After winning a pair of district championships and qualifying for sectionals in three events at the Class 1 District 3 track and field meet at School of the Ozarks on Saturday afternoon, Blue Eye High School freshman Riley Arnold wasn’t in the mood for celebrating.
Her final event was the 3,200 meters, where she wasn’t seriously challenged, finishing in 11:54.24 – nearly a full second ahead of teammate and second-place finisher Braylynn Siercks.
But the time left Arnold hungry for improvement. She was aiming for something in the 11:44 range, which would seed her second in the state this season and would have been fast enough to win the state championship in Class 1 last spring.
“I’d like to get some more (personal bests), but that’s how it goes,” Arnold said. “At the end of the day, qualifying is qualifying.”
Arnold will be joined at sectionals in the 3,200 by Siercks, who finished in 12:49.63 on Saturday, and in the 1,600 by twin sister Avery, who finished in 5:41.49. Riley Arnold’s time in winning the 1,600 was 5:30.18.
The dominance by the Blue Eye girls in the relay events helped the Lady Bulldogs win the district team title, holding off School of the Ozarks.
Blue Eye won all four relay events, with senior Taylor Arnold joining Avery Arnold, Riley Arnold and Siercks in winning the 4x800, in a time of 10:58.81.
The other relay victories came in the 4x400, with Taylor Arnold, Avery Arnold, Kenzie Hobbs and Maddie Box finishing in a time of 4:27.39; the 4x100 relay team of Kyla Warren, Maddie Box, Kohnnar Patton and Kenzie Hobbs turning in a time of 53.40; and the 4x200 foursome of Box, Hobbs, Patton and Warren finishing in 1:53.70.
Being able to run in relays with her sisters has been a bright spot for Riley Arnold during her freshman season.
“It’s really amazing, for all of us to be able to compete in so many events,” she said. “It’s been awesome.”
Warren, another freshman for the Lady Bulldogs, also qualified in two individual events and will run in the maximum four events at Saturday’s sectional meet in Carl Junction. Warren finished third in the 100 meters, in a time of 13.00 seconds, and her time of 27.48 seconds was good for third place in the 200 meters. Both of those times were personal bests.
“I just came in with the mindset of being ready for this,” Warren said. “I’ve been preparing this whole last week in the weight room and lifting.
“It’s just about getting better each day, doing my best and hoping for the best. I’ve still got three years ahead of me, and I feel like I can improve a lot more.”
Other sectional-qualifying performances for the Blue Eye girls came from in the high jump from Patton, who cleared 4 feet, 10 inches, to finish fourth; in the 200 meters from Hobbs (second, 1:05.06) and Olivia Labrier (fourth, 1:06.85), and in the 800 meters from Avery Arnold (first, 2:30.78) and Taylor Arnold (third, 2:35.87).
The Blue Eye boys will send three individuals to the district meet in five events. Chris Lemp was third in both the 800 (2:12.18) and the 1,600 (4:51.92), and Andrew Mitchell finished fourth in both the discus (106 feet) and the shot put (38 feet, 8.5 inches).
Ryan Cardenzana added a fourth-place showing in the 3,200 (10:39.87), helping the Bulldogs to a fifth-place team finish.