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Cody, Jones and Wells will be the winners to watch in postseason track meets

Cardinal Ritter's Charles Jones is the state's heavy favorite to take the 800 meters again..
Cardinal Ritter's Charles Jones is the state's heavy favorite to take the 800 meters again..
photo of Charles Jones, courtesty of mo.mile-split

Ready or not, Missouri's postseason track and field season in full stride and the cream of the cop has been perched at the top. Lutheran South's sophomore sprint sensation Mya Cody could a 'triple crown' winner in the dashes and help lead her Lady Lancers to the girls Class 3 title after all is said and done. Ditto for Cleveland ROTC's Michael Wells in the boys Class 2 title, while Cardinal Ritter's middle-distance marvel Charles Jones is racing against history and his earlier legacy.

In the state's lowest brackets, Class 1 and Class 2, sprint sensation Michael Wells of Cleveland ROTC, got off to a rousing start in the Class 2 district rounds last weekend at Lutheran-St Charles by sweeping the field in the boys 100 (10.73 seconds), 200 (21.88 seconds) and 400 meters (50.59 seconds) while also capturing the long jump in 22-feet and 3/4, for 'good measure'. Wells, a senior who has already signed with the University of Oklahoma, is the defending state champion in the 100 and 200 meters. He will be competing in the sectional rounds, the last qualifying heats, before advancing to the state meet in Jefferson City the following weekend. Cody's school, Lutheran South, will host one Class 3 district of south county area schools, while the school's rival, Lutheran North will host a Class 3 district comprised of city, north county and St. Charles area schools.

Wells already owns the area's best time of 10.49 seconds in the 100 meters and and a 21.58 seconds in the 200 meters this season, the latter of which he turned in at the prestigious Marion Freeman Invitational meet in Clayton before the districts. In that particular race, which established a new meet record, Wells overwhelmed the field down the final straightaway,while igniting the packed crowd in beating his runner-up Dorian Galvin of Soldan by over a whole second. Galvin recorded a time of 22.76 seconds.

"He's just blessed to have great speed," commented Wells' summer coach, William Upchurch of the Police Athletic League (PAL). "About the middle of the race is where he really accelerated. Mike just needs more quality competition on a regular basis. The problem now is he is not getting great competition on a national level around here."

But he his credit Wells has set the bar high at state, saying he wants to break the state marks in the 200 and 100 meters. He has set a target of an unprecedented 10.1 or lower in the 100 meters. Small wonder he wasn't necessarily overwhelmed with joy at his 200 meters conquest at the Marion Freeman Invitational. (He opted not to run the 100 meters that day, but did help lead his squad to a victory in the 4x400 meter relay to end the afternoon.)

I felt good about my winning this 200, but it probably meant a lot more to my teammates and everybody else," noted Wells. "I was just interested in getting a first-place time. My main focus is winning at state and setting records and to help the team win."

ROTC, which will be competing in the sectionals at Principia this weekend, won the overall team title back in 2o12 when Wells was a sophomore by outpointing runner-up Fatima 51-45. That spring the Commanders had more depth and experience, as Dominic Ball captured the 110-meter high hurdles, Diamond Hodge placed fifth in the triple jump and Ball, Hodge and Devonta Kazee ran with the anchor Wells on the state's winning 4x100 meter relay and the second-place 4x200-meter relay squads,all of whom but Wells have since graduated. Last spring they were a distance second to champion Lamar 79-40.

"I specifically told Michael that the only thing holding him back is himself," said ROTC coach Latore Swinney, who came aboard as Commanders coach last season. "Michael came be as good as he wants to be. You guys are going to see him break a few records before he's done here. The younger guys on the team definitely look up to him like a leader."

Fellow ROTC runner Darryl Williams, who has ran with Wells on the relay teams and competes against him in practice regularly explained Wells' impact.

"It makes me want to get better," said Williams. "It makes me want to run as fast as him. Competing against him in practice all the time is good for me, but it's tough. It's hard to keep up with him."

While Wells and ROTC will be one meet away from returning to state, Mya Cody's Lutheran South Lancers and Charles Jones' Cardinal Ritter Lions teams will start the first rounds of state-qualifying at Lutheran North this Saturday.(The top four finishers in every race, event and relay advance to sectionals.)

Like Wells as a super sophomore, Cody helped lead her Lancers to the cusp of a state title last season, only to fall short by a single point to Grandview 40-39. Cody won the 400 meters in 57.27 and finished second in the 100 and 200 meters at last spring's state finals. But more recently at the aforementioned Marion Freeman meet, Cody swept the field in the 100 meters (12.19), the 200 (25.27) and the 400 meters (59.47).

"Getting out of the blocks she had the lead right away and once she gets going nobody can beat her (Cody)," said opposing Cardinal Ritter coach Samantha Betts after the 200 meters race, where her own runner Isbell Ashli, of Ritter finished second to Cody.

Cody's father, Macler Cody, a former professional football player in the National Football League and the Canadian league by way of Vashon High and Memphis State University, acknowledged that she has prepared well for such stardom.

"She has been doing this for such a long time since she was very young I'm not surprised at all by what she has accomplished," said Macler Cody. "She has ran in meets over the summer all over the country for the St. Louis Blues Track Club, so she's used to the best competition."

"I felt like I ran well," said Cody. "It was one of my better meets. Once I got out of the blocks I thought I was able to drive and push to the finish line well."

As far as the boys open 800 meters was concerned, Charles Jones of Cardinal Ritter ran better than every runner at the meet and thus far in the nation this season, in scorching through the two laps in 1 minute, 50.19 seconds, which eclipsed his own meet record. At one juncture, Jones nearest pursuer Noah Kaupppila of Marquette by over 40 meters, before the runner-up closed the gap slightly near the end by wind up with a time of 1:54.98. Jones is the two-time defending Class 3 state champ in the 800 meters, where he set the new class record of 1:49.96 as a sophomore. But he is aiming for the overall mark of 1:49.89 by Bill Rainey of Parkview back in 1987.

"I just want the state record," said Jones. "I'll do whatever it takes to get that state record. I wanted to go sub 1:50 but mainly I just wanted to have fun."

Needless to say, mindful of his dominant performance, the crowd was certainly behind Jones as he made his record push down the straightaway, which he said he revels in.

"It just motivates me more," said Jones, known as CJ. "I love hearing the crowd. I love giving them a show."

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