By CAROL SWENSON
Kansas High School Track & Field Historian for CatchItKansas.com
10:34 AM EDT, March 16, 2011
The KSHSAA celebrated its 100th Anniversary State Championship last season. Now it’s time to look forward to what the 101st year of Kansas prep track and field will bring.
Highlighting the centennial year of Kansas prep track and field were six all-time bests, split four-two in favor of the girls over the boys. Those were the following:
100 meters – 10.34 by Oliver Bradwell. Oliver posted the legal wind time at the Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was one of two Kansas preps that competed on the national scene last year, but not for his Kansas high school. He later placed fourth at the USATF National Junior Championships in the 100 meters, earning a spot on the USA National Junior Team 4x100m relay which won gold at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada, in July. Oliver is competing this year for Barton Community College in Great Bend.
Javelin – 238’4” by Johannes Swanepoel (SM South). The three-time state champion was later named the 2010 Gatorade Kansas Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year. His season best was the #2 national prep javelin mark for 2010 and ranks as the #3 all-time best national prep mark. He will begin his collegiate career this spring when the University of Kansas begins its outdoor season.
100 meters – 11.61 by Macahla Wesley (Topeka West). The only All-Time Kansas Best record holder returning to the prep ranks in 2011, Wesley’s all-time, fully automatic state best came early in her sophomore season. She posted a Class 5A state meet record in the 200 meters preliminaries before an mid-season injury reared its ugly head again in the 100 meter state finals where she placed third, then kept her out of the 200 finals.
Shot Put – 51’10 ¾” and Discus – 166’7” by Kearsten Peoples (Ottawa). Peoples was named the 2010 Gatorade Kansas Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year after her double all-time state prep best season. The three-time 4A shot and twice 4A discus state champion, she now competes collegiately for the University of Missouri.
Pole Vault – 12’8” by Drue Davis (Lawrence Free State). The two-time 6A state champion wrapped up her senior prep season by setting the all-time Kansas best at 2010 Regional Meet before clearing a 6A state meet record height of 12’6” the following week in Wichita.
Besides Wesley, who are among the notables returning for the 2011 season. The following returnees had 2010 performances that are already listed among Kansas’ all-time top ten:
100 meters – Joe Fisher (Valley Center), 10.44 ranks tied for #9 on the All-Time Kansas prep list.
Javelin – Macauley Garton (Mill Valley), the defending 5A champion’s 213’10” ranks #7 A-T KS HS.
100 meter Hurdles – LeTristan Pledger (Kansas City Washington), the three-time state champion’s 13.90 ranks #3 A-T KS HS.
Pole Vault – Jaimie House (ElDorado), 12’3” ties the three-time state champion for #4 A-T KS HS.
Cassie Wait (Gardner-Edgerton), the 5A state champion as a freshman cleared 12’0” in 2010 to move into a tie for #9 A-T KS HS.
Long Jump – LeTristan Pledger (Kansas City Washington), 20’3” ranks #2 A-T KS HS. Set her personal best while placing third at the first IAAF Youth Olympics in Singapore. The seven-time Kansas state champion (i.e., 100m once, 200m once, 100m hurdles three times, long jump twice) had earlier placed sixth at the 2010 USATF National Junior Championships.
Triple Jump – Jamillah Bonner (Wichita Southeast), the defending 6A state champion jumped 40’3” in 2010 to move into a tie for #3 on the all-time Kansas prep list.
A couple of up-and-comers to watch as the 2011 season opens will be:
High Jump – Alexa Thomas led Kansas in 2010 with her clearance of 5’7 ¾” in the high jump as an eighth grader at Lawrence Southwest Junior High.
Pole Vault – Emily Brigham (Mill Valley) cleared 12’4” indoors at the Just Vault Indoor Winter Championships in Kearney, Missouri, in February, vaulting the sophomore into the #3 spot on the A-T KS HS list. That clearance is almost two feet better than her 2010 best of 10’6”.
Athletes who have already have a place in state meet history and return in 2011 to reinforce those places in Kansas prep track and field history will include:
Lauren Pickens (Peabody) returns for her senior season as a nine-time state champion with three straight 100/200/400-meter sweeps.
Hallie Kuhlman (Wallace County-Sharon Springs) is already an eight-time state champion entering her junior season, claiming the only 100/200/400/800-meter sweeps in state meet history.
Ashley Shearer (Cunningham), the three-time state triple jump champion, added state meet titles in the high jump and long jump to her prep career resumé as a junior in 2010.
Erin Merklein (South Barber-Kiowa) returns as the three-time defending state champion in the 100 meter hurdles.
Heather Ruder (Thomas More Prep-Marian-Hays) opened her high school state meet career with a sweep of the 800/1600/3200 meters as a freshman in 2010.
2010 will be a tough act to follow, but year-in and year-out Kansas high school track and field always has its fair share of outstanding performers and I believe 2011 will be no different.
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