The eight-ring circus that is the state track meet kicked off on Friday with the small-class 3200-meter runs as the first championship events completed, then the field events and preliminary events took center stage. The first day concluded with yet another round of 3200-meter runs that saw area athlets shine.
Thor learns from experience
The last two years in Class 5A McPherson’s Adam Porter and Hays’ Josh Munsch have been the unquestioned mid-distance and distance kings. On Friday, Bishop Carroll junior David Thor showed how much he learned from the best after winning the 3200-meter run on Friday evening.
“I have to say that the last two state meets that I ran at helped me a lot,” Thor said. “Running against Adam Porter and Josh Munsch and all those guys, they’re just some of the best runners to ever come through the state of Kansas. All that stuff helped me prepare for this.”
The experience was evident throughout as Thor let the leaders take off through the first few laps as he faded back into the middle of the pack, but it was all part of his plan.
“I just learned to back it off because I’ll eat it in the end if I don’t,” Thor said. “I think it’s just a good idea to go out a little slower than everyone else.”
Then Thor and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Alex Weitkamp went into the championship laps, battling the whole last half of the race, but the Carroll star was just biding his time. Thor flashed his superior 800-meter speed to put five seconds between himself and Weitkamp in only 200 meters to win with a time of 9:37.85.
Thor will try to complete his own Class 5A distance triple tomorrow with the 1600 and 800.
Landes narrowly misses record
Mulvane’s Evan Landes has been the Class 4A distance king since his loss in the 3200-meter run last season at the State Track Meet. Friday evening his quest for the gold medal succeeded, but his goal of breaking a 30-year-old state record fell short by .20 seconds as he ran a time of 9:28.11.
Even though the disappointment of just missing the record was apparent, Landes was still thrilled with his first-place finish.
“There was a part where I sensed I was off pace and I was thinking, ‘if you finish, you’re still going to win and accomplish that big goal you’ve been working for so don’t lose sight of that,” Landes said.
Landes will race his last high school race tomorrow afternoon when he toes the line as one of the favorites in the 1600.
Milbourn cruises to victory
El Dorado’s Molly Milbourn has been unstoppable against Class 4A competition for the last year and Friday evening was no different as she ran a time of 11:09.49 to beat Colby’s Emilea Finley by 11 seconds.
Milbourn had the goal of going sub-10:51, but a slow second mile doomed that goal.
“I had all the splits memorized that I needed to hit,” Milbourn said. “I was pretty good for the first mile, I was under all the splits I needed to be, but the second mile (I) started slowing down a little bit and it got me off pace.”
Milbourn could not fall too far off pace though as the Western Kansas star Finley was on her heels for the majority of the race.
“I felt her (Finley) on my back foot at one point, so (I thought) ‘she’s really close’. It helped me keep my momentum and pace up,” Milbourn said.
Milbourn is seeking to complete the distance triple tomorrow with the 800 and 1600.
Wedekind weathers early storm to win
Anytime there is a defending state champion in the race, that athlete commands respect; and that was the case in the 5A girls’ 3200-meter run on Friday evening with Kapaun’s Mackenzie Maki. Maki took out off the gun and gapped the field from the start showing she meant to defend her title to the hilt.
It was a move that caught 5A favorite Morgan Wedekind off guard.
“I was kind of nervous (when Maki took off),” Wedkind said. “I just thought from there that I’m just going to run my race even if she won.”
Wedekind’s patience was rewarded as she slowly reeled Maki in and then promptly dropped her to take a commanding lead. Even though Maki fell from contention, Wedekind still had her biggest competition and friend in Bishop Carroll’s Kaelyn Balch on her heels. It was motivation enough for Wedekind not to let up.
“I was worried she (Balch) would catch up to me the whole time, so that made me run faster,” Wedekind said.
Wedekind did not have too much to worry about as she clocked an 11:16.08 to win. Balch was second at 11:28.95 and Maki came in third at 11:39.96.
Eichkorn blasts 6A field in 3200
Wichita North’s Amber Eichkorn’s new racing style saw her throw down one of the more dominating Class 6A girls 3200-meter performances since Washburn Rural’s Avery Clifton’s big win two years ago.
It is a strategy that Eichkorn developed out of necessity.
“I was tired of always being boxed in and having to shoot out, so since regionals I decided I’m just going to give it my all,” Eichkorn said.
That is exactly what she did as Eichkorn led all eight laps of the big-class race to add a track title to her cross country title from the fall.
She will battle with Shawnee Mission West’s Alli Cash in the 1600 and 800 tomorrow as both athletes seek to break the five-minute barrier.
Detmer finishes with gold
Cara Detmer has been making noise in the state pole vault scene for all four years of her high school career, but the state gold medal has always eluded her and things did not start out well for her early before the competition.
“I was really stressed because I figured out we didn’t have my poles here at the beginning, so my coach had to go get them and I was freaking out,” Detmer said.
Once Detmer had her poles, it was smooth sailing.
Detmer won the Class 5A girls pole vault and tied a state record with a leap of 12-0. The win came fairly easily as she was clean on all her jumps through 12-feet.
Even though she tied the record, she wanted more as she missed on breaking the record at 12-3.
“That took a lot of pressure off me (making 12-0), but I still wanted to do better,” Detmer said. “I switched to a bigger pole afterward, but I should have stayed on the other one.”
Detmer finishes her high school career tied for the No. 3 best pole vaulter in state history with a personal best of 12-6.
Western Kansas cleans up in 5A boys shot put
Last week’s regional at Friends University featured five of the best shot putters in Class 5A on the boys’ side, and only four were able to advance to this week’s State Meet. Those four throwers swept the top four spots this week with three Western Athletic Conference throwers sitting amongst those four.
Hays duo of Cade Sharp and Zach Gaughan went one-two. Sharing the top of medal stands is something the two have gotten used to.
“We have a lot of competition during practice. We both push each other this whole season,” Sharp said.
Sharp won with a toss of 54-8.25 and Gaughan was second with a throw of 53-9.25. Carroll’s Jarred Maxwell was third and Great Bend’s David Simmons finished fourth.
More importantly for the Hays team, Sharp and Gaughan combined to add 18 points to the team score as the Indians try to repeat as the Class 5A team champions.
“Coach was telling us how we need to score big today because that will just inspire our runners tomorrow to finish hard,” Sharp said.
Koenigsman ends Siale’s quest
Chaparral’s John Siale was questing to become the first thrower since the 1960’s to win all three throws at the State Track meet regardless of class. Siale started off right with a win in the javelin, but in the discus he ran into Hutchinson Trinity’s Brandon Koenigsman.
Things did not start out well for Koenigsman as he battled nerves.
“My first two throws were really nervous. The first one I didn’t even know what I was doing, the second (I) spun really slowly to get one in. Then after that I was all good because I knew I was making finals,” Koenigsman said.
Everything clicked on the first throw of finals as Koenigsman unleashed a monster 164-foot, six-inch throw that would not be matched.
Conway Springs’ Matt Seiwert snuck in to take second place with his final effort of 154-9. That throw took him from seventh to second as his best throw previously was 139-11. Siale finished third at 152-0.
Cunningham’s Ashley Shearer was far and away the favorite to win all three jumps in Class 1A, but things got off to a disastrous start for the Cunningham star. She scratched on all three of her jumps to be knocked from the competition in the preliminary rounds.
Wetmore’s Dana Kramer took advantage of the stumble and claimed the title with a leap of 17-2.
Locals take care of business in 3A Vault
Garden Plain’s Page Stuhlsatz and Halstead’s Dakota Becker finished their senior seasons off right with wins in the Class 3A pole vault.
Stuhlsatz previously won a title as a sophomore, but slipped from the top of the podium last year. This year she vaulted 10-6 to take home the title. Douglass’ Amanda Gardner, last year’s champion, finished second with a vault of 10-0.
Becker cruised to victory with a vault of 14-0, which was a foot better than second-place Seth Antrim of Norton Community.
Hillsboro’s Allen breaks field
Joel Allen of Hillsboro finished off the 3200-meter races for the morning session with a big win. Allen ran a 9:50.94 to win the race by 16 seconds over future teammate Garrett Daugherty of Minneapolis.
Allen and Daugherty will be teammates together at Tabor College next year.
The large margin of victory was not something Allen was expecting.
“I wasn’t expecting to wear everyone down, but lap six or seven I noticed that everyone was behind me maybe 50 meters or more,” Allen said. “At that point I got a lot of confidence and just kind of decided that this race was over and that I was going to give everything I possibly could to make sure it stayed that way.”
The key point in the race came at the halfway mark when Daugherty shot around Allen to take a big lead quickly. Allen responded, but did not break Daugherty right there. The two dueled back and forth and Allen gave credit to Daugherty for the quick time he posted.
“It was a chore to run (Daugherty) down three or four times,” Allen said. “I just had to chase him. I couldn’t let him continue to be out there like that. I was the winner, but I can give some credit to him. He really helped me out there.”
Ruder begins pursuit of four golds
Thomas More Prep’s Heather Ruder is attempting once again to pull off the most difficult quadruple at the state track meet as she seeks gold medals in the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200-meter runs. The Thomas More Prep star got started off on the right foot Friday morning with an easy victory in the 3200-meter run.
Ruder set out at a blistering pace of 2:35 for the 800-meter mark, which is a pace that would break every record Kansas has to offer, but Ruder had planned to be out there alone.
“I tried to go all out. It was pretty hard, but I just knew that I had to push myself,” Ruder said.
She finished with a time of 11:30.13. That was 35 seconds better than second-place finisher Savannah Wright of Douglass.
Plainville’s Brady Johnson takes 2A 3200
Brady Johnson of Plainville may not have the quickest kick at the State Track Meet, but it did not matter as he put enough distance between himself and the field late to take a three-second victory.
“I knew I didn’t have the kicking speed of some of those other guys, so I try to make it an all-out guts race,” Johnson said.
His effort translated to a time of 9:32.15 and a three-second win over Cory Keehn of Jackson Heights.
The finish was by far the best mark that Class 2A saw all season long, but that was not in Johnson’s mind during the race.
“I wasn’t really worried about time. Here you just have to worry about winning it,” Johnson said.
Farris remains queen of 2A distance running
Lincoln sophomore Jenna Farris took home the Class 2A State Cross Country title last fall, and she made no bones about who was the top distance girl in Class 2A on Friday. Farris led from gun to tape as she ran an 11:37.01 to win the race.
The clock was more of a motivator for Farris on Friday morning than the field itself.
“It’s hard (to run alone) because I really want to try to get under 11:20. You just kind of have to push yourself with the time,” Farris said.
Paige Wells of Leoti closed the gap somewhat towards the end as she finished second with a time of 11:42.22.
Koch wins by a head
Going into the last lap of the Class 1A boys 3200-meter run, it appeared that Isaac Williams of Pretty Prairie would claim the title, but Centralia’s Lukas Koch was still to be heard from.
Koch and Williams were neck-and-neck down the final 100-meters and the race came down to a lean.
“I thought I had a pretty good kick, but he (Williams) took off. I thought ‘how am I gonna get him?’ So we duked it out and someone said my head poked across the finish line first,” Koch said.
A head was about all he managed to win by as Koch finished with a time of 9:47.65, which was just .05 better than Williams’ 9:47.70.
Koch’s patience was what allowed him to be a factor in the end, and it is something that he always tries to practice in the 3200.
“If you go out too fast everyone will catch you and you don’t stand a chance in the end,” Koch said.
Schneider wins kicker’s race
Tribune’s Kennedy Schneider is one of the top 800-meter runners, not only in Class 1A but in the state as well. When she came through with the pack with 800-meters to go in the Class 1A girls 3200-meter run, it did not bode well for the field.
“I could just feel Carly (Van Campen) kind of sliding off,” Schneider said. “That last 800, I felt good too, I just tried to give it all I had.”
Schneider’s strong finished allowed her to go from running in a pack to blasting the field by 11 seconds with her time of 11:45.42.
Schneider is not done by a long shot as she will seek gold medals in the 800 and 1600-meter runs tomorrow, but she will take her time to recover.
“It’s nice having all day to rest and recover and head into the mile tomorrow. I still have high goals for them too,” Schneider said.