Republic's girls track and field squad entered the Class 5 District 6 meet on a high note after finishing first in the Central Ozark Conference meet at Ozark. After that finish, head coach Tori Mooneyham knew the Tigers had a shot at a district title.
"We knew it was going to be close between three or four schools and we tried to squeeze out every point that we could," she said. "Had a lot of first place but we also had a lot of kids that weren't expected to score that came up with big with those points, just one or two here and there. Like I said, just a team effort."
Republic won six events on Saturday, May 13, to claim first place and finished just three points ahead of Nixa. Gracie Troester was the key performer for the Tigers.
The sophomore won three individual events and ran on the champion 4x800 relay, making her contribution to the winning effort a total of 40 points.
"She pulled it off with four first places," Mooneyham said. "That's hard to do. Not a lot of kids will run all four but she's special, has a lot of mental toughness and she got it done."
She won the 1600 in 5:22.91, the 800 in 2:21.77 and the 3200 in 11:43.34, while the 4x8 relay that included Kristin Probst, Gracie Woods and Cali Thompson won in 9:48.98.
Republic's 4x4 relay won in 4:10.16 with Woods, Probst, Rilynn Finley and Alaina Norman running, and Norman added another first in the shot put, where she reached a distance of 37-05.25.
The Tigers also qualified their 4x200 relay that placed fourth, Finley (2nd) in the 300 hurdles, Probst (2nd) in the 800, Kailey Manes (tied 2nd) in the high jump, Jenna Belcher (2nd) in the triple jump and Norman (3rd) in the javelin.
"In years past it's always been individual for us, we've never quite had the depth we do this year," Mooneyham said. "It's been a lot of fun to focus on the team aspect as well as qualifying. That's kind of different for us but also fun. Any time you win, more winning comes with that. It kind of feeds on itself, so we're hoping we continue this momentum next weekend and continue to perform well and get as many kids to state as we can."
Nixa's day was highlighted by Ava Owens' win in the discus with a distance of 121-00. The Eagles had 13 other entries place in the top four to qualify for the sectional.
Ozark had three winners: Bria Wright won the 100 hurdles in 15.98 seconds, Blaire Pace won the 400 in 1:00.10 and Abby Beets won the pole vault at 10-05.50. The Tigers had 11 other sectional qualifiers.
Kickapoo won the 4x200 relay in 1:44.83 with Parker Papa, Sophia Lowry, Nikki Hamme and Taylor Mayo running and Mayo also took first in the long jump (18-03.25) and triple jump (38-08.25). The Chiefs also won the 4x100 in 49.49 seconds with Ava Shurtz, Mayo, Lowry and Papa running. They had nine other sectional qualifiers.
Joplin's Brylee Strickland won the 200 (26.30 seconds) and Kiki Thom won the 300 hurdles (47.48 seconds). The Eagles had seven other entries qualify for the sectional.
For Carthage, Joey Hettinger won the high jump at 5-02.25 and five others placed in the top four to qualify.
Branson's Allison Thomas was first in the javelin with a distance of 124-04, one of three sectional qualifications for the Pirates.
Parkview's Erykah Lee was first in the 100 with a time of 12.22 seconds, also one of three sectional qualifications.