Notre Dame's boys 3,200 relay team has quietly become one of the fastest distance relay teams in the state this season.
With a pair of strong 800 runners along with a pair of top-notch distance runners, the Bulldogs have an almost unbeatable quartet in Austin Critchlow, Jason Delgado, Sam Montgomery and Ryan Roggow.
The Bulldogs' 3,200 team also qualified for the state meet last year, but the team's all-state dreams were dashed when the baton was dropped on the first exchange, causing Notre Dame to finish 13th.
"We were seeded sixth, and we knew we could get to the winner's stand," Notre Dame coach Bill Davis recalled. "It was just a war zone that first exchange."
The Bulldogs returned three runners from that team and came into this season with thoughts of redemption. That chance will come today when Notre Dame hits the Dwight T. Reed Stadium track in Jefferson City, Mo., for the Class 3 state meet.
"I think we were all definitely hungry to get back," Critchlow said.
The Bulldogs have won all but one of their 12 races in the 3,200 this year. The only loss came to last year's state champion, Potosi, at the district meet. Notre Dame avenged that loss on Saturday with a sectional victory.
"Our goal was to try to go through the season undefeated," Davis said.
Notre Dame enters the state meet seeded first. Potosi will once again challenge the Bulldogs, and Jennings and Ladue also should provide strong tests.
"I guess we're as ready as we'll ever be," Montgomery said. "I think we all feel we've put in the work we needed to, and now it's just one more big day."
With its track and field program only its third year, the 3,200 relay team could become Notre Dame's first state champion.
Critchlow said whether they win or not, he believes Notre Dame has really opened some people's eyes.
"I think we've show a lot of people we're a team to be reckoned with in any case," he said.
Bryce Willen will also make the trip for Notre Dame in the pole vault. Willen had a disappointing meet on Saturday, finishing fourth.
"He's got a really good shot if he vaults like he has all season," Davis said. "He should be in the top eight."
Katie Daniel, who set school records in the 100 and 300 hurdles at the sectional meet, is Notre Dame's only female qualifier. Daniel finished third in the 100 hurdles and second in the 300.
"I feel she can get through in both of them," Davis said.
Perryville's Dobbelare will compete in four events
Perryville senior Kyle Dobbelare won the Class 3 long jump title his sophomore season and, after an injury-plagued junio year, looks primed to win another state crown.
Dobbelare won both the 110 and 300 hurdles at the sectional meet in Perryville, and he also qualified in the long jump with a third-place performance.
Dobbelare also helped Perryville's 1,600 relay team set a new school record (3:24.87) en route to a sectional win. Kyle Cottner, who also qualified in the triple jump, Jesse Kueker and Terry Wood are also on the relay team.
Jesse Whistler qualified in the 300 hurdles and also helped Perryville get through in the 800 relay, which will also feature Kyle Lorenz, Wood and Cottner.
Brittney Castelberry, who will compete in the 300 hurdles, is Perryville's lone female qualifier.
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