Platte County junior Andrew Early runs in second place during the 3,200-meter race Friday during the Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships at Grandview High School. ROSS MARTIN/PC Preps Extra

Early’s runnerup finishes highlight Platte County’s 2nd-place showing at conference

Pirates’ only individual title comes from 4×200-meter relay, but development is apparent as postseason approaches for almost entirely new roster from 2 years ago.
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Platte County hung around the top of the team standings for most of Friday’s Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships at Grandview High School. Ultimately, the Pirates just didn’t have enough to claim the top spot, but the depth and development of a mostly unknown roster coming into the season showed.

MAC MOORE/Special to PC Preps Extra
Platte County junior Trevor Scott crosses the finish line in the 100-meter dash Friday during the Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships at Grandview High School.

Despite finishing with only one conference title, Platte County finished second in the final standings. Kearney took the top spot with 178 points, while the Pirates were 51 back at 127 in the runnerup spot.

“I’m pretty happy with that. We have to fix some things up for districts, but I think at districts it will be a lot closer than it was tonight,” Platte County junior Andrew Early said.

Early accounted for runnerup finishes in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs for two of the best individual showings for Platte County. However, the Pirates didn’t score enough team points in field events to keep pace, and the 4×400 relay faded to a fifth-place finish and a botched handoff kept the 4×100 team from a potential win in that race.

Platte County’s 4×200 team of senior Jaden Burnett, juniors Chandler Steinmeir and Cole Rhoden and sophomore Carter Salzman took first earlier in the meet. The quartet set a season-best at 1 minutes, 32.25 seconds to knock nearly a second and a half off the previous fastest time to hold off Smithville in the race. That type of finish shows the consistency of the sprints, but juniors Victor Sewankambo (third, 11.64 seconds) and Trevor Scott (fourth, season-best 11.66 seconds) were the top individual finishers in sprint races.

In the 400, Platte County senior Jaxon Crowley set a personal-best and shaved another second off from his last race, placing fourth in 53.10.

MAC MOORE/Special to PC Preps Extra
Platte County senior Blake Bjustrom runs his leg of the 4×800-meter relay during the Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships on Friday at Grandview High School.

“I think a lot of teams have some very, very fast kids, but they struggle with having depth on their team,” Early said. “The relays are definitely an important part. We have some really strong relays, some really smart runners out there.”

Long distance proved big for Platte County with the 4×800 seniors Blake Bjustrom and Andrew Plymell, junior Jace Trimble and Gavin Jenks just clipping Platte County’s season-best time in the event. They finished in 8:47.04 but were still off a faster pace for champion Kearney.

Following that, Early ran aggressive in both of the longest distance races. He came in at 4:46.73 in the 1,600 to just miss a season-best and then led multiple laps in the 3,200 before giving way to Ruskin’s Kayden Crigger, who also won the 1,600.

However, Platte County came up with important points in the races with freshman Andrew Johnson placing third in the 3,200 in 10:40.86 — a PR by more than 26 seconds.

“I was happy with the 2-mile,” Early said. “(Crigger) is a really good runner so I was happy to stick with him for a while.”

One of only a handful of key returners from the 2019 season who missed all of last year due to the pandemic, Steinmeir came back from an off day in the 110 hurdles to place second in the 300 hurdles. His 40.48 was just off his season-best and behind only Smithville junior Rhett Foster (39.78) in what was a competitive top-four finish with Grandview’s Jalen McGee and Kearney’s Luke Noland both coming in behind Steinmeir by less than a half second.

ROSS MARTIN/PC Preps Extra
Platte County freshman Andrew Johnson runs in a pack during the 3,200-meter race at the Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships on Friday at Grandview High School.

Steinmeier has run 40.05 in the event this season but has yet break the 40-second barrier.

Platte County senior Joey Schultz, a sectional qualifier as a sophomore, was the top performer in the field. He set a season-best of 1.92 meters in the high jump and finished just behind Smithville senior Dante Cox (1.97 meters). Schultz also claimed third in the triple jump at 12.65 meters behind Grandview standouts McGee and Carter Phillips.

Overall, Platte County stacked points in the jumping events with sophomore Chandavian Bradley third in the high jump (1.77 meters), and Schultz finishing just ahead of senior Kevin Hughes (11.70 meters) and Bradley (11.66 meters) in a 3-4-5 finish for the Pirates in the triple jump. Sewankambo posted a season-best 6.26 in the long jump to finish third with Rhoden (6.04) and sophomore Zay’Quan Hall also scoring points in fifth and sixth.

Salzman set a season-best in the pole vault at 3.20 meters to also finish third in that event for Platte County.

In the throws, Platte County sophomore Cade Fowler continued his late-season push, twice setting a personal best and finishing as runnerup in the event at 44.42 meters. That leaves him about 5 meters off of Dakota Schmidt’s school record.

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