Poplar Bluff's Deaton wins muddy district race

JACKSON, Mo. Jaden Deaton kept his feet under him running a muddy 3.1-mile course at Jackson City Park on Saturday as the Poplar Bluff senior won the MSHSAA Class 4 District 1 race.

Rain before and during the meet made conditions slippery for runners trying to advance to the sectional round.

"That was, by far, the craziest race I've seen coaching," said Poplar Bluff coach Beth Lewis-Muse.

Deaton won the race in 17 minutes, 15.20 seconds. It was only eight seconds slower than his time placing fourth last year on the same course.

"The first part of the race I was looking at the ground," said Deaton, who is the first Poplar Bluff runner since John-Mark Lewis in 2005 to win the district race.

Deaton said SLUH senior Lucas Rackers was in front of him heading into the final sharp turn but slipped.

"He started going hard down the hill, and then he took a sharp turn around the corner and kind of slipped," Deaton said. "He actually fell so I jumped over him and started sprinting as hard as I could to the finish."

Lewis-Muse said he warned her runners prior to the race to stay on the outside of the pack to find good footing.

"Whenever there was a sharp turn it was really, really hard just because the Gator that went through before really messed it up, so it was all slushy," Deaton said.

Rackers finished second just under 5 seconds after Deaton but a second ahead of his teammate as the Junior Bills won the team title with 24 points followed by Lindbergh with 82, Webster Groves (88) and Jackson (90).

"I felt bad because he fell but I knew somebody was going to fall going around the turn really sharp, so I went wide," Deaton said. "I think he was thinking he could get a shorter turn so he wouldn't have to go as wide, but I wanted to play it safe so I didn't fall."

The Mules finished 10th with 279 points.

Poplar Bluff's girls finished 10th with 216 points led by Salah McCormack in 44th place. The sophomore finished in 23:12, missing the top-30 cut to advance to sectionals by 47 seconds.

Deaton will attempt to join nine other Mules as multiple state qualifiers Saturday at the sectional meet. Last year he finished 64th at state in 17:18.

"Whenever I get around districts, sectionals and state it's a lot easier to race and I'm not thinking about how this hurts or (time), I'm just, I got to put myself in that position the whole time," Deaton said.

After the girls race tore up the course, Deaton said he was just focused on staying with the pack. He said the rain and conditions helped him.

"I think it made it easier just because I wasn't focused on how bad I was hurting, or anything like that," Deaton said. "I was just making sure I had good footing and was right with them."

With a half mile left, Deaton said it was just him and Rackers.

"You can try to run safe, yo ucan try to run smart but there's going to be parts of the course that's about survival, if you're going to stay in the race or not," Lewis-Muse said.

Poplar Bluff's Tristan Gillihan finished 67th for the Mules at 21:13 while senior Aaron Taylor (21:57) was 71st followed by Brent Worley (21:59). Ashten Hayman (22:11) placed 76th while sophomore Wyatt Rowcliff (23:05) was 83rd and senior Ross Dare (23:13) was 85th.

Alexis Richardson, a junior, finished 70th in 25:42 while sophomore Tymber Colvin (26:30) was 74th, Paige Bradley (26:59) was 76th, Julia Smothers (28:26) finished 79th and Kenya Jones (28:55) was 81st.

The sectional race is set for Parkway Central High School in St. Louis with the top 30 runners advancing to state the following weekend in Columbia.

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