By Fred Liggett
The state of Missouri is known as the Show-Me State and a pair of Lee’s Summit track athletes were honored nationally last month for what they showed others in the recently completed spring sports season.
Lee’s Summit High record-setting pole vaulter KC Lightfoot and Lee’s Summit West’s Makayla Kelby made Lee’s Summit the home of both recipients of the 2017-18 Gatorade Missouri Boys & Girls track and field athletes of the year. Lightfoot is the first boy’s track and field winner from Lee’s Summit while Kelby becomes the first girl’s track and field winner from Lee’s Summit West.
High school track and field followers in the Kansas City metro area are not surprised by this as Lightfoot, a two-time state champion finished his senior year with an 18-foot vault that set an all-time state meet record. Kelby won the state title in discus for the fourth straight year but also won a second straight state title in the shot put.
Coaches of the two state champions are thrilled to see these two receive this national honor and bring extra attention to their programs.
Lee’s Summit track coach Craig Heeney says “The Gatorade Player of the Year is a well-deserved honor for Lightfoot and we had a great relationship the four years he was here.”
Lee’s Summit West track coach Jesse Griffin states, “Makayla is one of the more detailed and precise athletes I have ever seen. She works extremely hard and is what I would call a perfectionist.”
Lee’s Summit can expect to hear these two names well into the future if both coaches’ predictions for their star athletes come true.
Coach Griffin feels, “The sky is the limit for Makayla. She has aspirations to be an Olympic thrower and I think it’s possible.” Griffin adds, “She is the best girls track and field athlete to come out of our program in our 14-year history.”
Kelby has committed to the University of Washington where she will compete in track and field.
Coach Heeney speaks of Lightfoot’s work ethic, “He has been a dedicated year-round vaulter since seventh grade.”
Lightfoot’s father put a pole vault pit in his back yard to help his son’s training. In addition to his back yard Lightfoot also trains year round at an indoor facility with Todd Cooper.
Heeney also comments that, “KC showed nothing by class this season at all the meets and broke every meet record he vaulted in.”
Lightfoot is set to attend Baylor University on a scholarship to continue his career.
Heeney feels, “He will be an all-American all four seasons he competes.”
Bud Yazel, pole vault coach at Lee’s Summit, says, “He will be more surprised if KC does not make the Olympics than if he does.”
Now that Lightfoot and Kelby have shown the state of Missouri their award winning talents expect these two Show-Me state natives to show the nation what Lee’s Summit has known all along.