Honoring the best of the spring season

School is out, temperatures are rising and another spring sports season has unfortunately flown by.

As usual, though, athletes, teams and coaches around the Lake made it another memorable year that will bring smiles to those who look back and remember what took place. Whether it was notable turnarounds, district and conference titles or the right to be called state champion, the schools around the Lake did not disappoint.

Now, the time has come for the Lake Sun to continue its tradition of recognizing those who made it special.

TOP ATHLETES

Camdenton senior Kylie Meier, Track and Field

Camdenton senior Kylie Meier became quite familiar with standing on top of the podium during her time as a Laker. Her illustrious career features five state championships between individual and relay events, including two this year when she won the Class 4 title in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. The Arkansas commit defended her 300-hurdles title for three straight years and finished with All-State honors 10 times over the past four years. Her grit and determination also helped the program capture a 4x400 relay state title a season ago and the first team state title in school history. Meier’s time at Camdenton may be at an end, but her example has set the bar high for future Lakers to follow.

Camdenton junior Gabe Kurtz, Track and Field

Camdenton junior Gabe Kurtz brought a long drought to an end at the Class 4 track and field meet in Jefferson City when he won a state championship in the javelin. In doing so, he became the first boy to win a state title for the Lakers since his coach Nick Bruck won a shot put title back in 2000. Kurtz set a Class 4 record in the process with a throw of 181 feet and six inches and the best part is that not only will he be back to defend his state title as a senior, but that winning mark was not even his best throw of the season as he set a school record of 184 feet and four inches just a couple of weeks prior. With another season left to go, time will tell how far Kurtz can really make a javelin fly.

TOP TEAMS

Osage Boys’ Golf

The members of the Osage boys’ golf team found they could rely upon each other throughout the year. The Indians produced numerous match medalists, or were near the top, at any given event and in one of the final home meets of the season, the group put up one of the best team scores in recent program memory with a round of 155 to edge Lebanon by a single stroke. The team of Ethan Kline, Zach Krantz, Chance Foster, Jacob Krantz and Nick Riley went on to capture the Tri-County Conference title, put up the best finish in program history at districts where they placed second and advanced the entire team to sectionals. Kline went on to represent Osage at state where he finished 33rd out of 92 golfers in the Class 3 tournament at Old Kinderhook. He was not alone either as several of his teammates came to show him support on the first day.

Camdenton Girls’ Track and Field

The sky was the limit for a Camdenton girls’ track and field program that came into 2018 with everyone back and eager to defend the first team state championship in school history. The Lakers almost did so as they finished third out of 90 total Class 4 teams and brought home their second straight team trophy. Multiple athletes turned in All-State performances and senior Kylie Meier brought home two more individual state titles as well. Grace Wormek, Coley Rezabek, Natalie Basham, Clare Holmes and Katie Blackman joined Meier up on the podium at the state meet in Jefferson City at the end of another year that saw the team win their second straight district title and a sectional title on the way to the capital. Numerous colleges also took notice of the talented bunch as four different Lakers went on to sign their letters of intent to compete at the collegiate level.

TOP COACHES

Tobby Eldridge, Eldon Girls’ Track and Field

The Eldon girls’ track and field team has made quite a habit of winning conference and district championships under the leadership of Coach Tobby Eldridge. Eldon won its fourth straight district title and fourth Tri-County Conference title in five years where the depth of the Mustangs shone bright as the team featured medalists in almost every event. While some athletes depart after graduation and new faces come in, the coach has built a foundation that he describes as a family where athletes celebrate each accomplishment with each other, no matter how small. As a result, inspiration is instilled for athletes to push themselves to the top or perhaps outperform their own expectations. It has continued to be a proven method of success as 12 Mustangs went on to compete at the Class 3 state meet and three of them (Macie Halderman, Haley Clifton and Lauren Imler) came home with medals and All-State recognition.

Bryce Durnin, Camdenton Baseball

The Camdenton baseball program seems to have turned a corner with Coach Bryce Durnin in just his third year at the helm. After turning in a 20-34 record over two years, the Lakers improved to 17-10 with only two seniors on the team. Solid pitching and some hot bats sent Camdenton on a seven-game winning streak entering the Class 5 district playoffs and the team put up a fight against defending state champion Jefferson City before bowing out in a walkoff defeat. However, the team racked up the most wins of any Camdenton team in the past six years and Durnin said part of the key was getting his club to consistently play smart as he printed out all the stats and sought to give his players all the information they needed to make improvements. He also credited the parents of his players for the time and commitment they invested towards the game and with many players returning, the program may very well continue to take successful leaps forward.

HONORABLE MENTION ATHLETES

Versailles junior Ori Bartlett, Golf

Versailles junior Ori Bartlett earned his place among the best Class 2 golfers in Missouri. After qualifying for state a season ago, the junior went on to place 12th amongst a field of 90 at the state tournament in New Bloomfield and earn All-State honors by placing in the top 15. In doing so, he ended a 12-year drought and became the first Tiger to make the All-State team since 2006 graduate and two-time state champion Justin Yoder.

Versailles sophomore Keely Gustafson, Track and Field

Versailles sophomore Keely Gustafson had a busy weekend at the Class 3 state meet where she represented the Tigers in four different events. She went on to medal in three of them as she helped the 4x200 relay team place fifth and the 4x400 relay team place seventh while also capturing seventh in the 400-meter dash. She was also just one place away from making All-State in the 200-meter dash as well.

Camdenton senior Jacob Hill, Track and Field

Camdenton senior Jacob Hill was dedicated to making his final season as a Laker a good one. After a strained hamstring caused him to miss about five weeks of the season, the returning All-State sprinter came back for districts and made a run to state where he placed sixth in the Class 4 100-meter dash while also helping the 4x100 relay team qualify for state as well.

Camdenton junior Natalie Basham, Track and Field

Camdenton junior Natalie Basham did not walk away empty-handed in any event she competed in at the Class 4 state meet. The junior placed second in the 100-meter hurdles, seventh in the 400-meter dash and was also a member of the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams which both placed second. Those constant trips to the podium helped the team bring home a third place trophy from state as well.

HONORABLE MENTION TEAMS

Versailles Boys’ Track and Field

The Versailles boys’ track and field team made history this spring as they became the first team in school history to capture a Tri-County Conference championship. The Tigers won conference titles in seven different events as Kooper Wilson, Chase Hyman, Jonathon Geier, Coby Williams and Kendall Reger all bested the conference in their respective events.

Camdenton Girls’ Soccer

After a tough 1-5 start to the year, the Camdenton girls’ soccer team turned things around and went on to win eight of their next 10 games to finish the season 10-10-1. The Lakers had five players go on to earn All-Conference including the Ozark Conference Offensive Player of the Year in sophomore Aeryn Kennedy who finished the season with 30 goals and three assists.

HONORABLE MENTION COACHES

Jason Trusty, Macks Creek Baseball

After losing some All-State talent to graduation while instituting a relatively young lineup, Macks Creek coach Jason Trusty implored his club to treat each game as the most important game of the season and it led the Pirates to a battle-tested 10-12 record and an appearance in the district championship game for the second time in three years. Macks creek did not capture the district title this time around, but it seems that the competitive edge has mainly stayed intact with Trusty at the helm.

Chuck Campbell, Versailles Golf

Versailles golf coach Chuck Campbell came out of retirement to coach his alma matter after a nice 25-year run at Eldon that featured a couple of state championships and his efforts helped the Tigers finish the regular season 6-2 and send two golfers to state in Ori Bartlett and Garrett Boatright. Bartlett went on to become the first All-State Tiger in 12 years and while a solid showing at state is nice for any program, Campbell was just as focused on making sure the program continues to grow whether he will return as coach or not.