League Meets kick off Big Three

This week is the first of the best three weeks of prep track and field in Kansas each year. League, Regional and State! Each is unique in what individuals and teams will bring to the table for motivation and goals.

Generally speaking, league meets are the final time most teams can gear up for a championship run! It is also the final week in which we will see athletes from different classes going head-to-head.

Regional is all about qualifying for state. Team championships are nice, but more often than not an after-thought to qualifying the maximum number of individuals and relays for the following week’s state championships.

State is the time to throw it down, hold nothing back, to put it all on the line! Fifteen or fewer individuals plus three relay teams in each classification, boys and girls, will be able to claim the title as “state champion!” With that title each winner will join an exclusive club and a place in Kansas track & field history.

Ferguson continues to lead nation in two events

Kord Ferguson (Ottawa) enters the final three weeks of the Kansas prep season with a lead of just 5 ¾” on the national boys’ shot put list put together by Mile Split after an Ohio boy broke through with a 67-foot plus throw last week. Ferguson’s goal is to improve on his state leading 67’10” throw from back on April 11 at Mill Valley with an eye on the all-time state best still 13 ½” inches away. His 2014 discus best of 205’6” from the April 4 Ottawa Relays still leads the nation’s prep boys by 4’9”, but he trails Luke Bryant of Clearwater (2007) on the all-time state list by four inches to tie for #3 while it will take an improvement of over eight feet in the discus for him to claim the top spot on the Kansas all-time discus list. Ferguson appears to be peaking at the right time though as he put together a 66’4” shot/204’5” discus double at last Friday’s Shawnee Mission North Relays.

Braden Smith (Olathe South) ranks #8 on the national discus list with his 195’3” throw at the St Thomas-Aquinas Invite on May 2 while Andrew Henn (Paola) jumped up into the #8 spot on the national boys’ javelin list with his throw of 204’5” on May 2 at Gardner-Edgerton and Aaron True (Southern Coffey County) lurks just outside the nation’s top 10 with his 201’10” best.

Keiryn Swenson (Maize) is Kansas’ top ranked girl for 2014 as she currently stands #7 on the national girls’ javelin list with her throw of 155’2” back on April 16 at the Kansas Relays, with Allison Zerbe (Mission Valley) and Carlea Holt (Cheney) among the nation’s top 20. Matia Finley (Lawrence) is just four inches short of breaking into the U.S. prep top 10 in the discus with her 155’8” throw at Topeka Seaman.

Tried something new…working long distance

Computers are either a blessing (when they work right) or a curse (when they don’t)! Last week and this I have been trying something that has been somewhat out of my comfort zone.

Each week we contact schools asking for copies of the complete results of meets we show them scheduled to host. The number of meets vary from week-to-week, up to as many as 59 meets (this season), but averaging right at 50 meets per week.

Thanks to computers and more schools using standardized meet results programs, there has been a tremendous growth during the last three years in the number of meets we have been able to track down the complete results for, noting whether the meet has been hand-timed or a fully automatic timing system (FAT) has been used.
This year family obligations called for us to be in Florida for 16 days, right during the height of the Kansas prep track & field season. Our daughter and son-in-law were scheduled to attend a conference in Arizona the first week and my wife and I willingly “volunteered” to fly down and watch our three grandchildren during their absence (I don’t dare say “babysit” since they are 14, 10 and 5) and trying to keep their lives in as normal a pattern as possible, meaning getting them to school, church, scouts, etc.

This has forced me to work on up-dating the state list around their schedules and a long way from our Kansas home base. Surprisingly, it has worked out pretty well, maybe even better than I thought it would. I did go out and buy a printer so I could have one dedicated to my work more readily available, but all-in-all it has worked out. We have managed to get a couple of up-dates a week and a couple of blogs to Catch It Kansas for posting while down here, and I must say, touching base with schools back home and seeing the results roll in has been a nice connection to home.

Comments on iron deficiency blog

A blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago really seemed to hit the mark with some folks. I can’t remember a blog I have written over the past four plus seasons that garnered the response that the blog related to iron deficiency in runners did. I have received several personal emails from parents who took their daughter(s) or son(s) in to have them checked for ID and found that they were indeed deficient in iron. Now under a doctor’s care and using iron supplements we can hope they will soon feel back up to par and performing at their maximum levels. I do want to emphasize though that taking any type of supplement should only be within a doctor’s prescribed regiment. Too much of a good thing can have bad results too as an excess of iron can also be poisonous to the human body.

Still hope to see Harmon-Thomas

It was disappointing to see Allie Cash’s outstanding high school career ended by an injury a year ago after such a promising junior season where she was among the nation’s very elite distance runners. Now this year, it is Alexa Harmon-Thomas (Free State) that has been sidelined. She is one of the nation’s most promising multi-event athletes, but has been sidelined since the beginning of the current outdoor season. With league meets this week, we hope Alexa will be able to get back on track prior to state qualifying regional meets next week.

Looking for athletes to sing the National Anthem

One of jobs seemingly overlooked by most folks is the task of finding individuals to sing the national anthem at the State Track & Field Championships. If you or one of your athletes would be interested, please contact Don Steffens the long-time state meet track event announcer and KSHSAA Hall of Fame member. Preference will be given to competing athletes, but Don would be glad to know of your interest so he can be planning ahead. Don’s email address is: dons@varsityapts.com or charsteffens@cox.net. One word of caution though, Don won’t promise a spot on the program until we see who actually qualifies for the state meet.