COLUMBIA — His list of accomplishments wasn't the longest. His ovation from fans wasn't the loudest. But Missouri senior Chris Davis' smile was the widest when he was recognized after the Tom Botts Invitational on Saturday.
When his name was called among the other seniors, Davis walked toward his coaches with a smile that could be seen from the opposite end of the track. Then he watched, with the same smile, as the rest of his senior teammates were recognized.
"Mostly I was thinking about the challenges that I've been able to overcome," Davis said. "Even today, I didn't do nearly as well as I wanted to in the 400 hurdles, but I was able to talk to some people and bounce back with a great last leg in the 4x400."
Davis finished in sixth place in the 400 hurdles and ran the last leg for Missouri in a first place finish in the 4x400. He trailed Illinois senior Daniel Jones by a few strides going into that final leg but passed Jones on the homestretch to give Missouri the win.
"That's kind of been Chris's thing," Missouri sprints coach Derrick Peterson said. "Any time we need a real strong last leg on a relay, Chris is our go-to man. I've seen him do it time and time again. "
The victory came in the last event of the day and sealed a meet title for the Missouri men's team. The men finished 26 points ahead of Illinois. The women's team took the title as well, 28 points ahead of Indiana State.
"I just really wanted to run a smart race, and I got out and I didn't want to make too many drastic moves," Davis said. "I knew the wind was at my back on the backstretch, and I knew I was gonna have a nice little wind to go against on the homestretch, so I just really wanted to save up for that."
At the Missouri Relays last weekend, Davis won the 400 hurdles and the 4x400.
"Any good word you can think of describes him," senior Mark Hughes said. "He's a hard worker, phenomenal sprinter, just a great all-around guy in general."
Hughes is a member of the 4x400 relay, as well as the 4x100 relay that also took first place on Saturday. Hughes also took fifth in the 400 meter dash.
Three other senior men had strong performances on Saturday. Lars Rise won the javelin throw, Brian Hancock won the pole vault and Chris Holly finished fourth in the hammer throw.
Peterson said the team will miss more than just their ability and leadership when they graduate.
"Those are the guys that keep everybody else relaxed and having fun," Peterson said. "I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."
The MU track and field team's next competition will be at Georgia on April 23.