CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — As a bus rolled out of the parking lot of Chillicothe High School, the windows were down and the chant could be heard from across the parking lot at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium.
“Conference Champs” was shouted over and over from the Maryville boys team, which had claimed the Midland Empire Conference championship by a slim margin on Tuesday night.
The Spoofhounds finished with 158 points, four more than Chillicothe and won its fourth-straight conference title.
The scenario of winning a championship played out like how Missouri MileSplit predicted in its virtual meet, saying the Spoofhounds would win by 4 ½.
“I did my own thing and I thought we could win by as much as 10 or as little or one,” Maryville coach Rodney Bade said. “I knew it would be tough. It was one of those things I added up the distance, that’s where we started and said if we could guarantee first or second and we have looked strong at jumps and throws and we had one throw better than we thought he might. We really strategized to do that.”
Maryville won its fourth conference title in a row – in a five-year span thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outcome of the boys title went down to the final race with the Hornets needing to win and for Maryville to finish last in the six-team race. The Spoofhounds took fourth place in the 4x400-meter relay and finished with 158 points, while Chillicothe took second and finished with 154 points.
The conference title is the 19th overall for Maryville in track and field and is the third four-peat in school history: the others were from 1997-2000 and 2009-2012.
“We have a good dynasty going,” Maryville senior distance runner Garrett Dumke said. “We look to win the conference meet every year. We came tonight and it was a close team finish but it was awesome.”
Dumke won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and was on the winning 4x800-meter relay for the Spoofhounds. The Southeast Missouri State signee set a conference record in the 3,200-meter with a time of 9:52.45 – breaking his personal best set in 2019 by two seconds.
“It was a great way to run my last conference race for Maryville,” he said. “Going into the meet was one of my goals. I just had the feel I would put it all out there. The two mile is never fun but it feels great to accomplish it.”
In the 1,600-meter, Maryville went 1-2 with Dumke winning in 4:44.05 and four seconds later Connor Blackford crossed for the Spoofhounds. Maryville also had a 1-2 finish in the 3,200 and 800-meter races.
Dumke won the 3,200 and Jag Galapin was the runner-up. In the 800, Blackford won in 2:09.11 and Galapin was the runner-up.
Dumke, Blackford and Galapin joined Cale Sterling on the 4x800-meter relay team that opened the track events with a victory in 9:05.56 – a 12-second winning margin over St. Pius X.
Maryville also got a conference title from Keaton Stone, who won the triple jump with a distance of 12.61 meters.
“It was a half meter PR; almost two feet so it definitely had me hyped … I was really hyped,” Stone said. “I had constant PR’s in about every meet so I felt like I had a decent chance based on other people, but I wasn’t expecting a two-foot PR.”
Stone was the runner-up in the pole vault and fifth in the high jump and long jump.
He was one of a handful of Spoofhounds to earn points in multiple events. Adrian McGee was sixth in the 200 and seventh in the long jump, while Spencer Willnerd was third in the shot put, fifth in the javelin and seventh in discus.
Jesus Flores was on the 4x200-meter relay with Gage Marriott, Preston Collin and McGee, which took fourth place.
Flores also took third in the high jump, fifth in the triple jump and was the runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles.
“It wasn’t my best day, but it was an OK day,” Flores said. “First year doing track and winning a conference championship was pretty cool.”
In the 300 hurdles, he finished ahead of Sterling, a runner that Bade pointed out sacrificed for the team. He pulled out of the 800 and started doing the 300 hurdles two weeks ago to try to earn points at this meet.
Other third-place finishes came from Gage Marriott in the pole vault and Beau Gillespie in the discus.
The 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay teams were both fourth. Marriott, Collin, McGee and Willnerd were on the 4x100, while Sterling, Blackford, Collin and Jake Walker were on the 4x400.