Fitting finish to his career

JEFFERSON CITY — New Bloomfield’s Caleb Distler logged four miles around Licklider Track during Friday’s Class 2 state track and field championships at Adkins Stadium.That led to a pair of tired legs for the senior, but his reward was four all-state medals.“This year was pretty hard, because it was all in one day,” Distler said. “I knew I had a tall order ahead of me, but I did the best I could with what I had.”Distler started the state meet in the 3,200-meter run. His teammate, Nathan Hinrichs, was in first place with 800 meters to go, but he finished third in a time of 9:38.84. Distler crossed the finish line next in 9:48.86 for fourth place.One event into the state meet, New Bloomfield was atop the team standings with 11 points.“Right off the bat, that was really big,” Distler said. “Coach was happy with us. We had a really good start today.”Each of Distler’s four events had at least a two-hour gap between each run. His next event was the 4×800-meter relay, and with Brian Figard, Hinrichs and Jace Pitzen running the other legs, the Wildcats finished eighth to reach the podium with a time of 8:30.48.“We were trying to get fourth,” Distler said.Distler and Hinrichs ran together again in the 1,600. At sectionals, Hinrichs posted the faster time, but Distler crossed the finish line first at state, placing sixth in the event with a time of 4:32.24. Hinrichs took 11th in 4:40.90.The two ran neck-and-neck for the first three laps, but Distler ran a 1:04 in his final 400 meters to improve his finish by two spots.On 12 occasions this season, Distler and Hinrichs finished 1-2 in the same race. Hinrichs won all six instances in the 3,200 and once in the 1,600, while Distler won the other four instances in the 1,600 and once in the 800-meter run.“It’s been fun running with him,” Distler said. “Nobody’s even close to us in some races. It’s pretty fun just battling it out against him, especially in the mile. He’s the two-mile guy, I’m the 800 guy and we meet in the middle at the mile.”Hinrichs now has three all-state medals in track to go with his two medals in cross country heading into his senior year.“Two years ago when he was a freshman, he just got to state in the 4×800,” New Bloomfield coach Jacob White said. “He did great, he got third in the two-mile in his first individual event at state, and he’s got a taste of that mile now and what it feels like to run it at state.”The last event of the day was Distler’s favorite: the 800.He set the school record at 1:59.59 earlier this season at Russellville. Distler didn’t improve on his record, but he still cut two seconds off his time from last Saturday’s sectional meet, finishing fifth in the 800 at state with a time of 2:01.06.“It was a pretty good race,” Distler said. “I got on the podium, I can’t complain too much.”Distler set goals of finishing in the top four in the 3,200, the top three in the 1,600 and the top three in the 800. Although he only checked the box for one of his goals, it was still his best career performance at state, after earning two medals in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons.“It’s so much fun to set the goals that high with him,” White said. “He has always been that way. Getting him all-state in all the distance events, that’s insane. That’s awesome for him.”Distler will graduate from New Bloomfield with a total of 11 all-state medals: eight in track and field, three in cross country. The total would likely be higher, had the 2020 track season not been wiped out by COVID-19.Distler will continue his track and field career next season at the University of Central Missouri.“We’ve been working together since he was a seventh-grader,” White said. “He is a kid who I’ll never forget. He works his butt off and he’s so much fun to be with. It was fun to watch him succeed, he just did so many awesome things for the school.”New Bloomfield scored its remaining three team points in the boys long jump, as Adam Deppe finished sixth with a jump of 20 feet, 11.25 inches.“He jumped the exact same as his personal record,” White said. “He scratched on that first jump, but on that second jump, his best one of the day, he just made a small adjustment and that’s what he need to get right where he expected to be. He stepped up well today.”The Wildcats tied Russellville and New Covenant Academy for eighth place in the final team standings with 22 points. Father Tolton won the Class 2 boys state title with 44 points, Fayette and Highland tied for second with 42 points and Lutheran North took fourth with 39 points.“I was really happy with what we accomplished today,” White said. “There were a lot of kids on the podium today, and that’s why we’re here. Even though we didn’t get all the points we wanted to get, there were still some really good things.”Also competing at state for the New Bloomfield boys was Hunter Dawson, who finished 13th in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.28 seconds.Deppe also qualified for state in the 110-meter hurdles, but he was disqualified after tripping over a hurdle halfway through the race and entering another lane. He was near the lead in his heat when he tripped.“We were over here watching, and we’re like, ‘Oh, he looks great, he looks great,’” White said. “Then he just clipped that one hurdle and got stuck on it.”Mikaela Lemelin opened the state meet for the New Bloomfield girls in the 3,200. Lemelin missed the school record in the event by one second, but she still earned all-state honors with an eighth-place time of 12:19.77.“With how much she PR’d at sectionals, needing that time to get out, she went ahead and PR’d again by another seven seconds today,” White said. “She’s still going to keep getting better.”Ellie Emerson finished 13th in the girls javelin with a throw of 97-10 for the Lady Wildcats, while Brooke Talbot was unable to clear the opening height of 8-0.5 in the pole vault.STEAM Academy at McCluer South-Berkeley won the Class 2 girls team state championship with 80 points, winning eight of the 19 events. North Platte was runner-up with 58 points, West Platte was third with 35 points and Blue Eye was fourth with 31.

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