Washington Evening Journal
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Buffington, Burton bring home gold
Area leapers kick off state meet with long jump championships
DES MOINES — It certainly didn’t take much time to start the Union area’s state championship barrage at the 2023 state track and field meet.
The first two long jump competitions of the weekend both went to Union area athletes, as Winfield-Mount Union’s Cam Buffington and Highland’s Sarah Burton both earned their first-ever state titles.
Buffington shot up eight spots from last year’s ninth-place finish, leaping 21 feet, 8 inches to etch his name on the Class 1A boys championship list.
“It's pretty sweet,” Buffington said. “Last year I was ninth and missed the finals by one place, so it's pretty cool to come back and win it.”
Buffington went out and lept 21-06.25 on his first jump, before improving on his second, which ended up being the winner. All five jumps that weren’t scratches would have been enough to win the title.
“It went pretty quick,” Buffington said. “My first jump was enough to win it, so that was a big weight off my chest.”
Buffington beat a tough field, which included three other Union area athletes. Columbus’ Kaden Amigon took third, jumping 20-11.50. WACO’s Simeon Reichenbach was sixth, leaping 20-07.75, and Hillcrest Academy’s Owen Scott was 11th, jumping 20-00.75.
Buffington’s win accounted for 10 of WMU’s 11 points on the weekend. Gabriel Hemsworth picked up one point with his eight-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles, and Kohlby Newsom came up just one spot short with a ninth-place result in the 800.
After the boys long jump awards were given out, it was time for the girls to hit the sand, and another area junior had her eyes on the gold.
Highland’s Sarah Burton, who took third in the event last year, dominated the Class 1A girls long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 8.25 inches to win her first state title.
“I honestly couldn't believe it,” Burton said. “I've watched so many amazing athletes here, and I was like, 'I want to be them. I want to be that first place.'”
Like Buffington, Burton smashed the competition in all of her jumps. Her winning mark came on the fifth jump, but all of her first five eclipsed 17 feet. No other jumper ever hit that mark.
“I felt pretty good, knowing I was consistently in the 17s,” Burton said. “I've been a little bit slacking in the past two weeks.”
Burton, who qualified in four events, including two relays, scooped all of Highland’s 11 points on the weekend. She also took eighth in the 100-meter dash.
Highland’s 4X100 and 4X200 teams, which also featured Lilly Barre, Katelyn Waters and Mackenzie McFarland, took 22nd and 23rd respectively.
“I'm so excited for my team,” Burton said. “I'm happy that our seniors got to run together one last time.”
Both Buffington and Burton are just juniors, meaning both will get a shot to make it back-to-back championships next season.