Eldon track and field's Martonfi and Patton bring home medals from state
Competing against Missouri’s best Class 3 track and field athletes at state for the first time, Eldon freshman Zoe Martonfi and junior Patricia Patton had a fairly good day on Saturday at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City.
Competing in three different events, Martonfi brought home three medals and Patton, who did not even get to enjoy her sophomore season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finished among Missouri’s best as well. And, the good news is that they will have an opportunity to go get more in 2022.
“It feels pretty incredible, kind of encouraging” said Martonfi who medaled in both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdle races while also finishing in the top eight to earn a medal in the triple jump. “I’m excited to come back next year and see what I can do.”
The Eldon girls program finished tied for 14th with 20 points among 74 Class 3 schools across Missouri and as pleased as he was for his own program, Head Coach Tobby Eldridge commended the Tri-County Conference as a whole as four conference schools in Blair Oaks, Southern Boone, Hallsville and Osage finished in the top eight.
“We’ve all had kids earn state medals today, which just goes to show how competitive we are in the conference,” the coach said. “It is fun when you get to this point and we get to cheer for each other. That has probably been the most exciting part. I’m excited for our girls earning medals, but I’m just as excited for the schools in our conference that are doing well.”
Martonfi began her day in the 100-meter hurdles where she finished sixth in the state with a time of 15.91 seconds. Not long after, she finished fourth in the triple jump with a distance of 35 feet and one inch, or 10.69 meters, and rounded up her day with a second place finish in the 300-meter hurdles at 44.54 seconds, trailing only Ste. Genevieve’s Megan Aubuchon’s state championship time of 44.45.
With each event, Martonfi continued to move up the podium and nearly reached the top.
“What is nice is that we know she could have improved. We know there are things she can work in the offseason to get better at, so the future is pretty bright for her and looks pretty good,” Eldridge said of the young freshman.
And, Martonfi is looking forward to working with her coaches to make those improvements.
“In the 100s there was always a girl that would be a little bit in front of me, so I would just say I had to stick with her. In the 300s, all season I’ve been struggling with getting out fast in my starts. So, every time I would just say I have to get out faster this time and just go from there,” the freshman noted, saying she was also fairly pleased with her triple jump. “My coach has been great explaining things and spending time working with me.
“I’ll definitely keep working on events and cross country definitely helps getting in shape. I swim in the summer, do weights and train and improve every day.”
In the shot put, Patton’s throw of 39 feet, 1 3/4 inches, earned her a fifth place finish in her first trip to state. Not bad, being the first season of competing at the varsity level.
“I look back at when she was a freshman and she didn’t even earn her varsity letter. There were two throwers ahead of her who were pretty solid,” Eldridge remarked. “Haley Clifton ended up being a multi-state medalist and Taylor (Henderson) was ahead of her. So, as a freshman she didn’t even get to compete varsity. Last year would have been her sophomore year and she didn’t get to have a season, so this is the first season for her she has ever got to compete in varsity meets. To have a chance here to earn a medal is pretty exciting for her.”
Speaking of Henderson, the senior was out for one final meet with the Mustangs and finished 11th with a throw of 100 feet and three inches, or 30.56 meters. Henderson plans to attend Lincoln University next year in Jefferson City, but will not be too far from home and has plans to continue helping out her Mustangs.
“When she came in as a freshman she was competitive for us and didn’t get her season last year, but she is just a great leader for us,” Eldridge noted. “She is going to come out for track and help us and that is what is exciting when you have kids do really well, are great leaders and they want to stay around and help out.”
While Eldridge is tasked with leading the program, he also enjoys the help of his current assistants whom the coach said makes his life a little easier. The road to next season begins now and the coach has reason to be excited with his returning competitors, including junior Caroline Beckmann who previously had a season-ending injury.
“We do graduate a couple of seniors, but when you get Beckmann back who was a four-time state medalist as a freshman, and you have her with a Zoe Martonfi and P.J. Patton, you are like, ‘Ok, next year looks really good and is exciting,’” he said.
The Eldon boys were also in action and represented by junior Colton Phillips and freshman Nathan Reynolds. Phillips competed in the shot put and finished 11th with a throw of 46 feet and 10 inches, or 14.27 meters, and Reynolds took on the 3,200-meter run with a 13th place finish at 10:12.76.
“I was extremely proud of those guys for making it this far in the process,” Eldon boys track and field coach Chad Hult said, also letting his two competitors know that. “Nate is only a freshman so to get here that young is a big accomplishment and Colton has not done track since middle school, so it is really his first year back in it, too. For those guys to make it to state says a lot about their work ethic and the time they put into it.”
Hult is excited for their futures and expects to see them both back amongst Missouri’s best. But, he not only wants to see them back and getting on the medal stand, but have a few more of their teammates join them.
“I think the track program on the boys side has taken a step forward and we have to keep getting better so we can compete at these events a little bit more,” he said. “We want to get to the point where we are competing to win these events and not just happy to be here. We have to keep working hard to make sure we go that route.”
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com or 573-346-2132