Quick learning curve leads Helias’ Malmstrom to medal

Matthew Malmstrom’s journey to the medal stand began on a rainy day last year.

Helias’ track training had been moved indoors due to weather, and then freshman Malmstrom was training with some of his team friends.

“We were in the gym, I had done hurdles before high school, but I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to do in track and field,” he said. “I was just messing around with a couple of my buddies and they wanted me to get in the way for them and I said ‘sure’.”

A coach saw Malmstrom and called head coach Phil Pitts to look.

“He told me I was running hurdles tomorrow,” Malmstrom said. “I was like, wait, what?”

Helias traveled to Ste. Geneviève the next day for a meet and Malmstrom finished third for a successful start in the 300-meter hurdles.

“The rest is history,” Malmstrom said.

It really is history as Malmstrom set a Helias school record with a time of 38.44 seconds on Saturday afternoon to finish second in the Class 4 State Track and Field Championships at Adkins Stadium.

“At the start of the season I thought I wanted this record and I got it today,” Malmstrom said.

That beat the 39.0 mark held by Nathan Prenger.

“For him to come out and get that moment on a big stage like the state meet, I’m so happy for him,” Pitts said.

Malmstrom took a big leap forward in the 300m after finishing eighth in the sectional championships last year.

“After where I come from, I’m happy to be second,” he said.

Malmstrom, who won his preliminary run on Friday clocking 39.55 to qualify for Saturday, uses his athletic ability to pull through.

“It’s the speed between the hurdles,” Malmstrom said. “I don’t have the best form, but I have the speed to make up for some of that.”

Rhett Foster, a senior from Smithville, won the state title in 38.33.

Malmstrom failed to advance to the 110-meter hurdles final, posting the ninth fastest time on Friday as the top eight advance.

“I would have liked to be in the 110 final, but not making it motivated me for today,” he said.

Malmstrom won a second state medal later Saturday, running the anchor leg of the Helias 4×400-meter relay. The Crusaders – with Korbin Fisher, Noah Voss and Ethan Wilson joining Malmstrom – finished third in 3:24.38.

Those two events accounted for Helias’ 14 team points as the Crusaders finished tied at three for 16th in the team standings.

Voss ran in Helias’ other event at State, finishing ninth on Saturday in the 800 meters in 2:01.21.

Kearney won the Class 4 boys’ tag team title with 64 points. West Plains was second with 40, followed by Festus (46) and MICDS (41).


Mikah Edwards was able to add to his collection of state medals on Saturday as junior Helias added three to the four she won last year.

“It went pretty well,” Edwards said. “To go out and place nationally in three events, I’m pretty happy.”

Edwards started her day running the anchor leg of the 4×200-meter relay. Schyler Phillips, Isabelle Struemph and Kenadi Harrison joined Edwards in taking second place with a record time of 1:43.13. This improved the mark by more than a second.

“It was awesome,” Edwards said. “We’ve been working on this all year and it means a lot to all of us.”

Edwards’ next event was the 400 meters.

“I was racing against great competition,” Edwards said.

Zaya Akins of Raytown South won the event with a record time of 53.41. It was over three seconds faster than anyone on the court.

“She’s so good, it was a race for second place,” Edwards said.

Edwards finished third in 56.63 to break her own school record, just 0.04 behind runner-up Nnenna Okpara of Parkway Central.

“I wanted second place so badly, it was so close,” she said. “Next year will be my year”

Edwards’ day ended with the 200 meters. She said she wasn’t confident heading into Friday’s preliminaries with just the eighth fastest time in the 16-person field.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it to the final,” Edwards said.

Instead, she finished second in her heat and entered Saturday’s final with the third fastest time at 25.75.

It was time to adjust his way of thinking.

“I just wanted to get on the podium in the top three, keep my spot,” Edwards said.

She did just that, finishing third in 24.86. It was just 0.02 less than equaling Helias’ record.

“She’s amazing,” Pitts said. “From the first day I trained her, I said she’s as tough as she comes, she’s as strong as she comes. I’m so proud of the day she had today. today.

Edwards had a chance for a fourth medal on Saturday as the Lady Crusaders 4×100 meters relay team qualified for the final. But the decision was made for her to rest before running the 400 and 200.

The Lady Crusaders team of Phillips, Struemph, Harrison and Sammi Emhke finished seventh in 50.03.

“It was great to see these girls racing, they did a great job,” Edwards said.

Ehmke won a state medal in his senior season.

“Sammi has done so much for our program and our school and I’m so glad she got the chance to race in the state for us,” Pitts said. “We really are a team and they showed it today.”

That attitude showed again in the 4×800 meters relay as the Lady Crusaders finished 10th in 10:09.23 with the foursome of Lauren Verslues, Alexa Lamb, Ava Morrisey and Danielle Buker. Iris Morrisey, who competed in the event in district and section competitions, served as the alternate.

“All five bought into the team track concept,” Pitts said. “They’ve really supported each other and I’m proud of what they’ve achieved.”

The Lady Crusaders finished 14th in the team standings with 22 points. Parkway Central finished first with 78 points, while West Plains was second with 52. Kearney (45) and Nerinx Hall (38) rounded out the trophy winners.

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