brackins (Lee Summit) who owns a personal best of 49.67, and would be a favorite in Class 5 should he choose the 400m to be one of his four events. Other athletes to watch include Angelo Butts (McCluer North), Sam Wright (Hillsboro), Logan Pratt (Grain Valley), and Jae Abernathy (Clinton).
Looking to the girls 800m, the top overall returning girl Keilah Wilkes of Pattonville. She was the third place finisher in 2019 with her personal best time of 2:16. She will be challenged by 2-time defending state champion Kylie Goldfarb (John Burroughs) who will be making the jump from Class 3 to Class 5, and also has a personal best of 2:16. Jasmyn Douglas (Republic) also comes into that race with a 2:19 and will be a factor.
There are also a lot of underclassmen standouts who have burst on to the scene since the spring on 2019. 2019 state cross country champions Carolyn Ford (Rock Bridge) and Julia Ray (MICDS), as well as state medalists Grace Tyson (Lafayette - Wildwood) could all factor in as well. Other athletes to watch include Madelyn Gray (Ft Zumwalt South), Makayla Clark (Lee's Summit West), Erika Mellor (DeSoto), and Delaney Straus (Marion County).
2019 Class 5 third place finisher Micah Bruggeman (Joplin) is the top overall returning on the boys side, having run 1:55 as a sophomore. Luis Perezruiz (Liberty North) and Reginald King (Grandview) are the other returning boys who are sub 2:00, both having ran 1:58. Other athletes to watch this spring include Kaleb Owens (Kirkwood), Dyimond Walker (Hogan Prep), Alex Clinton (Poplar Bluff), Ryan Byers (Joplin), Kevin McClain (Blue Springs), and Jose Salas Esquivel (Monett).