2024 MSHSAA State Track and Field Preview: Class 4 and 5

We have officially arrived at the final of the two MSHSAA State Championship weekends. All information for spectators and teams can be found at the MSHSAA website. It should be a fun weekend of competition with many incredible performances to watch and state records in danger of falling.

Below, we have included several of the most interesting storylines to watch heading into the weekend. With so many incredible athletes and teams in play, it is sure to be an exciting time full of the full range of emotions. 

Be on the lookout for our State Meet Predictions, with picks to win from MO MileSplit contributors Cody Thorn, Chris Auckley, and I. You can also check the following links for more information and news from the State Series weekend!

Coverage: Photos | Videos | Results


Hauser Looks To Close Out Incredible Career With Distance Quad

Rock Bridge's Andrew Hauser will look to close out an illustrious career on Friday and Saturday with an attempt at the always difficult distance quad. An 8-time all-state honoree across cross country and track, with 3 individual state golds to go along with top 2 team honors in all 7 seasons in which he has competed, all that is left for the Bruin to do is pick up a state record and complete a distance quad at the state track meet. 

The 1600 has seemed to be Hauser's best event over his career as he has won the last 2 gold medals in the Class 5 race. He enters the weekend with a 4:12.85 season best, just off his 4:11.20 personal best, but will face stiff competition for the crown his time around from Rockhurst's Henry Acorn, Kirkwood's Graham Stevener, and Liberty North's Collin Kleinhen, among others. Hauser will make his first attempt at the state level in the 800, but comes in as the top-ranked runner in the entire state over the distance with his 1:52.21 personal best. Waynesville's Tyrell Phinn, and Rockhurst teammates Andrew Davis and William Hayes appear to be the biggest competition with their personal bests all under 1:54. In the 3200, the state's No. 3 all-time 5k runner (14:38.15) heads in with the only sub-9:00 personal best among the field with an 8:51.10 mark he posted at this year's Eastern Relays. He is 21 seconds ahead of Kirkwood's Levi Rowan, Rockhurst's Acorn, and Platte County's Andrew Johnson. With 11 guys in the field heading into the race under 9:20, this year's 3200 may just end up being the fastest the state has ever seen, even with warm conditions on tap. As for the 4x800 relay, we will dig more into that later on in this article. 

Hauser's efforts will surely add to the Rock Bridge 4-peat effort this weekend. Even if he doesn't pull off this impressive feat, we should expect an impressive finale to his impressive career. 


Cantwell Eyes More National Accolades

It has been thoroughly detailed this season already, the meteoric rise Nixa's Jackson Cantwell has made in this 2024 season. This weekend's Class 5 State Championship should only cement the sophomore's legacy as one of the state's all-time best...with two more years still to go in his career.

The five-star football recruit is also nationally ranked as a shot put and discus thrower. He rocketed up the most recent MileSplit50 rankings after his 22.80m (74-9.75) heave in the shot put at the Class 5 District 6 meet. This mark is 2024 US No. 2, US No. 8 all-time, and a Sophomore Class National Record. His discus personal best of 62.59m (205-4) from the Kansas Relays is 2024 US No. 4 and also a Sophomore Class National Record.

Cantwell dropped jaws across the state when he nearly threw the shot out of the ring at Jefferson City's Licklider Relays six weeks ago. Hopefully this weekend, they will extend the sector a bit to accommodate one of the country's best throwers as he seeks out another gold at the state level and a state meet record or two.


The Fastest 4x800 Race In State History Is Coming...

This is it. This is the year that we see Missouri's first ever sub-7:40 team. The amazing thing is: It could be one of several teams.

Rockhurst won the state's fastest non-state meet 4x800 relay last weekend, putting down an eye-popping MO No. 7 all-time 7:44.84. Their school record is the only one of the top 36 marks in the state's database that did not come at the State meet. This weekend, the team of Hayes, Davis, Acorn, and Jacob Bond looks to take out Lafayette Wildwood's state record of 7:40.29 from 2016. Unlike the Lancers, though, who won by a whopping 16 seconds, the Hawklets will have several teams running right with them. 

Liberty North, the reigning Class 5 champions in the event, were only a second behind Rockhurst on Saturday, running 7:45.44. They ran 7:43.64 last May for the state gold. Liberty was 6 seconds back in 7:50.10 and Lee's Summit came across in 7:54.07. On Friday morning, the 16 teams toeing the line will come in at 8:03 or better, with 9 teams coming in under 8:00 already. Last year, it took a 7:54.14 to earn a state medal, with 4 teams finishing under 8:00 and missing out on a spot on the podium. It would not be surprising to see all 16 teams under 8:00 on Friday, making this the absolute fastest field we have ever seen in any class in state history.


Rock Bridge, Cardinal Ritter Go For Four-Peats

The last three Boys and Girls Class 5 State Championships have gone to two teams: Rock Bridge and Cardinal Ritter. These two incredible programs will be looking for team title number 4 this weekend, something only the Lee's Summit West girls ('16-'19), Hazelwood Central boys ('10-'13), Central Kansas City boys ('65-'72), and University City boys (1932-1936) have accomplished in the state's largest classification. 

It's been a relatively quiet year by their standards for the Lady Lions of Cardinal Ritter, but they have come on strong in the last two weeks and appear ready to make their biggest statement on the biggest stage this weekend. They have Aniyah Brown, Brooklyn Brady, and Kayla Watkins in the 100, Brown, Brady, and Kyndall Spain in the 200, Brown and Mekenzie Rogers in the 400, Spain and Naila Kerr in the 100 meter hurdles and 300 meter hurdles, Hannah Wallace in the high and triple jump, Takia Tiller in the triple jump, and Cami Costello and Sasha Redding in the shot put. Their 4x100 and 4x200 teams are running not only for gold, but for another state record, and their 4x400 relay will be highly competitive once again.

The only team really standing in their way is Blue Springs, a team who is similarly as deep, but in many of the events Cardinal Ritter is not. The Wildcats were the closest squad to Ritter in 2023, even though it turned out to be hardly close at all. Even with 63 points, Blue Springs came up 31 points short. Coach Reeder's team returns the top seeded 800 runner - Paige Stuart - and 4x400 and 4x800 relays that should be considered the favorite to pull off the win in their respective fields. They have strong individuals in the 1600 and 3200 in Abigail Brackenbury and Ava Power, representation in the shot put and javelin from A'Mya Criglar and Ramiyah Petty-Calhoun, and triple jumper/hurdler Harmonie Hughes in the mix. Their 4x100 and 4x200 relays will compete for major points, and do not forget about Ariana Jackson in the relays plus the 200 and 400 meter dash. Up and down, Blue Springs should be able to compete pound for pound with Cardinal Ritter, but the Lions have shown time and again that they know how to prepare for the State Championships and will surely not go down without a hard-fought battle.

As for the Boys' competitions, Rock Bridge should be considered the favorite with their championship series surge and back-to-back-to-back titles over the last three years. They could theoretically sweep all four relays and pick up victories in all three distance events, either from the afore-mentioned Andrew Hauser or super-sophomore and 2023 Cross Country champion Luke Sievers. Riley Rolwing, Justin Giles, and Carter Atkinson lead the sprints crew in the open 200 and 400 meter dashes, with Drevyn Seamon contributing on the relays. Donivan Taylor is a 7m long jumper and Mpawenayo Danford is a 4.74m pole vaulter. Jaxon Kindle is closing in on 16m in the shot put and Harrison Hicklin is closing in on 14m in the triple jump. After losing some key seniors last spring, the Bruins have retooled with more young talent and will surely be running wild this weekend. 

Their biggest competition will come from cross-town rival Hickman, as well as Nixa and Rockhurst. Hickman has made noise all season with their 4x100 and 4x200 relays, led by Langston Thomas (a contender for gold in three individual events, as well), freshman phenom John Moss, and Francis Wright. Travis McCarty and Collin Wise provide insurance in the pole vault, but it may not be enough to fully contend with the depth of Rock Bridge. Nixa has power from the distance and throws events. Their boys finished 4th this fall on the cross country course and come in ready to add to Jackson Cantwell's projected 20 points in the shot put and discus events. Aaron Ashley is the main contributor in the individual events as he has qualified in the 800, 1600, and 3200. Their 4x800 relay, which features several of their top 7 from this fall, will also be in the mix for hardware this weekend. Hayden Mays, often overlooked in the shadow of his teammate and classmate, may be the state runner-up in both the shot put and discus, making this arguably the strongest throws duo in the entire state right now. Rockhurst's strength is in their distance runners, as well, as they look to score double digit points in the 4x800 and open 800, as well as pull in points in the 1600 and 3200 from Henry Acorn. Their 4x400 cleared 3:20 last weekend led by 400 contender Leo Faulkner and Luke Lewellen is a contender for hardware in the discus. 

Expect challenges from several of the state's best teams, but few to match the depth that Rock Bridge brings in this weekend. We should not be surprised to see a four-peat happen on both sides of the Class 5 spectrum on Saturday.


Brown, Bradley Go For Sprint Treble

This weekend will provide an impressive battle for a sprint treble between two of the state's all time greats: Cardinal Ritter's Aniyah Brown and Pattonville's A'laji Bradley.

Brown and Bradley head into the weekend after having dominated their respective district and sectional meets, picking up a combined 12 individual gold medals across the four meets. Brown's personal bests of 11.41 (+3.2) in the 100, 23.37 in the 200, and 55.72 in the 400 pair up nicely with Bradley's bests of 11.58, 23.60, and 53.33. In 2023, the two finished behind Raytown South juggernaut Zaya Akins in the 100 and 200, while Bradley finished behind Akins in the 400. 

This weekend, all eyes are on how these two close out their careers before heading off to the Ohio State University (Brown) and the University of Kentucky (Bradley).


Barnard Looks To Cement All-Time Legacy

It has been a relatively quiet, somewhat ho-hum track season for Lafayette senior Natalie Barnard after the kind of cross country season that most only dream about. Nevertheless, the Lancer heads into the weekend as the heavy favorite to bring home victories in both the 1600 and 3200 in Missouri's highest classification. 

Barnard became only the third Missourian to break 17:00 for 5k this fall, joining all-time greats Taylor Werner and Hanah Long. She won the Class 5 State Championship before finishing 10th at the Nike Cross Midwest Regional Championships. This spring, she has posted results at only a handful of meets, but has still posted personal bests in the 1600 of 4:54.55 and 3200 of 10:29.56, the latter mark being MO No. 10 all-time and only 10 seconds off Taylor Werner's 10:19 state record. She will look to go back-to-back in the Class 5 3200 this year and pick up her first 1600 title, as well, while also looking to lead her 4x800 meter relay team to victory once again. 


Peterson Has 20/41 Long/Triple In Sight

Hickman's Athena Peterson has eyes on an impressive double in the long and triple jump this weekend, as she seems to be firing on all cylinders in the horizontal jumps heading into the season finale. 

Peterson has posted personal bests this season of 6.04m (19-9.75) and 12.23m (40-1.5) this season, the latter coming at last weekend's Sectional 2 meet. She has won every meet she has competed in except the District 4 meet and is the top-ranked athlete in the long jump, just ahead of Truman's Katelyn Wink, but will ahead in behind Ritter's Hannah Wallace, who popped off an eye-popping MO No. 4 all-time 12.52m (41-1) mark. Peterson was the state runner-up in the triple and finished 3rd in the long jump in 2023 and will surely be among the contenders for gold in both this weekend. She will also be competing in the high jump and 300m hurdles.


Ladue Eyes Boys, Girls Team Sweep

Coach Nick Buckvar's squad at Ladue Horton Watkins has an opportunity to do something very few programs have ever done: Sweep the team titles in both the Boys and Girls divisions at the State meet. The last team to do it was Trinity Catholic in 2019 in Class 3; the last team to do it in Class 4 or 5 was Hazelwood Central in 2013. The Hawks also accomplished this in 1987 and Hazelwood East accomplished the feat an incredible three years in a row in 1995, 1996, and 1997. 

The Girls race will be hotly contested between two teams within 8.5 miles of each other as Parkway Central comes into the weekend ready to return to the top of the state podium after winning it all in 2022. Ladue's middle-distance and long sprints squads are the deepest they have ever been as freshman Aaliyah Rogers's arrival has only boosted the already loaded crew of Delaney Brinker, Karina Griffin, and Laila Murray, among others. The squad can boast that these four athletes have all run under 60 seconds in the open 400 meter run, and three of them have run under 2:18 in the 800. Harper Buxner is a 2:24.48 runner that makes their potential 4x800 squad one to watch take out the elusive Class 4 record set by Parkway Central in 2009. Ladue should also pick up point contributions from Bella Jones in the high jump and Sabra Fink in the shot put and discus while their relays attempt to sweep all four events. 

On the Boys' side, the Rams are competing against Cardinal Ritter, Parkway North, and Hillsboro, among others, for state supremacy, it would seem. Ladue is led by Gavin Via and Rylan Wilson, of similar long sprint fame to their female counterparts, as well as short sprinter Shaun Roberts. Evan Via, Chase Storman, Owen Levine, and Kaiden Gheorghian all appear to contribute strong relay legs, while Evan Via competes for a medal in the open 200. Horizontal jumper Dwayne Foley looks to add points in the long and triple jump, as well, with his 6.95m and 13.59m season bests. The Rams will have competitive teams in all four relays and could stack high points in those areas to pad their individual successes. It will be a hard fought battle with Cardinal Ritter's sprint/jumps squad, Hillsboro's distance/hurdles/throws squad, and a similarly constructed Parkway North group and will be interesting to see who else can rise to the occasion this weekend.


Fuller, Driemeier, Rivera, Koerber Highlight Stellar Class 4 1600, 3200 Fields

Much like the fields in the Class 5 races, the Class 4 1600 and 3200 races will surely be hotly contested up front.

This past Saturday, 4 of top 5 ranked athletes finished the Class 4 Sectional 1 3200 nearly hand-in-hand as Desoto's Carson Koerber, Festus' Carson Driemeier, Hillsboro's Landon Pogue, and Farmington's Evan Fuller easily qualified for the state meet in 10:27.9. The four-some enter with personal bests of, respectively, 9:27.36, 9:11.71, 9:28.66, and 9:15.36. Lincoln College Prep's Isaac Rivera is the third-ranked athlete when considering personal bests, with a mark of 9:16.22 to his name. His teammate Aidan Kemnitzer makes it 6 guys at 9:30 or better, which should make for a fun race in the Boys 3200 meter run. 

In the 1600, Fuller and Driemeier head in as the favorites, with marks of 4:13.33 and 4:13.84, respectively, marks they ran together at the Mineral Area Relays a month and a half ago. Slightly more recently was Rivera's 4:16.56 mark at the blazing fast Ken Peek Invitational, but even more recently than that was Ft. Zumwalt East's Tyler Anderson's personal best of 4:19.54. Those four boys head in to Saturday's race as the only four to have broken 4:20 in Class 4 this season and should surely be the four who will duke it out for the gold medal at Jefferson City High School.


Skyye Lee Looks For Back-to-Back Quad Championships

In 2023, Parkway Central's Skyye Lee pulled off an impressive sprint/hurdle quad, winning the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, 100 meter hurdles, and 300 meter hurdles.  She scored 40 of the Colts' 48.5 points en route to their 3rd place finish. She will go for the same quad in 2024, ranked first in all four events, with personal bests of 11.67, 24.06, 13.36, and 43.31. 

In the 100 and 200, she will surely face challenges from Capital City's Tyrica Sterrett, Festus' Jahmeshia Patterson, and Ladue's Delaney Brinker, among a myriad others, but in the hurdle events, Lee is far and away the favorite for the gold. She will seek out individual state championships 7, 8, 9, and 10 as the University of Florida commit cements her legacy as one of the state's all-time great athletes. 


Father Tolton's Distance Squad Brings The Heat

It has been well-documented, the success that Father Tolton's girls distance squad has had over the last three years. After stints in Class 3 and Class 2, plus back-to-back-to-back state championships in Class 3, 4, and 5 on the cross country course, Tolton is ready to make more noise in Class 4 this weekend. 

Junior Elyse Wilmes leads the way, of course, with the top personal and season bests in the 800 and 1600. Her 2:06.97 from last year's RunningLane Championships is MO No. 4 all-time and her 2:08.92 from this year's Gary Parker Invitational is nearly 6 seconds ahead of the next closest Class 4 athlete, Pleasant Hill's Brooke Beck. Not to be outdone, her 1600 personal best of 4:49.64 from this year's Distance Night in Palatine is MO No. 9 all-time and puts her just ahead of Harrisonville's Kayleigh Norris. She should add 20 points to the Trailblazers' total on her own, but will also contribute significant legs to their championship-favorite 4x800 team (9:29.72 season best) and title-contending 4x400 team (4:01.28 season best). 

Freshman phenom Angelina Cottone has changed the game for Tolton this season, as well, and appears to be going for a distance quad in her first season. She carries personal bests of 2:19.76, 5:09.40, and 12:04.03 in the 800, 1600, and 3200 into this weekend's festivities and should be a contender for medals in all three plus the 4x800. Sophomore Makaylin Viet will also be running the 1600 and 3200, with her personal bests of 5:08.96 and 11:10.38. 

With three entries in the 1600, two each in the 800 and 3200, and first and third ranked relay teams in the 4x800 and 4x400 squads, Father Tolton has a chance at reaching 50 points solely on the backs of their distance runners. Do not count them out in the race for a team trophy, or even a team title.