Abby Casper’s goal was to earn all-state honors in the 100 and 200 meters.
Facing the fastest females in Class 3 at the Missouri State High School Activities Association state track championships, Casper qualified for the finals in both sprints by finishing in the top eight among 16 competitors in Friday’s preliminaries. On Saturday, Casper bolted her way to a sixth-place finish in the 100 and seventh in the 200.
Standing on the infield of Dwight T. Reed Stadium on the Lincoln University campus in Jefferson City, Casper received a medal as one of the state’s fastest sprinters. Twice.
The Houston sophomore was the minority in a field dominated by juniors and seniors. She was the only underclassman to make the 100 finals and topped the only other one –– Isabel Ringel of St. Pius X –– in the 200.
“It felt surreal. I was trying to soak it all in,” Casper said. “All the hard work I’ve put into track paid off.”
After missing a trip to state by one position her freshman year, Casper qualified in two events this year and set her sights on all-state recognition. That meant advancing through the preliminaries in the top half of 17 other runners.
Running in the seventh lane in the 100, Casper finished fifth in what proved to be the fastest of the two heats. Several minutes lapsed before her HHS track coaches –– Vince McCrosky and Skye Wade –– shared the good news. Her time of 12.95 seconds was fast enough by 0.14 seconds to earn the eighth and last qualifying spot.
“The 100 was nerve-wracking,” Casper said. “I honestly thought when I walked off the track that I didn’t make it.”
The 200 was less suspenseful. Casper was fourth in her heat at 26.25 and qualified in the seventh position.
Advancing in both races meant two all-state honors for Casper regardless of Saturday’s outcomes.
“I reached my goals and made it as far as I wanted to,” she said. “But being a competitor, I didn’t want to get last.”
In the 100 finals, Casper came on strong in the final moments of the sprint. She passed two runners for sixth place and finished just behind a pack of competitors in the Nos. 3-6 positions.
Kamira Franklin of M.S.B. won the race in 12.23 seconds. After runner-up Nikita Smith of Lawson, just 0.21 seconds separated the next four runners. Casper finished in 13.09 seconds.
“My grandpa told me if I would have had another 20 meters, I would have gotten third,” Casper said.
The 200 finals offered a unique challenge as Casper, who was in the first lane, ran beside metal railing separating the track from the infield for the first time in her career. She started strong and was in fourth place near the finish before being passed by three runners.
Her final time was 26.65 seconds.
“My legs just gave out,” she said.
Still, it was an incredibly successful showing for Casper and a contingent of more than 15 friends, family, coaches and supporters. She said she especially felt the love from the community on social media as her results were posted.
“I knew it was a big deal going to state, but I didn’t know how many people were supporting me and following me,” Casper said. “It made me feel really good to represent Houston that way.”
I knew it was a big deal going to state, but I didn’t know how many people were supporting me and following me. It made me feel really good to represent Houston that way.”
100 meters – 6th
1. Kamira Franklin, M.S.B. 12.23
2. Nikita Smith, Lawson 12.58
3. Jasia Crawford, Soldan 12.83
4. Abbey Eskens, Blair Oaks 12.93
5. Crissy Cook, Hogan Prep 12.96
6. ABBY CASPER, HOUSTON 13.09
200 meters – 7th
1. Kamira Franklin, M.S.B. 25.20
2. Makayla Walder, Dexter 25.92
3. Nikita Smith, Lawson 25.94
4. Ashli Isabell, Cardinal Ritter 26.11
5. Jasia Crawford, Soldan 26.34
6. Crissy Cook, Hogan Prep 26.54
7. ABBY CASPER, HOUSTON 26.65