Houston senior Bethany Korte, left, runs in the 100-meter prelims at the state track meet in Jefferson City. Korte finished third in the finals.

Bethany Korte crouched into the starting blocks for the Class 2 state finals of the 100 meters. At her side were the best sprinters in Missouri.

“I was shaking in my blocks,” Korte said. “I was nervous.”

A slow start didn’t help matters. A couple seconds into the race, Korte was already trailing six of her competitors.

“I got behind the pack and thought, ‘OK, I’m not losing this,'” Korte said. “I ran just as hard as I could.”

Korte erased the gap with her great closing speed and leaned over the finish line with a time of 12.63. The Houston senior remembers looking up at her time and place. She had finished third in the state.

“I just about cried. I was so happy,” Korte said.

Korte also finished 14th in the long jump. She was joined at the meet by sophomore Kyle Jones, who placed ninth in the long jump and 12th in the high jump.

Korte entered the state championships at Dwight T. Reed Stadium in Jefferson City ranked 11th among 16 runners. Her goal, Houston track coach Chris Edwards said, was simply to make the finals.

Korte ran a 12.54 in the prelims — her fastest time of the season and the third-fastest of her competitors. Her time in the finals was the second-fastest of the year.

Spice Brown of Barat Academy won the 100 in 12.40. Hartville’s Jasmin Hughes was second with a time of 12.43. Just two-thousandths of a second separated Korte and University Academy Charter’s A’Yonna Cartwright, who finished fourth.

“The one thing about Bethany is if she’s close, she’s going to get you at the end. She’s just a battler,” Edwards said.

Korte had little time to compete in the long jump. The event began at 2 p.m. Houston’s graduation was scheduled to begin at 4. With the officials’ permission, Korte was able to take her four jumps in a row without a break.

At that point, Korte said she was more focused on getting home.

“I bolted. I was ready to get to graduation,” she said.

Jones missed medal spots in both his events by just one place. He jumped 19 feet, 4 inches in the long jump to finish ninth. The top eight finishers receive medals. In the high jump, he tied with four others for eighth spot but placed 12th based on the order of jumps.

“As a sophomore, to make it in two events and do well, that bodes well for him in the future,” Edwards said.

The meet was the final one as a coach at Houston for Edwards, who resigned his football and track responsibilities and will leave the district next year. He said he took pride in advancing two athletes to state in his last season.

“To be able to see Bethany on the podium finishing third and the culmination of all our hard work, what a way for me to finish my career here,” Edwards said.

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