Parkview High School sprinter Chris Hargrove wasn’t sure which was tougher to take on Tuesday at Plaster Stadium — his fellow competitors or the frigid weather conditions.
Hargrove was among more than 1,000 prep track athletes who endured a stinging rain and a below-freezing wind chill to take part in the 91st annual Aldo Sebben Relays at Missouri State University.
“I was expecting warm weather,” the senior said after finishing a close second in the 200 meters. “When I saw the rain this morning, I called coach and asked if the meet was canceled.”
But the conditions, while not ideal, weren’t bad enough to force event director Ron Boyce to call it off.
“There are 78 teams and 1,000 athletes here. You just can’t cancel. The athletes are very, very tough, although this is one of the worst weather-wise that we’ve had,” Boyce said.
Lamar won the boys overall title followed by Parkview, Ozark, Lebanon and Bolivar. In the girls competition, Ozark was the winner followed by Bolivar, Lincoln College Prep, Republic and Waynesville.
The day wasn’t a complete wash for Hargrove, who won the 100 earlier in the day when conditions weren’t as difficult.
“I tried to focus on getting off the blocks and finishing all the way through,” Hargrove said. “It worked in the 100 but in the 200, I tried to open my stride but I couldn’t hold my speed the last 30 meters.”
Hargrove’s coach, Jay Miller, called the conditions “pretty crazy,” but added they were the same for everybody.
“It’s a mental toughness exercise. It can be frustrating,” Miller said. “You don’t really prepare for this. These conditions make you tougher.”
One of the tough ones included Evan Craig of Catholic, who took first in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs.
Craig said the conditions weren’t too bad for him. He said the falling temperature wasn’t the issue. For him, it was the wind, which he remedied with a car-racing technique.
“I’m small, so the strategy of distance running is to get behind a taller guy and that’s what I did,” said Craig, who plans to attend Rockhurst University and play soccer. “I drafted behind a tall runner and was able to finish strong.”
Spokane’s Kailey Chapman also turned in a big meet for the Class 2 Owls. She won the 100, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles and took second in the 200. Her 47.52-second time in the 300 hurdles beat the field by nearly two seconds.
Lebanon’s Aren Martin won the 200- and 400-meter runs.
Republic girls track coach Tori Mooneyham saw a shiny silver lining greeting her after the meet. Two of her freshman runners took home plenty of medals.
Brooke Stanfield won the 200 and 400 sprints while Megan Hergesheimer won the 3,200, finished fifth in the 1,600 and ran the anchor leg of the 3,200 relay that placed fourth.
“Obviously, as a freshman, to medal here means you’ve done well,” Mooneyham said.
Hergesheimer said it was rough to run in the bitter, wet conditions and she gave family and staff a bit of a scare when she went to her knees at the end of the 3,200.
“I was out of breath and my legs were tired,” said Hergesheimer, who started running only three years ago after she trained in order to be ready for volleyball season.
Now, track and cross country are her sports and the inclement conditions didn’t faze her from doing what she loves.
“This weather doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I train in the offseason in snow, rain and sleet. If you have it, I’ve run in it.”