On Thursday, May 25, the El Dorado Springs State qualifying athletes loaded up the bus at 1:00 to head to Jefferson City to participate in the MSHSAA Class 3 Track and Field State Championships. We arrived at the Jefferson City High School Stadium at 4:30 to set up our tent and do a walk through practice. One last opportunity to walk through the stadium and fine tune before beginning the Championships on Friday.

After a short walk through practice, the team went and had a good meal and went back to the hotel to get a good night’s rest and get ready for a busy day on Friday.

On Friday, May 26, after waking up and having breakfast, the team headed to the stadium to prepare for the busy day. McKinli Mays got the day started off for the Bulldogs, with the triple jump at 10 a.m. McKinli did not have her best day in triple jump, finishing 9th, however, she was conflicted with also having the 4 x 800 m. relay at 10:30. This was a lot to deal with, especially as a freshman, having to go back and forth between events. She has had a great year in triple jump, but it just didn’t pan out this weekend for her.

In the middle of the event, though, she went to join her 4 x 800 m. relay team of Tatum Quinlan, Audrey Goatley and Hannah Klaiber to get the running events started.

Tatum Quinlan got the relay team off to a good start, finishing just 1 second off her best split time of the season. She finished strong handing the baton off to Audrey Goatley. Audrey began to move through the field and finished with a solid performance, handing off to McKinli. McKinli moved through the field, handing off to Hannah Klaiber in second place, about 4 seconds back from 1st place. Hannah worked with a girl from Centralia to catch the first place team and made a move late to take the lead and get a small gap, before crossing the finish line to find the team in 1st place, in a school record breaking time of 9:57.03.

Yes, the El Dorado Springs 4 x 800 relay team became State Champions. They were pretty excited and celebrated as a team, before McKinli had to head back and finish the triple jump.

Next up for the Bulldogs was Kuliath Kephart in the prelims of the 100 m. dash. Kuliath ran a good race with his 2nd fastest time of his career in 11.24 but that wasn’t quite enough to get him to finals on Saturday.

Next, Kuliath went on to join teammates Will Seitz, Justin Brown, and Trey Beisley in the 4 x 200 m. relay. The team ran a good race finishing with their second best time of the season, in 1:33.51, but again, it just wasn’t quite enough to get to the finals.

Next up was McKinli in the 400 m. dash prelims. McKinli went on to run a personal best time of 59.11 to win her heat and qualify for the finals on Saturday.

Up next was Kuliath in the high jump. Kuliath struggled with his timing a little. He cleared his first height of 1.78 meters (5’10.08”) on his 3rd attempt. He went on to 1.83 meters (6’00.05”) and made a couple of good attempts at it, but just brushed it off with his calf at the end of the jump. Kuliath, as a senior, has had a good ride and despite not starting track until the middle of the season his junior year, he has really progressed and made the most of the short period of time he has been in the sport, qualifying for State in 3 events his senior year.

Next up for the Bulldogs was Connor Goatley in the finals of the 800 meter run. Connor started off in a conservative manner, coming through the first of a 2 lap race in 14th place, however, Connor kept his pace up through the 2nd lap and moved through the field, kicking in the final 150 meters to find himself finishing 7th with a personal best time of 1:59.31. This was his 2nd year in a row to finish with All-State honors in the 800 m. run.

To wrap up the 1st day of the Championship meet for the Bulldogs was the girls 4 x 400 m. relay prelims, consisting of Hannah Klaiber, Neely Schaaf, Lainey Dody and McKinli Mays. The relay team, although not sharp, won their heat, advancing them on to the finals on Saturday, qualified in the 3rd position by time, based on the times from the other heat.

After wrapping up a very busy day 1, the Bulldogs headed to grab a good bite to eat and then head back to the hotel to get a good night’s rest and get ready for the final day of the Championships.

On Saturday, the team woke up, got breakfast and then loaded the bus to head to the track in anticipation of another great day. On the docket for the day was the boys 4 x 800 m. relay, the finals in the 400m. Dash and the finals of the girls 4 x 400 m. relay.

Up first was the boys 4 x 800 m. relay team, consisting of Will Seitz, Logan Fisk, Braxton Watts and Connor Goatley. Will Seitz got the team off to a good start, running a personal best split of 2:03.90. After handing off to Logan, Logan continued by matching his best time of the year, running a 2:08. Logan handed off to Braxton, who went on to run his personal best split of 2:03.74. Braxton went on to hand off to Connor. Connor moved through the field and also ran his best split of the season of 1:59.96 to find the team in an All-State 6th place finish, with a school record breaking time of 8:16.13. This broke the school record set last year by James King, Braxton Watts, Connor Goatley and Daelen Ackley which set the record at 8:16.50.

So like Friday, the boys 4 x 800 m. relay team got the day off to a great start.

Next up for the day was McKinli Mays in the finals of the girls 400 m. dash. McKinli got the race off to a great start and coming off of the curve into the final stretch, McKinli was in a battle for 2nd. The battle continued down the final stretch, where McKinli ended up finding herself in 3rd place with a personal best time of 58.50. McKinli, as a freshman, had a very busy weekend with 4 events on Friday and two races on Saturday in finals. To see her hold up like this and handle the pressure the way she did was impressive.

Next up for McKinli, after a couple of hours of break, she joined teammates Hannah Klaiber, Neely Schaaf and Lainey Dody to get ready for the 4 x 400 m. finals. Hannah got things started for the team in the mix until the final stretch, moving through the field to hand off to Neely Schaaf in first place, with a season best time of 1:01.64. Neely Schaaf took the baton and continued where Hannah left off. The race tightened a little on the back stretch, but as Neely came off the curve into the homestretch, she pulled away from the field keeping the lead for the Bulldogs, handing off to teammate Lainey Dody with a great time of 1:02.55. Lainey continued the efforts, also pulling away from the field in the final stretch handing off to McKinli with the lead in another impressive time of 1:02.25. McKinli Mays had the baton to anchor the Bulldog team against a very good runner from Centralia. The Centralia runner, once again closed the gap on the back stretch, but just like the other 3 runners, McKinli pulled away on the homestretch to bring home the gold with a time of 4:06.47, which broke the school record that they set the week before at the Sectional Meet. This wrapped up the 2023 State Championship Meet for the Bulldogs.

This was an incredibly awesome weekend for the El Dorado Springs Bulldogs. In the end, the boys ended up with 5 points as a team. The Girls team ended up with 26 points to finish 7th as a team, just one point out of 6th and just 11 points out of a 4th place plaque. Even more impressive was the fact that out of the 18 athletes we took to the state meet, only 4 (2 boys and 2 girls) of them had ever competed at the state meet before.

We will miss the 3 seniors, Kuliath Kephart, Connnor Goatley and Hannah Klaiber next year, as they have played a major role in leading this team this year, but it is nice to see so many youngsters ready to step up next year. We will also miss the other 3 seniors on our roster this year in Jake Cooper, Truman Ledbetter and Ryan Griffin. We want to wish all of our Seniors the Best of Luck as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.

There were several groups and organizations that took a great deal of the financial burden off of the parents and athletes, to allow them to more easily focus on the task at hand.

So the track team would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the following organizations for their incredible generosity: the El Dorado Springs School Board, the El Dorado Springs Athletic Booster Club, the El Dorado Springs Optimist Club, and H&R Block. We would also like to Thank Roger Floyd, Matt Watts and the El Dorado Springs and Olympia Fire Departments for the incredible escort out of town and escort back in town, which will be memorable for the kids for a long time. You all are so amazing and have made a tremendous impact on the athletes and their parents. thank you.

This wrapped up the 2023 season for the Bulldogs. In the end, we saw 5 of our 9 events end up with All-State Honors, with 2 of them finishing with State Championships. It is a great time to be a Bulldog! GO BULLDOGS!