WICHITA, Kan.—After last year’s meet was plagued by bad weather that resulted in a cancellation, athletes took advantage of the nice weather at the Pre-State Challenge to rewrite the state’s leaderboards.
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Over the two days there were 11 new No. 1 marks achieved at the meet and 30 of the 36 events saw performances that would rank in the top five of the state in each event.
The assault on the leaderboard started right off on Friday in the 3200-meter relays with the Hays boys blazing a time of 7:55.98 to set a school record and lower the state’s leading mark by two seconds.
The chance at the school record was all the motivation that anchor Eric Stumon needed to not succumb to worn out legs.
“Once you are running you feel tired, but then I started hearing ‘record, record, record’ and that is the only thing I was thinking about,” Stumon said.
The Indians were running a man down as usual anchor Josh Brungardt is out with an injury. His replacement was Derek Drees, who ran the second leg of the relay.
“I knew that he would run with heart. Coach did a good job of choosing who to run in it,” Stumon said. “We run with confidence and heart.”
Drees took the baton from Tanner Staab in the lead, but Edmond Santa Fe (Okla.) chased him down and the Indians had some work to do. Ethan Fort took the next hand off behind the rivals from the south and 800 meters later he proved to be the superior third leg and gave Stumon, a first time anchor, the baton in the lead and he ran it in for a record.
Bishop Carroll finished second thanks to a late charge on the anchor leg by David Thor. Thor threw down a split right around 1:55 to close and get by Edmond.
Thor lowers 800-meter mark
Thor took the momentum of a strong split on the 3200-meter relay and parlayed it into the state’s best open 800-meter time later in the day.
“I felt a lot more confident about myself after the 4x800,” Thor said. “I just focused on relaxing and went out there and did what my body told me to do.”
Thor took the lead from the gun on his way to an 800-meter time of 1:55.80, which bested the previous state-best time by almost two full seconds.
After a tough loss last night in the 1600, Thor was gunning for a great time in the open 800.
“There was nothing going through my head,” Thor said. “I was pretty intent on winning that race. It was like autopilot that entire race.”
Bethany’s Grayson Haws finished second at 1:56.36, which was just ahead of Dodge City’s Vincente Estrella’s finish time of 1:57.44.
Girls post three new No. 1 Marks.
The throws were the bright spot for the girls on Friday, as Great Bend’s Jacy Quade and Baldwin’s Katie Kehl improved the state’s No. 1 marks in discus and shot put, respectively.
Kehl had the top discus throw in the state coming into the meet, but Quade busted a throw of 133-10 to best Kehl’s state-leading mark by five inches. Newton’s Brooke Regier was second with a throw of 127-3 on Friday and Kehl finished third with a throw of 119-1.
The Baldwin thrower was on her game in the shot put though. Kehl improved her state-best shot put mark by more than a foot with a throw of 43-4.5 and she would need every bit of that distance to win. Nickerson’s Cassie Caswell was just a quarter of an inch behind on Friday in second place.
Valley Center’s Meagan Williams, the javelin champion from Thursday night, finished third.
The quality of the field at the Pre-State Challenge could not be demonstrated any better than in the Elite girls’ 400-meter race. Derby’s Alyxis Bowens ran a time of 58.28 to best the state’s best mark by half a second, but she did not even win her race.
The 400-meter title went to Edmond’s Tyler Wisby as she blazed a time of 57.08.
Wichita State continues to treat Meyer well
By this point in his career, Bishop Carroll junior Nick Meyer has certain expectations when he pole vaults on the campus of Wichita State University.
“I think I have PR’ed (set a personal best) every time I have been here (at WSU) except for my freshman year,” Meyer said.
The trend held true on Friday as he cleared 15-7 in the vault to set a new personal best and improve on his state-best mark. As he fell to the earth after the clearance, it was a feeling for him that is hard to describe.
“There is nothing like it. Just falling down and you know it’s (the bar) staying there and you don’t have to worry,” Meyer said. “Each one is just like Christmas almost.”
Some of the improvement could be attributed to the raised pole vault runway at Cessna Stadium.
“This runway is incredibly fast,” Meyer said. “It is raised (so) you have a bigger bounce. You feel faster and you are faster. You can get on bigger poles. That pole that I was just on I didn’t get on until yesterday at practice.”
Sonday remains consistent
According to Dodge City’s Bryce Sonday, Friday was an off day.
“I didn’t have a very good day. I scratched my first three and I was lucky to pull one out though,” Sonday said.
The one he was “lucky” to pull through happened to travel 162-feet and seven-inches, which is personal best and the state’s best mark in the event.
Sonday has been fairly consistently staying around 160 feet this year after being stuck in the 140’s his first two years of high school.
The improvement can be attributed to his good health.
“Last year I broke my hip, so this year being able to lift weights and actually participate in full helped a lot,” Sonday said.
McNelley storms back late to win
Coming into the second turn of the Elite Boys 400-meter dash, Douglass’ Avery McNelly was an afterthought in the race. He was solidly in third or fourth and looked to be battling for a medal and nothing more.
Then McNelly showed his state champion caliber in the last 100 meters to come back and win the race. He was the only runner under 50 seconds on the day with a time of 49.93.
“Usually that is how I do it. (I) kick really hard at the end and see if I can make it up,” McNelly said. “You just have to push hard at the end and make it up.”
As everyone faded, McNelly looked strong and held his form even though his legs were rebelling against him.
“They (my legs) were burning and it was horrible,” McNelly said of the last stretch of the race.
McNelly’s time is the third-best in the state this year.
Other performances of note
Newton’s La’tieyra Yeargin showed why she is one of the state’s best sprinters as she reeled off wins in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes.
Conway Springs’ Emily Doffing nipped Kiowa County’s Heather Melton in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.38, just ahead of Melton’s 15.65.
Herington’s Brianna Blackwell blew the field away in the 300 hurdles as she bested Doffing by more than a second with a time of 46.37.