California High School track and field ended their season in style Friday and Saturday at the Class 3 State Championship in Jefferson City.
After failing to qualify anyone for state last season, California bounced back strong and qualified seven athletes for state this season. When it was all over, California finished the season with one all-state medalist, two ninth place finishes and one tenth place finish.
Ayden Bryant finished his junior year by winning an All-State medal for his seventh-place finish in the boys long jump with a jump of 6.74 meters.
Emma Braby finished her senior year by finishing ninth place in the girls shot put with a personal-best throw of 11.43 meters.
The girls 4x400 meter relay team of sophomore Allie Heather, freshman Tayte Higgins, sophomore Kierstyn Lawson and sophomore Hailey Rademan finished ninth place in the relay with a personal-best combined time of 4 minutes and 14.19 seconds.
Kenzleigh Goans ended her sophomore year with a tenth-place finish in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 2:26.56.
California head coach Eric Stout said California's state qualifiers had a long road to get to the state finals.
"Our last regular season meet was the Tri-County Conference Meet, which many athletes saw success in. Conference is a good preview of Districts, because our conference is so tough. Our District Meet was two hours away, and had multiple storm delays during the day. Our athletes could have packed it up, and mentally and physically checked out. They chose to stick it out, and while there were numerous personal records that didn't end up advancing to Sectionals, we had an extremely successful meet. In 2022, only one athlete advanced from Districts. This year, 10 athletes advanced to the Sectionals Meet. We had seven athletes in four events advance from Sectionals to the State Meet. At State, you must get top eight to medal and earn All-State recognition. We had one medal with a seventh-place finish, two ninth-place finishes, and one 10th-place finish. Those athletes gave everything they had and endured a long season," Stout said. "We are so proud of each of them and how they represented California in the State Meet. It's an experience they will never forget, and hopefully will get to experience again, as six of the seven State qualifiers are underclassmen. Kenzleigh Goans broke the California High School Girls 800-meter record at the Sectionals Meet in Mexico. The 22-year-old record, previously held by Stephanie Cook in 2001 with a time of 2:27.11, was broken by Kenzleigh Goans as she qualified for the State Track Meet with a time of 2:25.67."
Stout said the 2023 season has been one of his best seasons for California in years because of the progress that was made from start to finish. Stout is hopeful all his athletes who are returning next year will continue to improve their physical health in the offseason to pick up where California left off in 2024.
"We're extremely proud of our athletes on a great track and field season. Many athletes improved as the season progressed, and it showed through the results. Throughout the season, our coaching staff emphasized proper nutrition, hydration and sleep habits so our athletes could perform their best. The other major point we wanted all athletes to do was to compete against themselves and set new personal records," Stout said. "If you beat the time you previously got, you are getting better, which is what matters most. We will continue to emphasize this so our athletes can continue to see great results, and stay healthy along the way. Most of all, I want to thank our coaches and athletes for such a fun season. We truly have a great group of students that make each practice and meet enjoyable. I'm excited to see the kids compete in other sports as well."