One of the more active teams at Saturday's Class 3 Sectional 4 Meet, Maryville performed at a level that brought frequent smiles to the face of head coach Lori Klaus.
Keeping disappointments to a minimum, the Hounds qualified a combined 10 athletes for this weekend's Class 3 State Championship Meet in 13 of their 20 events.
Senior boys Peyton Mizera, Treyton Burch, Caleb Mather and Derek Stiens made it through in all eight of their individual events and combined to win three. The Lady Hounds advanced four individuals and their 4 x 400M relay.
Every Hound athlete or relay seeded inside the top four finished there except for the girls 4 x 200M relay and pole vaulter Troy Sherry.
The boys ended up fourth in the team standings, while the Lady Hounds tied for third with Clinton.
Both scored over 60 points.
"The kids that I definitely thought would make it, did, which was good because you never know on a day like today," said Klaus. "I thought the girls 4 x 200 would make it through and they didn't, but they still ran well and PR'd, so you can't really be upset with that, I guess."
Maryville got off to an exceedingly good start, with five state qualifiers and four sectional champions coming out of the first six events.
Freshman Jennifer Gullion (long jump), senior Baylee Scarbrough (shot put) Mizera (triple jump) and Mather (discus) all finished first and set new personal bests in the process.
Mizera and Scarbrough were favorites in their events, while Gullion was a three seed and Mather was fourth.
"We started off the day great which was good," said Klaus. "That kind of sets the tone for the rest of the kids that hadn't competed yet. It was really exciting at the beginning of the day."
Mizera snapped off his career-best mark of 46-1.5 in the triple on a pressure-packed fourth and final attempt.
His first three jumps resulted in scratches, putting his state qualifying status in jeopardy.
"I was a little worried, but I just scooted back and did the best I could," said Mizera whose now a three-time state qualifier.
Mizera also recorded his best long jump distance of 21-9 on his final attempt, assuring him of a second sectional title and second appearance in the event at state.
"I always just save whatever I have left on my last jump and get myself pumped up," said Mizera. "It works out."
Burch gave Maryville a second state qualifier in the long jump, finishing third.
He was fifth going into the final round before landing a mark of 20-10.
Burch also finished third in both hurdle events with solid times in each one. A first-time state qualifier, Burch is the only Hound athlete to make it in three individual events.
Page 2 of 3 - "It feels pretty good because last year I came up short and didn't make it, so it feels better to get all three of these," said Burch.
A defending shot put state champion, Mather re-asserted himself as a title contender in the discus, throwing a career-best 173-1 to finish first.
This was 39 feet further than his top throw at districts and six beyond second place finisher Alec Whiteside from Chillicothe.
The shot put didn't go as well for Mather who finished second behind Whiteside with a throw of 55-6—four below his season-best.
Mather and Whiteside will square off in the shot put and discus one final time at state. For Mather, it's his third time going in both events.
"I'm just excited Caleb made it in both," said Klaus. "He threw really well in the discus today and he needed that."
Maryville's final boys state qualifier from the early events was senior Derek Stiens. He survived an off day to finish fourth in the shot put with a height of 12-9, sending him back to state for the third straight year. He's medaled in each of the last two.
Sherry came close to joining him but finished fifth.
The only two events where the boys didn't have a top four finisher were the 4 x 200M and 4 x 400M relays.
The 4 x 200 team finished eighth and the 4 x 400 came in seventh. Neither relay was seeded in the top four.
For the girls, Scarbrough used a career-best throw of 40-11 to win the shot put during Maryville's best segment of the meet.
She went on to finish fifth in the discus, tying teammate Jessica Pfost. Both had identical distances of 119-6.
"Fifth place is never fun, so that's kind of rough," said Klaus.
Gullion's career-best mark of 16-9 made her the long jump champion in her first-ever sectional appearance.
She finished third in the event at districts with a mark of 16-3.
"Sometimes it's a lot of pressure for a freshman if they've never been before," said Klaus. "We're very excited about her and her performance."
On the track, junior McKenzie Wallace qualified for state in the 100M hurdles, the 300M hurdles and ran the anchor leg on the state qualifying 4 x 400M relay.
Seeded seventh, McKenzie set a new personal best to finish third in the 100's. She finished second in the 300's to Chillicothe's Erin Gilliland.
"She had a great day, a big day," said Klaus. "Her 4 x 400 split was amazing. She's just really coming along in the 100 hurdles. She wasn't sure if she could make it, but she got there and that's exciting."
Page 3 of 3 - Maryville advanced one more individual to state when first-time qualifier Jessa Stiens recorded a fourth place finish in the pole vault.
Stiens cleared 9-9 for the first time in her career and set a new personal best for the second straight meet.
With the bar at 8-9, Stiens was one miss away from being eliminated, but made it over on the third attempt following a strategic exchange with coach Michael Klaus.
"Coach had just come up to me and given me a bigger pole," said Stiens. "'I was like I'm going back down.' He was like 'fine, then you have to run the hardest you've ever run,' so thank God for that one."
Stiens, who scratched in the 400M dash, later ran the second leg on Maryville's 4 x 400M relay which finished third.
McKenzie, Mikaila Wallace and freshman Abby Hayes were the other relay members. Hayes took the place of senior Sydney Rogers before the meet.
The Hounds were also expected to qualify their 4 x 200M relay, but the top-seeded unit finished fifth despite running their best time of the year.
Also finishing outside the top four were Mikaila Wallace (100M dash) and sophomore Dominique Wiedmaier (high jump).
The Class 3-4 State Track & Field Championships begin Friday in Jefferson City.