BRANSON — Jack Bowers’ rehab from a broken foot was rewarded Thursday, as he returned to competition for Ozark and was part of the Tigers’ winning 4 x 200 relay at the Branson Relays.
Bowers suffered a broken metatarsal in his right foot last fall during football season. He was cleared to resume athletics participation Jan. 4.
"It took longer than I expected,” Bowers said of his rehab. “But it healed. Everything feels natural. I feel great. I feel faster than last year.
“I love track season,” he added. “I love competing, being head-to-head against another guy and going full-force the best I can.”
Bowers saw more playing time on the gridiron than anticipated during his sophomore season. He stepped in at running back after an ankle injured wiped out Jacob Kronebusch’s junior season. Bowers responded with 77 carries for 451 yards.
But his season ended early. He was carted off the field after Ozark’s Week Eight trip to Webb City.
“I broke the metatarsal against Neosho (in Week Seven). I was getting tackled from behind and a guy came down on the back of my foot,” Bowers said. “I played the Webb City game with a lot of pain. I loaded up with Ibuprofen. After every drive, I was in so much pain that I was crying. I kept on going and pushed through the pain. The whole team was there supporting me. I didn't want to give up on them.”
Bowers teamed up Thursday with Sam Clark, Will Scheer and Hunter Johnson in the 4 x 200 relay. They posted a 1:35.15 while winning by more than two full seconds.
“Our handoffs can get better. We haven't had much time to work on them,” Bowers said.
A botched hand-off by Ozark’s 4 x 100 relay led to their disqualification. That foursome included Bowers, Ben Miller, Kronebusch and Jake Beets.
“We could have won the race if we had good handoffs,” Bowers said. “We’re going to get real good real fast.”
Thursday’s meet was also Kronebusch’s return from his ankle injury and Johnson 's return from a hamstring injury he suffered last year.
“It's a relief we're all healthy,” Bowers said.
The Tigers’ Ryan Dotson won the javelin (166-1) by more than 16 feet, Gabe Bauer took first in the 1,600 (4:32) and 3,200 (9:57) and Peyton Ligon won the high jump (6-1.5).
For the Lady Tigers, Kopelyn Delong won the 3,200 in 12:11.25, as she edged Republic's Mihane Nambra (12:11.66). Delong also won the 1,600 (5:34).
Ozark’s Ella Counts was first in the 200 (28.25), as was Adri Wakeman in the 300 hurdles (51.43), Abi Cassell in the 800 (2:35), Allie Muggenburg in the javelin (113-5) and Abby Beets in the pole vault (9-01/4).
The Lady Tigers also received firsts from their 4 x 400 relay (4:22) of Wakeman, Cassell, Ellie Kitchin and Blaire Pace, their 4 x 200 relay (1:50.95) of Ella Counts, Emma Godwin, Wakeman and Pace and their 4 x 100 relay (53.78) of Counts, Godwin, Ashya Thompson and Mallory Beets.