Houston senior Trenton Best, middle, clears a hurdle as he competes Saturday at the Class 3 Sectional 3 in Eldon.

Trenton Best just missed a return trip to the state track finals. Teammate Abby Casper won’t be going back again either.

Best finished one spot away from qualifying for state by finishing fifth in the 110-meter hurdles Saturday at the Class 3 Sectional 3 at Eldon High School. The top four advance.

Best, a HHS senior and reigning all-stater, ran the race in 15.79 seconds –– just behind Mountain Grove’s Dustin Jarboe, who finished fourth in 15.54.

Houston track coach Tori Richardson said Best was hampered by an injury.

“After practicing on Eldon’s track Friday night, I knew something was off,” she said. “Trent woke up Thursday with pain in his hamstring. We did all we could to try to resolve the issue, but there was only so much we could do.”

Casper, also a senior, missed a third consecutive trip to state with a false start –– leading to a disqualification –– in the 100. Fair Grove freshman Madison Clark won the race in 13.01 seconds. Casper qualified for sectionals with a time of 12.57 seconds to win districts.

“She has had clean starts all season, but had a small slip-up in her blocks causing her to be disqualified,” Richardson said. “Obviously, Abby was devastated. I have never met a girl more competitive than her, so I know this won’t be a moment she easily forgets.”

The Houston girls’ 4×200 relay team of Kameron Hall, Melody Buse, Emily Shea and Kelly Hubbs finished sixth in 1:55.49.

Best, who will continue his career at Hannibal-La-Grange, finished sixth in the state at last year’s state championships. His time of 15.43 set a new HHS record.

Casper was 11th in the 100 and 12th in the 200 as a junior in 2016. She was sixth in the 100 and seventh in the 200 as a sophomore.

“As tough as it was to see and experience the heartache from this meet, I know that there will be good to come from it,” Richardson said. “I truly believe the athletes and myself learned a great deal more from this weekend’s failures than if we were to have made it to state. I know they will take what they learned and apply it as they start their new chapter outside of high school.”

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