For as long as she’s been running competitively, Willard High School freshman Chloe Andrews has wanted to win the 1,600 meter race at the Jason Pyrah Invitational.
And after literally running away with a first-place finish on Thursday, she now has a plaque to show for it.
Every year, Willard track gives out an award to the top girls’ and boys’ finishers in the 1,600 meter races, which was one of Willard legend Jason Pyrah’s specialties.
Pyrah, a 1987 graduate of Willard, was a two-time Olympian distance runner and was a six-time state champion in a variety of track and field events.
“This plaque means a lot to me because I wanted to represent my school well,” Andrews said. “His name comes up a lot because of his records and accomplishments. I always came to watch the meets while I was in middle school so I’ve known about the plaque for a while.
“I wanted to go for the plaque today and my strategy was to draft off the other girls, pull ahead on the last lap and finish strong.
“I’m really proud.”
Andrews’ win helped her team to a seventh-place finish, but it was the Republic girls who ran away with the team title with a total of 119 points. Nixa’s girls took second place (75.5), with Stockton finishing third (72.5).
Nixa’s boys took home top team honors with 128.5 points, edging out Webb City (94) for second while host Willard (92) finished in third place.
Nixa junior Taylor Steven also was motivated by the Pyrah plaque in the boys’ 1,600, entering and ultimately winning the event (4:35.79) strictly for the award.
“I don’t run the mile much, but I wanted to get in the event and win that plaque,” Steven said. “All the best competition comes here to race that event and I wanted to race the best.”
Republic freshman Brooke Stanfield took home top medalist honors in all four events (100, long jump, 200 and 400) she entered on Thursday.
How does she do it?
“I drink a lot of milk,” Stanfield said jokingly. “I don’t know if that has something to do with it.”
Stanfield won the 100 meters with a time of 26.66, beating Kailey Chapman of Spokane (27.47), with Deambra Pilkington of Fair Grove (28.20) third.
“That was one of my closest races yet,” Stanfield said.
“I got out of the blocks slow and I really tried to keep up with (Chapman) and for a second I thought she had me.
“Nearing the finish, she was right there next to me and I just gave it all I had and barely beat her.”
Like most competitors, Stanfield found the temperatures in the 40s and high winds to be among the biggest obstacles of the day.
“I go into each race with the idea that I’m going to do my best and whatever that is, as long as I try my hardest, that’s good enough,” Stanfield said.
“But today I was trying to not pull anything and get through each race healthy. With this weather that’s really what I was thinking.
“Because you can’t feel your toes or anything else and it’s really hard to even get loose to run.”