Platte County senior Sisely Mitchell comes toward the finish line in the 800-meter race during the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School in Independence. ROSS MARTIN/PC Preps Extra

Mitchell ready to chase individual all-state honors, return to state podium in 4×800 relay

Platte County takes breakthrough contingent of qualifiers out of Sectional 4 seeking 1st Class 5 all-state finish in 3rd season since moving up to Class 5.

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Sisely Mitchell goes into the final two races of an accomplished career with legacy established.

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Platte County freshman Kelly Bullano throws the javelin during the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School in Independence.

However, Platte County’s senior star also knows the stakes in this weekend’s state meet. Mitchell impressively claimed the Class 5 Sectional 4 title in the 800-meter race and ran the lead leg for a 4×800-meter relay that posted a school record with a runnerup finish.

Mitchell can complete a career circuit Friday and Saturday in the Class 5 MSHSAA Track and Field Championships as part of a breakthrough contingent of Platte County qualifiers. The Pirates placed sixth in the final team standings at Sectional 4, and in addition to Mitchell, senior Carmen Gentilia (1,600), junior Addy Schlake (discus), sophomore Adi Benninghoff (100 hurdles) and freshman Kelly Bullano (javelin) also advanced to state in individual events. Bullano set another school record in the process.

The 4×800 included Mitchell, Gentilia, junior Alexia Myer and sophomore Addie Ayers.

Platte County continues striding toward an end to the third season since moving up to Class 5 and continues to chase the first top-eight finish in that span. Mitchell went to state as a freshman as part of a 4×800 relay that placed fifth in Class 4, and the following year, she qualified as an individual in both the 1,600 and 3,200. The quest to earn Class 5 all-state honors continues, having added a third individual event to her resume.

Mitchell put a bigger focus on distance running as a sophomore, and she developed into a three-time all-state performer in cross country and finished her career with Platte County’s school record time for a 5k. Her final chance at an individual top-eight state finish in track now comes in an event that became a focus during the course of a standout senior season.

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Platte County sophomore Addie Ayers runs her leg of the 4×800-meter relay during the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School in Independence.

In addition to running the opening leg of the 4×800, Mitchell chased and erased the school record in the open 800 late in the season, setting the mark of 2 minutes, 16.18 seconds in the Suburban Conference White Division Championships. Elizabeth Robbins had held the mark since winning a Class 3 state title in 2:17.13.

Mitchell almost bested that time again on Saturday with a gutsy sprint to the finish.

Lee’s Summit West junior Adee Broesder went to the front on the second lap, but Mitchell pushed to the outside and finished in 2:17.16 while looking comfortable. Broesder came to the line in 2:17.26, unable to hold off Mitchell’s late charge.

Mitchell’s day started with just as impressive of a performance. In the 4×800, she continued to run the first leg and staked Platte County to a sizable lead. St. Teresa’s Academy went to first during Ayers’ leg, and the Pirates were in fourth after Myer finished laps five and six of the race.

That left Gentilia, who turned in a 2:17.40 800 split and closed late to pass St. Teresa’s anchor.

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Platte County senior Carmen Gentilia runs in the 1,600-meter race during the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School in Independence.

Lee’s Summit West surged to the win during legs three and four, but Platte County came in at 9:38.95. Gentilia leaned to the line, and the Pirates’ time ended up about 2 1/2 seconds better than the prior school record of 9:41.54 set at state in 2017.

A year earlier, Gentilia ran an inspired anchor leg at sectionals to claim the fourth and final 4×800 state spot out of Sectional 4.

Platte County’s team of Mitchell, Gentilia, Ayers and junior Madison Palmer finished 13th in Class 5. All four returned this year, but Myer, a first-year contributor after transferring into the district, eventually supplanted Palmer, who continued to serve as an alternate for a deep group with options. Different mixes of those five were close to the school record multiple times this season before dropping the mark Saturday.

Gentilia also earned her first individual state berth, continuing rapid development over the past 1 1/2 seasons since giving up soccer to focus distance runnings. With only six runners in the 1,600, she finished a solid fourth (5:29.41) behind a top-three pack after setting a PR in the event a week earlier while placing fourth at District 8 (5:18.86).

After claiming the 800 title, Mitchell went into the 3,200 expecting to compete for a state berth in a second individual event. However, she completed the fifth and sixth laps in third before fading back to fifth, a spot she held at the end of the race while finishing in 11:55.16 — more than 16 seconds out of fourth.

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Platte County sophomore Adi Benninghoff runs in the 100-meter hurdles race during the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School in Independence.

Mitchell finished 13th in the 3,200 and 16th in the 1,600 at Class 5 state as a sophomore but only went in the 4×800 as a junior. This year, she runs the 800 on Friday afternoon, while the 4×800 will be Saturday morning.

Like Gentilia, Benninghoff reached Sectional 4 for the first time. She developed the technique and step pattern needed to make a big jump in the hurdles as a freshman and continued her breakout throughout this season.

Benninghoff finished in under 16 seconds for the sixth time this season on Saturday, posting a 15.69 to finish solidly in fourth. She ran 15.64 at District 8 in a runnerup showing, 11 days after she a PR at 15.56 at conference, that gave her the No. 3 seed time for Sectional 4.

However, Minnetonka senior Jada Calbert ran much faster Saturday than the previous week at districts to claim third, while Benninghoff held off Lee’s Summit West junior Sydney Furnell by nearly a full quarter of a second for the final state spot.

Schlake and Bullano took turns supporting each other and sharing in successful efforts.

Now a two-time state qualifier, Schlake started strong and ultimately finished third at 39.96 meters, a mark that came on her second of four throws. She fouled on three attempts at District 8 and sneaked into the Sectional 4 field with a fourth-place finish.

Schlake opened with a throw of 38.68 meters Saturday to immediately go to second, and she never went blo third.

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Platte County junior Addy Schlake throws the discus during the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School in Independence.

This year’s postseason looked drastically different after Schlake set the school record in the event at 41.57 meters during April’s Licklider Relays, like the upcoming state meet held at Jefferson City High School. Her marks on Saturday were her best since that performance, which erased the mark of 40.28 meters Kylie Guther had held since 2013.

Last year, Schlake did not advance out of prelims at state, finishing 12th with a mark of 35.69 meters. However, she had set PRs at the time at districts and sectionals just to make the field.

Schlake holds the No. 3 qualifying distance, which doesn’t come from PRs — only the top distance from sectionals. Her season-best and school-record mark of 41.57 ranks second for all of Class 5.

Bullano set a school record for the third time in her standout inaugural season and holds the No. 13 best distance for Class 5 going into state. On her first throw at Sectional 4, she established the new best distance in program history by a wide margin at 41.03 meters and immediately put herself in second place.

The final three throws did not approach the same distance, but Bullano finished third. She set the school record for the first time during a freshman-only meet during the regular season then bettered that while finishing second at District 8 with a mark of 37.52 meters.

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Platte County freshman Adi Kern clears a bar in the pole vault competition during the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School in Independence.

Bullano threw almost 3 1/2 meters further Saturday and became just the second in program history to qualify for state in the event at Platte County and the first in Class 5. Jaycie Stubbs made the Class 4 field in 2016 as a freshman and placed 14th.

Platte County freshman Adi Kern also competed at sectionals in a field event but finished eighth in a strong pole vault field. She cleared the opening height of 2.44 meters on her third and final attempt and then went over 2.59 and 2.74 meters, which matched the bar cleared that helped her win a tiebreaker for fourth-place at District 8.

Kern set a season-best of 2.75 meters at the Platte County Invitational late last month and was just 1 centimeter off of that each of the final two weekends.

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