JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The South Holt/Nodaway-Holt track and field team wrapped up a very successful season and the Class 1 State Championships this weekend, but also showed why they are going to be very dangerous next season as well.
Both of the Spartan top performers at the state meet were juniors with Reagan Morris leading the boys’ team and Olivia Richards representing the girls’ team.
“Now those guys are going to jump into leadership roles and they have already done it,” Spartan coach Jonn Casey said. “Today, they proved it and they are going to go on and be our next captains, leaders and champions, hopefully.”
The word that Casey loves to associate with both Richards and Morris is ‘gamer.’ What Casey means when he says that is; when the stage is the biggest, that is when they tend to rise to the occasion.
Morris displayed that trait by earning the best finish for the Spartans with a third-place finish in the 400-meter dash.
“I can’t be any more excited,” Morris said. “I qualified fifth, so they are telling you, ‘Oh, you should get fifth.’ Moving up two spots is a really big deal for me. Since my freshman year, I’ve just really wanted to medal in the 400 and make the finals at state.”
Qualifying fifth was also a milestone.
“Just knowing that I was going to medal was a big deal to me because I’m going to final medal in the race I’ve been trying to medal in all through high school,” Morris said. “To take third is just amazing.”
After qualifying fifth and despite the rain and miserable conditions on Saturday, Morris was able to climb the rankings and run a 51.86 to place third and pick up his first individual medal at state.
“That was an incredible run that he had,” Casey said. “It is just pouring down rain— I make them run in the rain — and we are down here warming up and I say, ‘Hey, its raining, that is just what we need. We are the toughest team out here. Rain sleet, snow, we don’t care. We love adversity.’ When he was in the blocks, it started rain harder and I yelled, ‘This is perfect.’ He just took off and flew.”
Morris adds the medal to the fourth and sixth he earned last year as a member of Spartan relay teams. In addition to competing in the 400-meters, he took 16th in the 200-meter dash and along with seniors Cole Alloway and Wes Williams and junior Eric Ottman took 11th in the 4x200-meter relay.
Richards was the lone representative for the Spartan girls’ team, but she was able to pick up a medal for second-straight year in the triple jump.
Richards improved on her distance from last season when 34-foot-8 earned her a third-place medal. This season she jumped 34-foot-10, but ended up in fifth against an improved field.
“It means a lot to me because I just keep trying to get better and better every single year,” Richards said.
While Richards was happy to receive another medal at the state meet, she is already looking forward to climbing back higher on the podium as a senior.
“She has gone from being a freshman and just trying to medal to if she is not first, she is mad,” Casey said. “That is a big step to take if you are going to be a champion.”
In addition to the triple jump, Richards came just an inch and a half short of another medal in the long jump. She finished with a 15-foot-6.75 to take 10th.
“I’m extremely excited with how my season went and everything,” Richards said. “I managed to break some records, win some conference and district medals and I made it to state. I really couldn’t ask for more more than that.”
With Richards and Morris back to lead the team next year, the Spartans certainly have a bright future.
“Especially knowing that if I can make it this far, I can just push myself a little bit further to achieve my goals and be able to get on the podium more and more,” Richards said.