Girl Power: Glendale meet showcases female talent

Apr. 4—SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — While boys often steal the limelight when it comes to high school sports, the Glendale Girls Night Out focuses solely on high school females who compete in track and field.

On Thursday, 38 high school teams from all parts of Missouri and all exclusively female gathered at Parkview's JFK Stadium for the annual event hosted by Glendale High School in Springfield.

Nicole Sipes, longtime Carthage Girls track and field coach, has been bringing her squad to the girls-only meet for about 10 years and said it is unique in a number of ways.

"We love coming to this meet," Sipes said. "It's a meet we look forward to coming to every year. It's a great team-bonding experience and a highly competitive meet. "

Sipes said because no team scores are tallied at the meet, it allows coaches to try girls out on different events without affecting the team's score.

"A lot of the pressure is off of us," Sipes said. "We can put some people in different spots and try some different things."

Sipes said that is advantageous to coaches, especially early in the season.

She said the exclusion of team scoring also allows athletes to concentrate on setting their own personal records, instead of focusing on scoring team points.

Sipes said the girls she brings to the meet often comment on the high level of competition.

"A lot of the meets we go to, we see the same teams every meet," Sipes said. "This is a great chance for these girls to see some of these high-quality track athletes, compete against them and see where they are at."

Sipes said the talent level for female athletes has noticeably increased through the years.

"As I've gone through years of going to meets with the girls, the competition and the quality of the females has just gotten better and better each year," Sipes said. "And this meet keeps getting better and better too."

Sipes said the day also provides a bonding experience for the girls, not just from teammate to teammate, but from school to school.

"You can just kind of feel it when you are here," Sipes said. "You can really feel the excitement between the girls."

Webb City senior hurdler Cassady Ryberg participated in her first Girls Night Out on Thursday and said she noticed a difference right away.

"It's a lot more easygoing," Ryberg said. "Everybody is a lot more supportive. It's happier environment almost. It's also a lot more quiet. With the guys, it tends to get a lot louder."

Ryberg also said she likes the fact that it is not a team-scored event.

"I think it makes you want to work harder for yourself and improve your own abilities," Ryberg said.

Carl Junction pole vaulter Acadia Badgley said she enjoys the higher level of competition.

"There's a lot more teams at this meet, so the competition is really good," Badgley said. "We see some of the best girls in the state here."

Badgley also said she thinks the meet is important because it puts the focus on the females — at least for a day.

"A lot of the times the guys have better times and distances, so it's more impressive," she said. "The girls just kind of get overlooked, but here we get to see girls do some really impressive things."

Badgley said she also noticed camaraderie between the girls from different schools at the meet.

"I'm friends with numerous other vaulters from other schools and we are all cheering for each other because it's fun to watch everybody succeed," Badgley said.

Joplin javelin thrower Megan Meeker, who set a new personal best of her own on Thursday, said she thinks the all-girl meet is a good idea.

"I really like it and it's also a good team-bonding experience as well," Meeker said. "We get out of school the whole day and hang out with one another and cheer each other on."

It's not readily clear how long the meet has taken place, but longtime Springfield Kickapoo coach Jeremy Goddard said he remembers the meet from his high school days in the late 1980s.

"It's a neat environment where they get to come out here and compete in a big-time meet with a lot of really tough competition. It has always been that way. Getting a medal at this meet is really quite an accomplishment."

Goddard said teams from as far as Kansas City and St. Louis have attended.

Friday features an all-male meet in Springfield, hosted by Hillcrest.