By Gene Phelps
BLUE SPRINGS – Cayce Smith and Katie Rowan would have been happy to just qualify for Saturday’s MHSAA Class 2A state track and field meet in Pearl.
The two East Union hurdlers did more.
Smith, a freshman, won the 300-meter hurdles in 51.01 seconds while Rowan, a sophomore, captured the 100-meter hurdles in 17.69 seconds at last week’s North state meet in Oxford. The two also qualified for state with fourth-place finishes – Smith in the 100, Rowan in the 300.
“There were three with better times than me (in the 300) going in,” Smith said. “We justed wanted to do our best and hoped it would be good enough to go to state.”
Their wins at North state were personal-best clockings.
“Your adrenaline gets pumping so much,” Rowan said. “It was North half; it was a big deal.”
East Union coach Nathan McLellan, too, was just hoping to see his hard-working athletes qualify for the state meet.
“We had a great day,” he said. “It was a little bit of an upset … but I’m not sure it was an upset when you consider how hard they’ve worked.
“Both of them are natural hurdlers.”
East Union has no track and field facility, so Smith and Rowan train with the one hurdle they have on campus. However, they do a majority of their work at Pontotoc High’s track.
They credit Tupelo assistant coach Scott Brown for working with them on the technique needed to be successful in the event.
“I’ve gotten a whole lot better, my form and everything, working with coach Brown,” Smith said.
Both athletes take pride in their events.
“Anybody can run, but not everybody can do the hurdles,” Rowan said.
East Union has three other North state champions in its lineup: Jordan Salmon won the boys 3,200 meters in 10:51.40, Armani Linton won the boys triple jump in 45-03.50 and Zach Rowan won the pole vault with a 10-06.