In more ways than one, the 2020-21 school year was unlike any other for College Heights Christian School.
And it’s one that won’t soon be forgotten.
In the final sporting event of a school year impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, College Heights Christian’s girls track and field squad captured the team title at the MSHSAA Class 1 Track and Field Championships in Jefferson City.
The state title capped an extraordinary year for College Heights athletics.
It was a school year that featured a girls cross country state championship, a district title in volleyball, stellar basketball seasons and concluded with historic success in softball and track.
There were non-athletic achievements as well.
“Even with the whole COVID thing, this has been a great year for College Heights,” said Daniel Lewis, CHC’s principal and head track coach. “We had school almost as normal, especially in the second semester. We didn’t have a single kid in the second semester get COVID. We had class in person every single day and I think that played a factor in athletics. COVID made it a weird year. But in my opinion, around here it was the closest to a normal year of any school in this area.”
In a day to remember, and in a memorable way to conclude the school year, College Heights’ girls captured the Class 1 team championship this past Saturday by compiling 62 points. It’s the first team title for the girls program.
“Our girls performed extremely well,” Lewis said. “Every single one of the kids PR’d over the weekend and we broke four school records. It was great to see. We knew they were capable. They really stepped up. We had a good week of practice. They worked well together and they did all the right things and they were focused. We have a lot of younger girls, and for them to stay focused was very important.”
College Heights captured gold in four events, including a pair of relays.
The 4×100-meter relay team of Jayli Johnson, Allie Fiscus, Lauren Ukena and Addie Lawrence crossed the line first with a time of 51.23 seconds. Fiscus is a senior, while Johnson, Ukena and Lawrence are sophomores.
The Cougars also won the 4×200 relay, with Johnson, Fiscus, Ukena and Lawrence finishing in 1:47.44. The Class 1 record time is 1:47.07.
Both the 4×100 and 4×200 set school records with their respective times.
Johnson, sophomore Katie Moss, Ukena and senior Grace Bishop placed third in the 4×400 relay.
In addition to anchoring the winning relays, Lawrence also won two individual events.
Lawrence took first in the 100-meter dash in 12.5 seconds. She crossed the line first in the 400 with a time of 57.5, over two seconds faster than the runner-up. Both times are school records.
“It was the first time we’ve ever won a sprint relay and it’s the first time we’ve won an open sprint in our school’s history,” Lewis said of his team’s historic day. “It’s quite an achievement.”
After missing out on a track season as a freshman, it’s safe to say Lawrence had a breakout season in 2021.
“I coached the sophomores in middle school, they broke all the relay records, so we knew they had the talent,” Lewis said. “After a year off, Addie came back and it was like ‘wow’ all of a sudden. She broke the school record in the 400 by two seconds, so that was amazing. She did great…and she played softball. We’re looking forward to her future.”
In the final outing of what’s been a standout four-year prep career, Bishop reached the podium in two individual events, as she was the runner-up in the 3200 and took fourth in the 1600. Johnson also finished sixth in the 200.
What makes the girls track team’s accomplishment even more significant is the fact that team members participated in multiple sports this spring.
Lawrence, Johnson and Ukena were among the track athletes who also played spring softball.
The College Heights (with McAuley) softball team won a conference championship, captured the program’s first district title, set a school record for wins (18) and advanced to the state quarterfinals.
Bishop split her time between track and soccer.
A standout forward who will play collegiately at John Brown, Bishop played a key role as the McAuley (with CHC) soccer team went 14-3 and advanced to a district title game.
“I think that’s one of the great things about small schools,” Lewis said. “They’re able to compete in multiple sports and we encourage that. We like the kids to be involved in as many things as possible. At times, it was difficult trying to get all the practices in and sharing athletes. But those girls were willing to sacrifice to do both. Sometimes they’d practice and then go to a softball game. Or they’d go to a softball game and then come to track practice. That kind of dedication and just trying to give it their best for the Lord really paid off.”
Also of note, the CHC boys finished second in the 4×800 relay at state to cap their season in fine fashion.
The school year as a whole was a successful one for College Heights athletics.
The CHC girls won the Class 1 cross country championship back in November. It was the girls cross country program’s first state title.
CHC’s volleyball team and girls and boys basketball teams also had stellar seasons. The volleyball squad went 24-4 and advanced to the state quarterfinals. The CHC girls basketball team went 22-3 and advanced to a district title game, while the boys hoops squad won 17 games, captured a district crown and played in the sectional round for the first time in program history.
Lewis noted the school’s scholar bowl team won a state title, even after being bumped up to Class 4 due to the ‘championship factor.’
Both track teams won conference titles, and after the softball team’s memorable postseason run ended, the school’s girls track and field championship put a final exclamation point on a memorable school year for College Heights.
“We’ve had a great year,” Lewis said, summing it up. “I think the kids stayed on track, they stayed focused and that’s what it takes.”