It was common to find schools making their third consecutive appearances at the Missouri Relays on Friday and Saturday.
What was a little unusual was to see a high school team from Wisconsin making such an appearance.
Waukesha West High School brought a strong contingent once again to the sixth annual meet hosted by the MU track and field team.
The annual trip has become a highlight for the athletes, who have made it all three years, and they always are sure to stop in at Shakespeare’s Pizza and head to the MU Bookstore to buy shirts and sweaters.
Waukesha began coming after Serena Ramsey, a senior on the MU track team and the daughter of Waukesha coach Chris Ramsey, had attended MU for a year and told her dad he should bring the team down to compete.
That led to Elizabeth Robe, a freshman on the MU track team, becoming the second Wolverine to choose the Tigers.
That kind of exposure to the university is something MU coach Rick McGuire said is an added bonus to having so many high schools attend the meet.
He said his focus and the focus of his staff is to make sure the athletes they coach, and not the ones they might coach in the future, get their undivided attention and are put in positions during the meet that will help them reach their goals at the end of the season.
“We’re not doing anything to try and look good, and we’re not doing anything to try and impress a particular recruit,” McGuire said.
Although it would be easy to give certain high school athletes preferential starting lanes or special visits with coaches, McGuire said the meet’s purpose never has been to serve as a recruiting tool.
The side-effects of attending the meet, such as seeing how the coaches support the current athletes, do sometimes make an impact on recruits.
“If we do really good for them, then other people will want to come and let us do really good for them,” McGuire said.
MU’s athletes helped show the recruits how much good the coaches have done for them with their performance in the meet.
The highlights of the meet for MU were the men’s and women’s 4x800 relay teams’ performances.
Both teams set new meet records in their events, and did so in dominating fashion.
The women’s team, featuring Ashley Patten, Kristin Hansen, Nicole Johnson and Trisa Nickoley, ran the relay in 8:58.79.
The men’s team, made up of Tipper O’Brien, Wade Sousa, Marcus Mayes and Jimmie Jones, finished in a time of 7:43.29.
The Tigers’ Jason Morris, hammer throw, and Melanie Uher and Bobby Musil, discus, qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships with throws in the their respective events.
MU had 11 event champions during the meet.
Rock Bridge and Hickman had strong performances as well in the high school meets.
Hickman’s Kylie Loch won the 100- and 300-meter girls’ hurdles events, while Jabarbara Jennings won the girls’ 400 meter run, long jump and triple jump.
Rock Bridge won the boys’ distance medley and the Bruins’ Hannah Terwelp won the girls’ shot put with a throw of 11.54 meters.