Houston High School’s boys and girls track and field teams competed on Tuesday of last week at the SBU Invitational at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.

Squads from a whopping 48 schools competed at the massive meet.

“It was by far the biggest track meet we’ve attended this year,” said HHS head coach Mike Tottingham, “and can only really be rivaled by the Missouri State Track and Field Championships. We had several personal records at this meet, which is really all you can ask for at a competition like this one.” 

Athletes finishing first through fifth earned medals and top-8 finishes resulted in team points.     

One of Houston’s highlights at the event was senior Nate Garnica taking third in an extremely close 100-meter dash. He crossed the finish line with a time of 11.23, while the second-place time was 11.22 and the winning mark was 11.20

“It was an awesome race,”

Garnica also finished eighth in the 400.

Also earning a medal in the meet was senior PJ Mister with a fourth-place showing in the triple jump.

Other scoring performances for the HHS boys included Dmitrii Zveniatckovskii taking eighth in javelin and the all-senior 4X200-meter relay squad of Hunter McKinney, Noah Gulick, Mister and Garnica placing eighth.   

On the girls side, Houston junior Makenzi Arthur earned a medal by placing fourth in javelin.

On Thursday of last week, Houston’s track teams both finished second at the 14-team Mountain Grove Invitational.

Liberty senior Jentry Acklin (4) holds a huge lead after only one hurdle on the way to winning the boys 110-meter hurdles during the Mountain Grove Invitational. At right is Houston freshman Jordan Arthur.

Salem took first in the boys team standings, while Mountain Grove won on the girls side.

Despite rainy conditions, several HHS athletes set personal records in the meet.

“This meet gave us a good chance to come and compete at the brand-new facility for the first time before the SCA Conference Championships are held there,” Tottingham said.  

The top-3 individual finishers in each event earned medals, and the top-8 scored team points.



•Nathan Garnica – First place in the 400-meter dash (with a PR of 52.11), second in the 200, third in the 100.

In a close finish in the boys 100-meter dash last Thursday at Mountain Grove, Liberty senior Jentry Acklin (5) crosses the line first, while Salem senior Kaden Coffman (4) takes second and Houston senior Nate Garnica (3) comes in third.

•PJ Mister – First in long jump (19-6 1/4), third in the 300 hurdles, fourth in triple jump, eighth in high jump.

•Hunter McKinney – Third in the 1,600-meter run, fifth in the 800.

•Noah Gulick – Fourth in the 400, seventh in high jump.

•Jordan Arthur – Fifth in the 110-meter hurdles, sixth in the 300 hurdles.

•Davontae Mister – Fourth in the 3,200.

•Harold Lassiter – Fifth in discus, sixth in javelin.

•Dmitrii Zveniatckovskii – Fifth in javelin.

•Brady Brookshire – Seventh in shot put.

•4×400 relay – Second place (Alex Zamarron, Zander Scholz, Hunter McKinney, Noah Gulick)

•4x800m relay – Fifth (Nick Washko, Riley Talbott, Davontae Mister, Zander Scholz)

As rain falls hard around them, Houston’s Riley Talbot hands the baton to teammate Nick Washko during the boys 4X800 relay last Thursday at Mountain Grove.

•4×100 relay – Seventh (Dmitrii Zveniatckovskii, Layne Seago, Zander Scholz, Harold Lassiter).

•4×200 relay – Eighth (Alex Zamarron, Harold Lassiter, Layne Seago, Noah Gulick).


•Olivia Crites – First in high jump (4-9 3/4), Sixth in long jump, second in the 300-meter hurdles, third in the 100 hurdles.

HHS junior Olivia Crites prepares to cross over the bar on her way to winning the girls high jump at the Mountain Grove Invitational.

•Kristen Ely – Second in the 800-meter run, fourth in the 1,600.

•Makenzi Arthur – Second in javelin, sixth in the 400, seventh in discus.  

•Allie Benoist – Third in the 3,200-meter run.

•Summer Bittle – Fourth place 3,200.

•Sarah Purcell – Second in shot put.

•4×800 relay – First place (Jordyn Lay, Kristen Ely, Allie Benoist, Summer Bittle).

•4×200 relay – Third (Gracie Tottingham, Allie Benoist, Summer Bittle, Makenzi Arthur).

To view photo gallery from the Mountain Grove Invitational (with the option to purchase photos), click here.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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