The State Track meet has come and gone, but as always there were historic performances all over KSHSAA's crown jewel.
Burns sets record to finish career
Wichita Trinity’s Morgan Burns was shut out of gold medals at his junior meet last season, but he would not be denied in his senior season despite the heavy workload at the meet and the cold weather.
Burns got things going in 100-meter dash with a time of 10.66 to break the nine-year-old record previously held by Wellington’s Tim Lira.
The Trinity star had to turn around and run the open 400-meter dash just hours later. Louisburg’s Mark Sitek pushed Burns for the first part of the race, but Burns’ superior strength won out as he finished in a time of 48.66.
After that, Burns was only halfway done and admitted he was a bit gassed.
“I was tired half the way through this meet because I had four events,” Burns said.
Despite his fatigue and six races over two days on his legs, Burns was able to dig deep for this meet he has been looking for all year long.
“All year my coach has been saying it’s not about the league meet or regionals, it’s all about state,” Burns said.
He was able to pull it together for one last historical performance in the 200-meter dash. Burns shot from the blocks an out-sprinted DeSoto’s Jordan Riffel in a wind-aided time of 21.58, which was quicker than Lira’s 200-meter record from nine years ago.
“That was just me being really pumped up,” Burns said. “I was really tired, but the adrenalin got going down the stretch.”
Burns finishes as a five-time gold medalist at the State Track Meet.
Liu and Fenner lead Independent girls to thirdTina Liu of Wichita Independent came into the Class 3A girls’ triple jump as the defending state champion, but a repeat was not guaranteed when the event started.
“I knew it was going to be tight and I have kind of had an off season this year, so I wasn’t too sure how I was going to perform,” Liu said.
Liu was sitting in fourth place heading into the final and needed all three of her final jumps to wrestle the title away from Hoisington’s Savannah Rose. Rose busted a leap of 37-2 on her opening jump to put the pressure on. The defending champion stepped up for her final jump in second place, but Liu was able to leap out to 37-8 to post the winning jump.
Liu anchored the Independent 400-meter relay to a gold medal just a little later. On that relay she had some help from her teammates that included double gold medalist Imani Fenner.
Just over a year ago it appeared Fenner might not have even been a part of the Independent track team, much less a state champion.
“When I first started last year I wanted to quit. I hated this sport and now I’ve grown to love it all of the sudden,” Fenner said.
Fenner won the 100 and 200 with Liu taking third and fifth in those events, but Fenner gives credit for her successes to her training partner and friend.
“My first year running was last year and Tina actually taught me how to run. I sucked at blocks. I would never be able to come out of blocks if it wasn’t for Tina,” Fenner said.The Independent girls only had six athletes at the meet, but were able to tie for third with Douglass as the Panthers and Bulldogs put up 49 points.
Carroll hurdlers lead Golden Eagle girls to 5A team title
The Carroll girls have turned themselves into a powerhouse in the hurdles this season, and the tightly bonded hurdling corp was a big reason the Golden Eagles took home the Class 5A team title with 79.50 points.
“We’re really close together,” 300-meter hurdles champion Kristen Powell said. “We do everything together.”
That togetherness included all three Carroll entries in the 300-meter hurdles making it to the podium at state together.
Powell was able to take advantage of top-seeded Cassidy Downing of Shawnee Heights tripping over a hurdle to get her win. Even with the fall by the favorite, Pittsburg’s Lauren Ouderkirk was on her hip for much of the race.
“It just made me run harder because I knew I had a chance and I knew I had to have a lot of knee drive and just make sure I didn’t hit any hurdles,” Powell said.
Powell ran a flawless race to win in a time of 45.98. Teammates Brady Nordhus and Maggie Seiler finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
The hurdlers combined for 25 of Carroll’s 79.50 points as the Golden Eagles beat the defending champion Gardner-Edgerton by nine points.
Fisher fights cold weather
Saturday’s weather was great for the distance runners, but sprint performances suffered all across the board, but Valley Center star sprinter Joe Fisher still took care of business. Fisher ran a 10.60 to win the race, but he had much higher aspirations coming into the meet.
“I thought I ran a 10.3 something to be honest with you. That’s what I was hoping for, but these are muggy conditions. I guess you can’t exactly pull that off today,” Fisher said
The Auburn commit can also take solace in that he was the No. 1 sprinter at the state meet again this year. He edged Olathe North’s Adonis Saunders from Class 6A by .01 to take home the title of fastest at the state meet.
“It does feel good to end up on top again, so I’ll take that,” Fisher said.
Fisher also finished on top of the 200 with a time of 21.59 for the second gold of his senior state meet.
Reed bounces back from first loss
Great Bend’s Alex Reed is not used to losing in the 400-meter dash. He was the two-time defending state champion going into the championship meets these last two weeks. So when he lost the 400-meter regional title to West’s Mikel Anderson last week, it knocked him back a bit.
“I got beat finally. So I just came out there and I was going to gun for him,” Reed said. “I went from being the hunted to the hunter. I was thinking about it all week long. I just had to gun for him and get him.”
That is exactly what Reed did. He keyed off of Anderson and blew him away down the last homestretch to take home his third 400-meter championship to finish of his career. He won in a time of 48.05, almost a full second better than Anderson’s 48.73 finish for second place. Hays’ Ebu Camara was third in the race.
House completes four-peat
El Dorado’s Jaimie House burst onto the scene as a freshman pole vaulter four years ago with a stellar regional meet that led to her first of many titles and accolades.
“Freshman year I was just a little girl who jumped 12 foot at regionals, but nobody believed I could do it again and I came out on top freshman year and nobody was expecting that,” House said
Nobody may have been expecting her to win as a freshman, but after winning three titles and laying claim to the Class 4A State Meet record, House was not sneaking up on anyone as a senior.
But it is the pressure that helps to drive her.
“I like the pressure. I like having everyone clapping behind me and jumping,” House said.
House took on the pressure beautifully as she won her fourth Class 4A pole vault title with a leap of 12-0.
Gaughan sets tone as Hays boys repeat
The Hays boys are seeking to win the team title and its star thrower Zack Gaughan got things started right on Saturday for the Indians with a throw of 151-9 in the discus and a gold medal.
Gaughan was out looking to set a tone for his team on Saturday.
“I feel like we’re (field events) huge for our team because field events are always first; just like discus was the first event of the day (on Saturday). We come out and perform early (and) we get our team pumped up,” Gaughan said.
Guaghan edged Western Athletic Conference rival by six inches.
Things kept rolling for the Indians early on Saturday. While Gaughan was waiting to step on the stand and receive his gold medal, Adam Deterding picked up another gold and 10 points for Hays with his win in the 110-meter hurdles.
Deterding edged Andover Central’s Cole Kretchmar by .02 with a time of 15.14. Matt Moyd of Great Bend finished third in the race.
Things kept going well for the Indians as the Indians had a placer in 14 of the 18 events at the state track meet to score 98 points and take home the team title for the second consecutive season.
Pickens completes historic career
There are many Class 2A coaches that are glad to see Peabody-Burns’ Lauren Pickens finish her career. After her sweep of the sprints on Saturday, she completed a career that saw her win four consecutive Class 2A 100, 200 and 400-meter dash titles.
She is the first athlete to accomplish the feat.
“I couldn’t expect anything better today. I’ve won 12 gold medals and I’m still speechless,” Pickens said.
Pickens was not pushed in any of her events at the state track meet as she won her three events with times of 12.46, 25.91 and 58.32 for the 100, 200 and 400, respectively. She also finishes her career with the Class 2A 400-meter dash State Meet record.
Finley upsets Milbourn
El Dorado’s Molly Milbourn dominated the 3200-meter run on Friday as she beat second-place finisher Emilea Finley by 11 seconds.
Finley took some lessons from that race that she put into play in Friday’s 800 and 1600.
“I knew I had to pass her sooner than I did in the two mile because the two-mile strategy did not work last time. It was just live and learn,” Finley said.
Finley did just that as she beat Milbourn in the mile with a time of 5:05.62, which was two seconds better than Milbourn.
Many athletes would take a win over one of the state’s premier distance runners and call it a day, but Finley was out to establish herself as the heir to Milbourn’s distance throne.
Finley threw down a 2:18.33 to edge DeSoto’s Lacey Erickson and Milbourn and claim her second gold. It was something that seemed out of the realm of possibility for Finley coming into the meet.
“I’m extremely surprised, I didn’t think it was possible,” Finley said.
Finley is only a junior, so she will enter the next cross country season as a favorite in the individual race.
Hutch Trinity seniors finally get title
Going into the football season, the Hutchinson Trinity Celtics were among the favorites to win the Class 3A title, but were tripped up in the quarterfinals with a loss to Beloit.
The Celtics and their senior leaders got a chance for another title in the Class 3A basketball tournament, but once again fell short as they were knocked out of the tournament in the first round by Wichita Collegiate.
That left track as the last chance for seniors Michael Mesh, Will Bothwell, Derek Racette and Brandon Koenigsman to bring a team title back to Hutchinson Trinity. Mesh, Bothwell and Racette played on both the football and basketball teams and Koenigsman was a part of the football team.
The seniors were able to accomplish their goal thank to the four seniors and a handful of underclassmen. Mesh swept the 100 and 200 and was a close second in the 400. Koenigsman won the discus for the Celtics. Racette finished in second of the javelin throw.
The team championship was a relief for Mesh and the seniors.
“It is one thing us seniors have wanted to do since the beginning of the year. We couldn’t do it in football or basketball. We’re just really happy to do it track,” Mesh said.
Trinity finished with 45 points, which was 10 points better than second-place Conway Springs.
Shearer gets redemption
Cunningham’s Ashley Shearer was the prohibitive favorite coming into the long jump on the opening day of the state track meet, but three faults left her out of finals and off the medal stand, ending her quest for three jump gold medals.
But Shearer still had three events to compete in on Saturday and she started off right with a win in the high jump with a leap of 5-6. The clearance helped to relax Shearer a bit.
“It took off a lot (of pressure). I knew that coming into today that I just have to shake off what happened yesterday (and) come out with a positive attitude that I will bounce back to where I need to be,” Shearer said.
Shearer continued her stellar second day with a win in the triple jump by more than two feet with a leap of 37-9.25. That jump was the second best distance for girls at the state meet regardless of class.
Kresin caps career with 800-meter win
St. John’s of Beloit’s Vanessa Kresin has been working towards one goal for four years: a state championship. She had a chance to realize that goal going into the Class 1A 800-meter run with the top seed time, but Tribune’s Kennedy Schneider was standing in her way.
Schneider had already claimed gold medals in the 1600 and 3200. Going into the homestretch of the 800-meter run, Schneider and Kresin were side-by-side when Kresin started to kick it in.
“I was just thinking that I have to kick it,” Kresin said. “I’ve got to give it all I have (because) this is the last 100 I have to race ever, so go out strong.”
Kresin went out very strong with a time of 2:24.65 to win the title.
“This means the world,” Kresin said of the title. “I’ve been wanting this for four years and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Schneider finished second just one second behind in a time of 2:25.79.
Siale gets two
Chaparral’s John Siale ended his day in disappointment yesterday with a third place finish in the discus. But if there were any lingering effects from the day discus finish, it did not show in the shot put on Saturday. The native of Tonga said he had one goal in mind coming into the shot put.
“Just dominating all over,” Siale said his aspirations in shot put.
Siale seemed calm and collected from the start as he was walking around and chatting up bystanders before the throws.
“The first couple throws I just talk to guys and I say ‘hey want to see something cool?’ Then I say, ‘watch this and then I go throw,” Siale said.
His third throw was the one that would be something to see. He launched the shot 56-3.5, which was a distance that would hold for the rest of the competition.
Nightengale anchors El Dorado to victory
When El Dorado senior Casey Nightengale took the baton in the Class 4A boys 3200-meter relay, he faced the daunting task of chasing down front-running Wamego, but it was a situation that Nightengale is familiar with.
“I’ve been in that spot (the lead) before. I know how easy it is to be caught it you let your guard down for a little bit,” Nightengale said.
Nightengale bided his time and found his opening in the last 250 meters as he chased down the Wamego anchor to claim the 3200-meter relay title for El Dorado in his senior season with a time of 8:14.27 as a team.