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Nixa's Williams and Hopkins both medal in pole vault; Ashley earns two medals


JEFFERSON CITY — Nixa’s Eva Williams adjusted well enough to a 13-pound pole to finish fourth in the pole vault by clearing 11-10 3/4 at State over the weekend.

Williams made the jump from a 12.6-pound pole to 13 in preparation for State.

“I had never jumped with it until a couple days ago,” Williams said. “I had to get used to the weight of it. I carried (Nixa senior Afton Hopkins’ 14-pound) pole. I walked around for a couple minutes holding that, so my 13 felt lighter. It definitely worked. I could not get on the 13 before that because I was so scared of the weight.”

Williams nearly set herself up for a showdown with first-place Anna Ferguson, of Battle. Williams just missed clearing 12-1 1/2.

“On my first attempt, I had already gone over but hit (the bar) with my leg going down,” Williams said. "I tried my best, but just couldn't finish it.”

The second- and third-place finishers also went out at 11-10 3/4, but had fewer misses than Williams.

“I'm proud,” she said. “It's my first time at State. I'm happy about medaling. I'm hoping next year I can be at 13-0.”

Williams has doubled her PR over the past couple of years.

“I was watching a video from my freshman year the other day and it makes me feel good seeing where I used to be,” she said. “It was a chaotic mess. I laughed for a solid minute. I used to be so proud of my little 6-0 jump.”

The Lady Eagles’ Taylor Hopper completed her junior year by finishing ninth in the 200 (25.41).

On the boys side, Nixa’s Afton Hopkins and Aaron Ashley also earned medals.

Hopkins ended his Eagles career by finishing fifth in the pole vault by clearing 14-8 3/4.

Ashley ran the anchor leg on the Eagles’ sixth-place 4 x 800 relay (7:54) and was seventh in the 1,600 (4:12.54).

Ashley took Nixa from far back in the pack while passing a slew of runners in the 4 x 800 relay.

“That was a big adrenaline rush, the biggest meet of the year and great competition,” Ashley said.

He was 15th in the 3,200 (10:01) and 16th in the 800 (2:00.62).

Ashley was the Eagles’ first State qualifier in four events in recent history. He set an 800 school record at Sectionals to up his school records total to four.

The Eagles’ 4 x 200 relay was 14th (1:29.35), as was their 4 x 400 relay (3:24.83), while their 4 x 100 relay was 16th (42.82).