Avy Powell-Qualo and Skyler Owen both brought home medals from the two-day state track meet in Jefferson City. Powell-Qualo finished second in the Class 5 high jump, matching her previous school record with a jump of 5’6″ to claim the runner-up spot. Owen won two medals, in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Owen finished fifth in the 100 and eighth in the 200.
Powell-Qualo sailed through the high jump competition on the early jumps, posting her best performance of the season. After setting a school record at 5’6″ last year, she had fallen short of that mark in 2018 — until Friday.
“I felt so good. I was preparing my mind before we started running. We did warm ups and [Coach Zac Nelson] talked me through some things and that really helped. So I definitely was prepared and I was ready,” she says.
Powell-Qualo was guaranteed a medal and an all-state finish after clearing 5’4″. When she went over 5’5″ that put her ahead of everyone else in the field except eventual champion Jessica Haney of Lee’s Summit West. Haney eventually cleared 5’9″, setting a new state record (which she already owned). The two competitors didn’t know one another before meeting at the district meet two weeks ago, but have become friends in that short time.
“We talked about a lot of things. We just kind of grew a bond, and I started talking to her more, and she’s actually really nice,” Powell-Qualo says.
Both Powell-Qualo and Haney will have a shot to renew their friendship next year. They’ll both be seniors.
Owen actually ran the second-fastest time of the weekend in the Class 5 100 — but that was during the prelims, not the finals. His 10.74 was just one-hundredth of a second slower than Nathaniel Peat of Rock Bridge, who eventually won the event. Peat ran a 10.75 in the final, and it was good enough for the championship.
“I didn’t have as great a start as I did yesterday, but I still got fifth. I got on the podium. That’s all I really wanted,” Owen said of his finish in the finals.
Owen followed up his medal in the 100-meter dash with an eight-place finish in the 200 in his last race as a Republic Tiger. He ends his career as arguably the fastest sprinter at Republic in the past quarter century. (State champion sprinter Mike Garner’s 10.4 in the 100-meter dash, set in 1992, is still the school record. Tryston Ellison was hand-timed at 10.5 at the Hillcrest Invitational in 2015. That converts to a 10.74 under electronic timing, as well.) Owen is also the first Republic athlete to ever medal in a running event in Class 5.
“That’s pretty crazy. I can’t believe I actually did it,” Owen says of his accomplishments on the track. “It’s always something I’ve dreamed about since I’ve ran track.”
Those dreams as a younger sprinter included admiration of older Republic athletes, including one in particular.
“Definitely Jerney Jones. I always wanted to be him, but never could. But today,” he adds with a grin, “I think I could have beat him if he was out there.”
Republic qualified for the state meet in three other events. The boys 4×100 relay team of Chase Liedtke, Dylan Brown, Jake Jones, and Owen finished 14th (43.82). The girls 4×100 relay team of Delaney Smith, Kaitlyn Ragsdale, Lauren O’Hara, Powell-Qualo (51.05) also finished 14th. Freshman Jasmyn Douglas, who qualified in the 400m dash, finished 13th (1:01.48).