The Class 3 and 4 state high school track and field championships take place this weekend at Lincoln University’s Dwight Reed Stadium in Jefferson City.
Hickman and Rock Bridge are among 80 high schools to send representatives to the two-day competition that was planned to begin at 11 a.m. but delayed due to rainy weather.
Hickman coach Steve Kissane said he is thrilled at the opportunity his athletes have.
“We’re proud of all our students who qualified,” said Kissane, whose team will be competing in nine events. “It’s an unbelievable achievement.”
Rock Bridge coach Neal Blackburn, who has athletes competing in 10 events, echoed those setiments.
“I tell my kids not to take it for granted,” he said. “You are one of only 16 chosen (in each event).”
Hickman and Rock Bridge athletes produced some of their best performances of the season at sectionals last weekend.
“Last weekend was our best 4 x 400 relay time,” Kissane said. “In almost every event, our times get better as the season goes on.”
Coach Blackburn agreed the long season doesn’t hurt times.
“All of our athletes improve with the season,”
he said. “We train in such a way that they can run fastest towards the end.”
Both schools have several athletes returning to the state meet, and that leadership ability is something the teams are grateful for.
One such athlete is Lauren Borduin, who is the defending 800-meter run champion.
“Lauren is an incredible runner,” Blackburn said with a smile. “It will be challenging for her with only an hour break inbetween the mile and the 800, but we all expect one of her best times of the season.”
With the season winding down, both schools insist that their rivalry is as well.
“We wish Hickman the best,” Blackburn said. “It goes both ways, we would love to see each other succeed.”
Kissane agreed that the rivalry is not on their minds.
“We can’t go into state focusing on Rock Bridge, there is too much good competition.”
Even with all the positive excitement surrounding the teams, Kissane said it will be a bittersweet finish.
“This a terrific group to work with, we are so blessed to have them,” he said. “For every one person that did make it, there are 10 more that deserved it just as much. We will be back.”