GRANDVIEW, Mo. — Simply needing to shuttle the baton around the track four times, Platte County’s senior quartet in the 4×400-meter relay decided to put on a show instead. The Pirates had already wrapped up the Suburban Conference Blue Division Championships team title on Friday night, assuming they finished the final race.
Abbie Schwieder opened with a solid lap, Bryn McGehe built a lead and Aly Anderson and Haley Luna finished off a season-best performance of 4 minutes, 9.75 seconds to close in style. The Pirates totaled 145 points in the meet to finish 10 in front of rival Kearney on a picturesque evening at Grandview High School.
Finding out Platte County had claimed just the second conference title in program history and first since 1992, Schwieder coolly indicated the hard work finally paid off for a group of talented seniors who might’ve achieved similar results last year if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It just shows that since our season got canceled, we all worked really hard with that year off, and it’s showing,” Schwieder said. “I’m really proud of everyone.”
Platte County’s last title came in 1992 when the Pirates were still in the KCI Conference. After moves to the Midland Empire Conference and then the Suburban Conference, the four high-profile seniors — one part of an elite duo of pole vaulters — plus a rising star sophomore finally brought another first-place plaque home.
There were a pair of individuals plus three relays for Platte County to claim conference championships.
Platte County sophomore Reese Pickett won both the long jump and high jump, while junior Maya Sullivan nipped Schwieder in the pole vault as the Pirates went 1-2 in that event. In addition, the 4×400, 4×800 (McGehe, Anderson, senior Jenna Jurgensmeyer and freshman Sisely Mitchell) and the 4×200 (Luna, Schwieder, junior Molly McBratney and sophomore Meah Salzman) helped them nearly sweep the relays.
“We’re getting better each week, and again, I’m so proud of everyone,” Schwieder said.
Platte County would’ve had more individual titles if not for Raytown South sophomore Zaya Akins.
Luna turned in season-bests in both the 200 (27.03) and 400 (1:00.27) but came in second in both races. However, she continues to anchor both the 4×400 and 4×200 with hopes of qualifying for the Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships in four events for the first time.
Similarly, McGehe finished second in the 800 at 2:29.58 but couldn’t quite keep pace with Smithville standout senior Lily Cutler. Anderson finished fourth in that race.
Luna, McGehe and Schwieder are the top returners from a 2019 team that started to show flashes of its potential at state two years ago.
“I think we feel (pressure), but it’s sort of like we’re used to it,” Schwieder said. “We know that it’s our role to lead our underclassmen, to lead the people in our class, as well.”
If Platte County advances on that potential this year, Sullivan and Schwieder in the pole vault will be a key.
Sullivan cleared 3.40 meters in the conference meet to claim first place, while Schwieder came in at 3.28 to easily claim second. Sullivan set the Park Hill South school record as a freshman before transferring to Platte County. Schwieder cleared 3.51 meters in the first meet this season to better her previous school record of 3.07 meters before going 3.53 in a meet at Kearney.
A few days later, Sullivan and Schwieder both cleared 3.51 meters.
“We try not to think about it because it just adds pressure to us, and we don’t need that,” said Schwieder, who originally set Platte County’s school record multiple times as a sophomore before bettering that mark early this season only for Sullivan to later match the height. “But we definitely push each other, and we help each other.”
Platte County’s strength in field events increases thanks to Pickett. In her first season due to last year’s cancelation, she claimed the high jump title at 1.57 meters — just off her career best — and long jump at 4.90 meters.
Pickett also has shown glimpses of potential in the hurdles, but Salzman has emerged as the leader there. Salzman appeared headed toward a career-best showing in the 300s on Friday before falling on the next to last hurdle and going from fifth to second. She placed third in the 100 hurdles in a season-best 16.69 earlier in the day.
Platte County senior Taylor Giger shaved almost 17 seconds off her previous season-best in the 3,200 to place third in 12:27.90.
Jurgensmeyer, Mitchell, McGehe and Anderson opened the meet with a strong showing in the 4×800 but didn’t approach their season best, but still placed first in 10:00.24 to hold off Smithville by about 2 seconds. Salzman, Schwieder, McBratney and Luna did set a season-best at 1:47.78 in the 4×200 for the Pirates, clipping Kearney in a tight race.
In the 4×400, Platte County ran the combination of Schwieder, McGehe, Anderson and Luna together for just the second time this season, and the team. The results were encouraging at 4:09.75, about 5½ seconds faster than second-place Kearney and about 8 seconds off the school record the Pirates set in Class 4 Sectional 4 competition in 2019.
Schwieder, McGehe and Luna all ran on that record-setting relay, and now, they’ll look toward the postseason for the final chances to set records and make more team history like the conference title already secured.
NOTE — An earlier version of this story indicated Maya Sullivan and Abbie Schwieder shared the school record in the pole vault. However, results from the meet at Kearney were entered incorrectly, meaning Schwieder had set a new record and still holds the mark.