(DAVID JENKINS ~ Standard Democrat)
SIKESTON -- The inaugural Sikeston Twilight Relays had no team scores, but three local teams could come away from the meet feeling like winners.
The Saxony Lutheran boys distance runners more than held their own with the larger schools.
Central's girls distance runners also came away with three first-place finishes.
And Jackson had its usual outstanding performances from the versatile Rachel Kahle, its girls throwers and boys field events.
Brandon Etzold of Class 1 Saxony Lutheran captured the open 1,600-meter run and was the anchor for the Crusaders' winning 3,200 and 1,600 relays.
Etzold's winning time in the 1,600 was 4 minutes, 36 seconds.
Jackson's Greg Gibson was second in 4:39; and Ross Gage of Saxony Lutheran was third in 4:42.
"I was hoping to have a really good mile," Etzold said, "but the 4x800 took a little more out of me than I thought it would."
Etzold teamed with Max Wieser, Andrew Etzold and Gage to win the meet-opening 3,200 in 8:20.
The Crusaders foursome of Wieser, Andrew Etzold, Alex Jauch and Brandon Etzold captured the 1,600 relay, the final event before the weight-throwers relay, in 3:28.93.
"I asked the first guys to get us a lead because I knew Brandon had just run the mile," Saxony Lutheran coach Larry Cleair said, "and they did a great job. We can still take 10 seconds off that."
Wieser, running the opening leg, had Saxony in front at 200 meters. Andrew Etzold padded the lead in the second leg, while the final two legs came in at matching times of 52.22.
"By the 200 meters, when I saw where Max was, I was pretty confident," Cleair said.
The Crusaders hope to use competition against larger schools to help propel them to a better finish than last year's runner-up showing in Class 1.
"This is fantastic for us, and I really appreciate the fact they let us come," Cleair said. "We're at a great track with great competition, and they do a great job running this."
The Central girls mirrored Saxony's day with a win in the open 1,600 by sophomore Veronica Schabbing, who also was on one of Central's two victorious distance relay.
Schabbing won the 1,600 in 5:44, while her sister Victoria was third in 5:48, 1 second behind Notre Dame's Jessica Banda.
Veronica Schabbing teamed with Rachel Burchyett, Tiffany Mead and Brittany Moreland to win the distance medley.
Victoria Schabbing, Moreland, Burchyett and Mead won the 3,200 relay in 10:14.68.
"I feel a little better after this," Central distance assistant coach Mark Hahn said. "It's been two weeks for us since our last meet, and this is the time of season for the times because of all the work we've put in. We haven't had a chance to see that drop until tonight."
Central's 1,600 relay unit of Rita Walter, Mary Pearson, Renee Moreland and Mead finished second in 4:14.
The Tigers were stride-for-stride with Jackson until the third leg of the relay, when the Indians' Beth Barton gained a 10-yard advantage over the final 150 yards. Kahle stretched the lead immediately and coasted home.
Jackson's foursome of Barton, Landon Wachter, Heather Hileman and Kahle finished in 4:11.
Kahle also cruised to a win in the 100, the only other individual event of the meet. The senior, who is heading to Southeast Missouri State, finished in 12.03, which was better than last year's state-winning time of 12.1.
"This is the first time she's run a leg on the 4x4," Jackson coach Bob Sink said. "She could be a quarter-miler but there is so many other things she does well. She's a four-event athlete, and it helps us to have her in four open events because most times she's going to win those."
Jackson's trio of weight throwers -- Jill Rushin, Katelynn James and Amanda Peiffer -- swept both the discus relay and the shot put. Rushin, a freshman who already holds the school record in the discus, put up a throw of 124-18 to lead Jackson's team score of 339-1.
"She's going to end up being a really quality discus thrower," Sink said.
Led by Kahle, Jackson won the triple jump and long jump as well as the 100 hurdles.
Central won the pole vault and 400 relay in the girls.
Scott City's Stephanie Essner finished second to Kahle in the 100, finishing in 12.06 seconds.
Other than Saxony's three wins, top local finishers in the boys were Jackson in the pole vault and late-ending discus and high jump, and Notre Dame in distance medley.
Jackson's pole vault trio of Alex Austin, Garrett Stone and Micah Michelson totaled 35-6. Austin reached 12-6, while Stone had a personal best of 12-0.
The Bulldogs' foursome of John Unterreiner, Mark Zimmer, Dillon Klaffer and Logan Davis combined for a school-record time of 11:17.42 in the distance medley relay.
Central's boys were shut out of the first-place finishes but had three seconds.
"To be honest, this was about getting into a rhythm," Central coach Lawrence Brookins said. "We've been on ice for a couple of weeks."
See complete meet results by clicking here.