On the first Friday of May every year, Hillsboro High School's Hillsboro Invitational provides an excellent opportunity for Class 3, 4, and 5 teams and athletes to compete one last time before the 3-week stretch of the state series. Seven days before Districts, schools with their conference meets behind them descend on the seat of Jefferson County with a final chance to improve their district seeding and qualify additional entries with three or more athletes meeting a standard.
Lutheran South also usually hosts a meet on the final weekend of the regular season. However, the Saturday meet was not held this year with construction just beginning on campus. That drew even more teams to Hillsboro, including Lutheran South. The Hosts had to turn away schools because of the overwhelming interest that couldn't be practically accommodated because of time. The large amount of talent that was entered into the meet produced many top Missouri marks, personal records (PRs), and school records (SR).
Field events started at 1:00 p.m. while track events at 2:30. Conditions were sunny with mild temperatures for a few hours before the skies became overcast before clearing for the final events.
Photo Illustration-Chris Auckley
Hillsboro Invitational Boys Top Race Highlights Video
The meet featured state title favorites and contenders in each classification on the boys' side.
Class 5- Rock Bridge
Class 3- Bowling Green
Blazing 1600 lead to Top MO marks, SRs, and PRs
The Festus Tigers improved their season's best in the 4x800. They won the meets first track event in 8:05.17 to move to 9th on the state performance list and 2nd in Class 4, behind only Hillsboro's 7:59 from two weeks before. Hillsboro didn't run their A-team Friday. Union was 2nd in 8:14.53 giving them a top-7 spot on the Class 4 list. Dexter finished 3rd in 8:16.75 to put them atop the Class 3 list.
Two sections of the 1600 raced before the excitement and anticipation of the 3rd section boiled over. A stacked field didn't disappoint. Hillsboro senior and Southern Illinois signee Josh Allison led the pace for the first two laps, checking his watch at 400-meters as Lutheran South senior Adam Snoke, a Tennessee signed, was on his shoulder. Snoke moved down the homestretch with just over a lap to go. Central-Cape Girardeau's Ryan Seabaugh followed as the bell rang. Jonah Allison moved up to 4th, alongside teammate and twin Josh.
Snoke and Seabaugh pushed on the backstretch while Josh Allison opened up his stride and pumped his arms to move with them. Jonah Allison, Jackson's Cade McCadams, and Rock Bridge's Hudson Summerall trailed. Off the final turn, Seabaugh tried to pull alongside Snoke. The pair drifted to lanes two and three before Snoke held on and raised his arms in victory just before the finish line.
4:15!! Snoke finished in 4:15.60 and Seabaugh 4:15.78, both PRs while Seabaugh's time was a school record (SR). Josh Allison was 3rd in 4:17.27 while brother Jonah was 4th in 4:19.86, both PRs. The times put the individuals into spots #4-5-6 and #14 on the state performance list. Snoke is atop the Class 3 list while Seabaugh and the Allisons' moved to 1st, 2nd, and 4th on the Class 4 state list.
Rock Bridge's Hudson Summerall was 5th in 4:21.74 for a PR and a spot at #24 on the state list while McCadams was 6th in 4:23.06 and already #22 on the state list with a previous 4:21.
Bowling Green junior Ben Chance was 7th in 4:24.37 for a school record and #37 spot on the state list and #3 on the Class 3 list, behind Snoke and East Newton's Chase Sorrell. North County senior Jackson Leeds was 8th in 4:27.19 for the 12th spot on the Class 4 list. Herculaneum sophomore Nathaniel Wright (Herculaneum) was 9th in 4:28.80. His 4:26 from the week before puts him 4th on the Class 3 list. Jackson's Hunter Wendel was 10th in 4:29.56 to make it 10 under 4:30.
In the 800, Rock Bridge senior Ty Welty was pushing for a PR, flying down the homestretch on the first lap in new, all-white uniforms. His fast pace strung out the field, with only Snoke close, a few strides back. Snoke took control on the final lap, moving to the lead and pushing to the finish with arms flying. He crossed the line in 1:57.43 for a state top-25 mark.
Union High School senior and standout 400/800 runner Bryson Pickard was 7th at 400 meters, 2.8 seconds back of Snoke. He closed strong, taking 2nd in 1:59.65. Welty was 3rd in 2:00.67. Jackson's Cole Puls was 4th in 2:01.94.
Rock Bridge freshmen Luke Sievers and Matthew Kim (Rock Bridge) took to the track in the 3200 in new pink uniforms for the Bruins. Kim led early with Sievers, Farmington junior Evan Fuller, and Hillsboro's Landon Pogue close behind.
Sievers took pacing duties as the pair pulled away from the field. Sievers got away from Kim a few laps in. Sievers finished a nearly solo effort in an impressive 9:37. The finish was just two seconds off his PR from the uber-talented Boys Elite 3200 at the William Chrisman Bill Summa Invitational a month before.
Fuller got past Kim, taking 2nd in a PR of 9:55. Kim was 3rd in 9:58. Hillsboro's Clayton Schneider and Landon Pogue were 4th and 5th in 10:03 and 10:04. Jackson junior Jack Hutson was 6th in 10:12 while Andrew Snoke, Adam's twin, was 7th in 10:22.
Bowling Green's Starks soars, nearing 7-0 barrier
While the 1600 was the biggest highlight of the meet with so many outstanding performances, Bowling Green's Marcus Starks got the most attention of anyone at Hillsboro. With the announcement that Starks was attempting a meet record in the high jump, just about everything seemed to stop on the track side of the facility. With the spotlight on him, Starks came through, giving viewers a thrill.
Starks is a senior at Bowling Green where he played running back on the football. Starks, who stands 5-11, entered his senior season with three All-State finishes on his resume, one each in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, and high jump over the previous two seasons. Last year, in his first year taking up the high jump, Starks placed 2nd in Class 3 at state with a personal best of 2.02-meters/6-7.5.
This year, Starks has soared to new heights. He credits viewing technique videos on the internet to growing his knowledge and guiding him to his senior year success. Starks cleared 2.11m/6-11 at the Troy Trojan Varsity meet last month to move him to the top of the Missouri list and the top-20 in the nation.
Starks had secured the high jump title at Hillsboro, before moving the bar to 2.12m/6-11.5, a meet record-setting height. On his second attempt, with an audience of maybe 500 viewers, Starks started his approach from as far from the high jump pit as possible, almost up against the fence, in lane eight of the track. He ran toward the bar, curved right, and planted with his right foot. He curled his back for a split second before contracting and pulling his legs up and in. He brushed the bar with the back of his right thigh. The bar bounced ¾ of an inch but stayed on the standards.