LEXINGTON — Competitors at Thursday’s Don Bader Invitational in Lexington dealt with all kinds of weather — sun and wind, rain and wind, sleet and wind, and hail and wind.
Through it all, Lexington’s Madison Smith managed to win.
“Despite all the ice hitting me in my face and stabbing me in the back of my calves — it was pretty cold — but it was OK. We managed to get through it,” Smith said.
She won the long jump with two jumps over 19 feet, stretching her own school record to 19-2 1/2.
She won the 100-meter dash, zipping down the track in 12.21 seconds.
She won the 200-meter dash in a time of 25.84.
The only event she didn’t win was the 4x400 relay where Axtell’s girls made the most of their opportunity stepping up in class to run away from the field and win by more than seven seconds over the Minutemaids.
“I really enjoyed breaking that school record I set last year (in the long jump) by an inch and a quarter today. But my favorite thing is running with the girls. That 4x4 (relay) is one of my favorite events because we actually get to incorporate the team aspect and push it all out there,” Smith said.
After the race, she provided a lot of encouragement to her teammates, trying to lift their spirits after the defeat.
“I love supporting my teammates. They all mean so much to me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without them being here and being able to pursue what they want and pursue what I have to do to get where I want to be.”
Smith’s day started in the long jump, an event that started then was stopped by lightning from one of the several squalls that passed over Ray Ehlers Stadium. The pole vault, only a few feet from the jumps runways, was canceled after a second stoppage.
Smith made her 19-2 jump on her first attempt.
She said the delay was “kind of upsetting but we still had the chance to get our run-throughs and get the meet back on schedule.”
Her second jump also eclipsed 19 feet, and while the tail wind helped all the jumpers, she has added a few extra inches with a change in technique.
“I’m definitely learning how to get my legs in front of me now. It’s really helping. Last year I couldn’t really do that, but I’m getting the hang of things this year,” she said.
But on her third jump, “I decided not to put my legs in front of me and went 18-7.”
She didn’t use her finals jumps yet won the competition by more than two feet.
From there, she turned her attention to the sprints where she won both comfortably. The tail wind helped, but the assortment of weather factors that came with it could have made for a long day.
“It kind of helped me I think,” Smith said. “I really didn’t have a negative mindset going into that, which I usually do when bad weather’s around. Today ... I just used it to make myself positive energy.
“I had to warm up a little more effectively today and get my mindset right. I had to do a little more mental work.”
Kearney Catholic’s Kayla Lee was the runner-up to Smith in the long jump and hurdles, while teammate Nicole Messbarger provided the closest chase in the 200. Messbarger won the 400, which is Smith’s other specialty when not running the relay or one of the sprints.
Lexington’s Maddi Sutton was the only other double winner in the girls events, sweeping the shot put and discus.
For the boys, Lexington’s Ajack Waikur and Alexis Hernandez and Axtell’s Lane Bertrand were double winners.
Waikur won the long jump and triple jump. Hernandez won the 1,600 and 3,200 with teammate Yanni Vasquez in his hip pocket. And Bertrand won the two hurdles races.
The closest race of the day was the 200 where Kearney Catholic’s Emmett Black edged teammate Heinrich Haarberg by one one-hundredth of a second. Haarberg had won the 100.
Ehlers, the stadium’s namesake, was in attendance. He has been recovering from a stroke he suffered last year and has been rehabilitating in Lincoln. His granddaughter, Ryanne, and a handful of her Eaton, Colo., teammates competed in the meet. She finished fourth in the 100.