JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Reese Pickett came agonizingly close to a memorable and precedent-setting weekend in the Class 5 Missouri State Track and Field Championships.
Instead, Platte County’s senior star came out on the wrong side of two different tiebreakers in individual events Saturday at Jefferson City High School’s Licklider Stadium. She entered the two-day meet as the first in program history to qualify for state in the triple jump, long jump and high jump — boys or girls — making her second appearance in each and looking for her first medal since her sophomore year in Class 4.
Pickett ended up 11th in Friday’s triple jump preliminaries then wound up ninth and one spot off the podium in Saturday’s long jump and tied for 10th in the high jump to conclude her career. She went to state in the long jump and high jump in 2021 and the triple jump as a junior. The only prior medal came when she placed fifth in high jump two years earlier.
Platte County also brought the 4×800-meter relay of juniors Sisely Mitchell and Carmen Gentilia, sophomore Madison Palmer and freshman Addie Ayers plus first-time field event qualifiers in sophomore Addy Schlake (discus) and senior TK Lawson (shot put). The Pirates didn’t end up with a top-eight finisher but turned in memorable postseasons to maximize the qualifiers and gain valuable experience for the returns.
Only Pickett and Lawson graduate.
Despite not coming away with a medal in Platte County’s first two seasons in the state’s largest class, Pickett exits as the school-record holder in the triple jump (11.23 meters) and with top-five marks in her other two events, leaving a legacy as one of if not the best all-around jumper the Pirates have ever had despite losing out on her freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelation.
Pickett only picked up the triple jump the past two years and nearly set the school record in her very first competition. She continued to chase Chandrika Brewton’s mark of 10.91 meters from from 2008 until late in the season when she blew past the 11-meter mark to win the Suburban Conference White Division title ahead of the postseason.
After winning the District 8 championship and placing third at Sectional 4, Pickett continued to chase that form. State allows for all 16 competitors to take three attempts in field events with the top nine advancing to finals for three more. Pickett hit a mark of 10.56 meters on her first try, 10.48 meters on her second and then scratched her last. She was ninth after the opening round but ended up 11th and just 10 centimeters away from the finals. Her school-record mark would have placed fourth at state.
Pickett needed to quickly move past any disappointment from the late afternoon showing to prepare for the morning long jump on Saturday.
Reese Pickett didn’t necessarily put pressure on herself across all three events.
Yet, Platte County’s senior star provided a sense of symmetry with a pair of third-place finishes and a fourth Saturday in the Class 5 Sectional 4 meet at North Kansas City District Activities Complex. Pickett earned qualification to the Class 5 Missouri State Track and Field Championships in the long jump, triple jump and high jump — possibly a first in program history while facing a level of competition only seen during the past two seasons. Even with a bit of disappointment, she navigated the busy second weekend of the postseason in a much different fashion from last spring.
As a junior, Pickett won a pair of district titles but then only advanced to state in the triple jump. She appeared to do just that, going 5.43 meters on her third and final attempt of preliminaries to set a personal-best and move into second all-time for Platte County behind Tori Farr. The mark briefly put her in fifth, and she went into final sixth.
However, the 5.43 meters held up as her best, and she eventually faded to a tie for eighth with Fort Osage’s Jocelyn Nunez. Incidentally, both competitors went 5.43 meters on the third attempt and wound up deadlocked there, but the tiebreaker goes to the second-longest jump, and Nunez’s 5.42 was unbeatable in that regard, leaving Pickett agonizingly out of the medal spots.
Pickett then rebounded again in the high jump, an event where she has shown remarkable consistency. After missing her opening attempt at 1.51 meters, she cleared on her second try and then survived 1.56 meters by going over on her third and final attempt. She missed on three straight jumps at 1.61 meters, which would have been a career-best height.
In fact, Pickett set her PR at 1.58 meters at state as a sophomore and did not match that during her final two years. She still sat in a six-way tie at 1.56 meters, but the opening miss ended up being the difference. Troy Buchanan’s Mya Robinson took seventh solo on the tiebreakers, while Ruskin’s Ellis Cohen and Westminster Christian’s Aunika Groat tied for eighth with both taking home medals because they cleared 1.51 meters on the first attempt.
In addition to the two tiebreakers from this weekend, Pickett was 10th in the Class 4 state long jump preliminaries as a sophomore and 12th in the triple jump preliminaries as a junior in Class 5.
Lawson also wrapped her career, coming in 13th in Saturday’s shot put preliminaries. She set her mark of 11.03 meters on the second of three attempts with 11.26 the ninth-place distance needed to advance to the finals.
As a first-time qualifier, Lawson advanced out of districts with a career-best effort of 11.35 meters — the second-best mark in program history — and then placing fourth at sectionals to earn her first and only state appearance.
Schlake also moved into second-place on Platte County’s career discus charts in the postseason and placed 12th in Friday morning’s preliminaries. In what ended up a minor measuring dispute between coaches and officials, she appeared to break her PR on the second of three attempts only for a remeasurement to drop her back. This occurred for more than one competitor.
The previous two weeks Schlake set personal-bests at 36.17 meters at districts (fourth) and then 36.80 meters at sectionals (third). Had she matched the previous week’s performance, Schlake would have medaled sixth.
Outside of Pickett, only Mitchell — lead runner for the 4×800 — brought prior state experience. She qualified in Class 5 as a sophomore in both the 1,600 (16th) and 3,200 (13th) but also earned a spot in the 4×800 as a freshman, running the second leg for the Pirates’ fifth-place team in Class 4.
Platte County almost completely retooled this year’s version of the longest relay and cut almost 30 seconds during the first two weekends of the postseason. The Pirates weren’t able to maintain that track and regressed slightly in Friday’s 16-team final, placing 13th in 10:08.40. After enduring a hip injury early in the year, Mitchell never regained the individual form from her sophomore season when she won District 8 titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 and placed seventh this year at Sectional 4 in the 1,600.
However, Mitchell became the key opening leg for Platte County, and Gentilia’s late sprint last week helped the Pirates claim fourth advance with a season-best of 9:51.65 — the third-best time in program history. However, they would have needed not only a school record but another 10-second drop to medal this past weekend.
Mitchell put Platte County in 13th, and Ayers, Palmer and Gentilia mostly maintained from there with little movement in a race that provided a both a disappointing result but important experience for a unit that could come back intact and improved next year. Gentilia opted out of soccer midway through this season to focus on distance running, while Ayers and Palmer earned roles as the group gelled late in the season.