When Bishop Carroll athletes run in distance events, it is usually a tactical and patient race. On Saturday, that went out the window for all three Golden Eagle runners as David Thor chased the Class 5A record of 4:16.60 that was set by Jason Goertzen of Salina South back in 1986.
Thor and teammates Gage Garcia and Nick Martin went right to the front and set a blistering pace. Garcia and Martin took the lead for Thor in an effort to push him along.
“I felt like David was going for that record so I felt like we should give him a little help and block the wind for him a little bit and set the pace,” Garcia said. “We really wanted to get David that record to add to his collection.”
His teammates were right with him until the 800-meter mark and then it was all Thor out alone with only the crowd to push him along.
“It is hard to do things by yourself. You put out all that effort there and with the crowd cheering it pushes you back,” Thor said.
Thor succeeded as he ran a time of 4:15.43 to lower the record.
“I’ve been kind of coming up short in the last few years on my goals. This time I finally did it and I pushed through the pain barrier and I finally got it,” Thor said.
His teammates Garcia and Martin went out hard for the first 800 and then had a battle of their own with fatigue from the blazing early pace.
“I was a little bit worried because I was kind of tired, but I was just had faith. I knew David was on pace and I just had to try and hang on as best I could,” Garcia said.
Garcia held on for a time of 4:24.77 and a third-place finish behind Thor and Blue Valley’s Colton Donahue. Martin finished fifth behind Winfield’s Josh Hanna.
Thor completed the distance sweep with a win in the open 800 later to claim three gold medals in his final state meet. He also anchored the Bishop Carroll 1600-meter relay team to a second-place finish.
Friends battle in 3A girls 100 hurdles; Doffing strikes gold late
The first thing Rossville senior Shannon Parr did after winning her first 100-meter hurdle title was turn to her left and embrace second-place finisher Emily Doffing of Conway Springs as both started to cry.
“Emily and I are really good friends,” Parr said through tears. “It was really hard. That was the toughest thing just to beat her. She is such a great hurdler and I know she wanted it so bad.”
Their friendship started this winter when both attended AAU Track together and the State Track Meet has been on their minds all season.
“We always joked this season about getting 18 points and we did it, so we are so happy about that,” Parr said. “But that was tough. It was so tough.”
Before the race both athletes were relaxed despite all that was on the line.
“We were goofing around and having a good time to the point where the officials (said) ‘ok, you guys need to be five feet apart,” Parr said. “We were just having a good time and whatever happened, happened. We were going to support each other no matter what.”
After the race it was bittersweet especially for Doffing who was the defending champion in the event.
“It was emotional because I was reigning champion and couldn’t defend it,” Doffing said. “I was glad it was her (that won).”
Doffing still had three more chances to win gold as she will run the 300 hurdles, 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash.
The latter two events are new to Doffing this year, and she admits the hurdles are still her preference.
“It is so different (the sprints). A 300 without hurdles seems 10 times longer because I don’t have something to distract me,” Doffing said. “Just running a 100-meter dash seems so much longer because I am not jumping in between. I like hurdles because they distract me from the distance.”
In the 300 hurdles Doffing ran up against another Rossville foe in Mindy Wilson.
The two were neck-and-neck throughout in a race that was so close even the timers were not sure who won it as the results on the stadium board switched between Doffing and Wilson.
“I had fisted pumped after I got it (the win) because you can feel if you got the lean usually,” Doffing said. “So I fist-pumped looked up and my name was up there, then I looked up there and it changed. I (thought) now I feel silly for fist-pumping. Then I hear my family just go crazy because they put it back up as me in first.”
Doffing’s winning time turned out to be 45.58 and Wilson had to settle for second in a time of 45.60. The win took away some of the sting from her earlier disappointment in the 100 hurdles.
“It made it so much better because I didn’t get first in the 100 hurdles, but I did get first in the 300 hurdles, so I kind of switched from last year,” Doffing said.
Doffing also brought home a fifth-place finish in the 100 and sixth-place finish in the 200. The feeling of what she has accomplished the last four years and the athlete she has become has yet to sink in.
“I never imagined it to end this way. When you are little you see all these really fast kids and (think) ‘whoa, she is awesome.' You never think that you are going to be in that position. I love it when I have middle schoolers looking up to me. It is just a great feeling.”
She will hurdle for Wichita State University next year.
Gatson brings a sprint title back to Wichita
The City League has been shut out of the gold medal in the boys’ 100-meter dash since Mikey Moore won it for Heights in 2004. On Saturday, the GWAL had six of the eight finalists in the finalists as the City League announced its return to sprinting royalty with authority.
“Nobody respected us,” Heights’ Skylarr Gatson said. “It was great to come out here and prove that we were the best.”
Gatson out-leaned Olathe North’s Michael Gagliano in a time of 10.66 to 10.67 to bring the title back to Wichita.
Gatson was confident throughout the race.
“I knew I was going to win,” Gatson said. “It was just stay focused, don’t get too jumpy. Just handle it, be calm and just react.”
It was not always a foregone conclusion that Gatson would even make state much less win the final early in the year.
“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t focused. There were things outside the track that were affecting me, but everybody kept having confidence in me and helped me get back to where I was,” Gatson said.
In the end, Gatson’s coaches always had faith in the sprinter.
“I just wanted to bring it home for us. They (his coaches) had confidence and worked with me all four years and never gave up on me,” Gatson said. “I was proud I could do this for them (his coaches).”
It did not hurt that week-in and week-out Gatson faced the state’s best competition in the City League.
“I’m here because of them (the GWAL sprinters) We push each all year and we are great competitors,” Gatson said. “There is never bad blood.”
For Gatson, being seen as the best in the state is about as good as being the best in his own town.
“I’m proud to be considered the sprinter in the state right not, but to say I’m the best in Wichita, that is great also,” Gatson said.
Calloway finally gets his titles
Wichita Southeast’s Steven Calloway has been gunning for a state title for his entire high school career and it all led up to his final state meet.
His thoughts while waiting for his 400-meter dash final to start were simple.
“When I was in the tent and when I was in the blocks I was just thinking there isn’t anybody that did what I did in the winter time,” Callaway said. “Resistance bands, weight jackets, thousands and thousands of meters, crying to my coach for mercy. I (said) there isn’t any way you can come out here and let your coach down. Just go out here and win it.”
Calloway was right in his thinking as he would sweep both the 200 and 400 along with gold medals in the 400 and 1600-meter relays.
He dropped well below 49 seconds to win the 400 thanks to advice he heeded from his coach.
“My coach said to kick a little bit early and I can go 48 (seconds), but it is going to hurt worse than anything else,” Callaway said. “He said it is your last 400 so give it your all.”
The pain paid off in the form of a winning time of 48.26 seconds.
His 400 title was a fulfilling thing for him to experience.
“I hate it (the 400), but when you win it…the dude who won the 100 ain’t got nothing on you,” Callaway said.
Southeast finished third as a team.
Lacy finally breaks through
Abilene senior Kelsey Lacy had qualified six times in the two hurdle events in her first three years of high school, but the Cessna Stadium track has not treated her well.
Her first two years she failed to make the final in either hurdle event. Last year, she finished second in the 100-meter hurdles and fell in prelims of the 300-meter hurdles and failed to make the final.
“I have worked so hard the last four years and I have had really bad luck here the last three years,” Lacy said. “I knew this year that it would just turn around.”
Her optimism paid off on Saturday in the form of a Class 4A 110-meter hurdle final in a time of 15.03.
Osawatomie’s Taylor Soucie and Maize South’s Hannah Grubbs were with Lacy much of the race, but the Abilene senior put the pedal down late to separate herself and win.
“My coach told me that if I want to win I have to finish my race. I have to run the last three hurdles well,” Lacy said.
She broke the tape ahead of Soucie’s 15.45 finish and relief washed over her.
“I was so relieved and so happy,” Lacy said. “Finally, finally I did it.”
Cash finishes banner state meet
Shawnee Mission West super-junior Alli Cash came into the meet with shots at all the distance records, but the weather would not be on her side and offer ample opportunity for record-breaking oppotunites.
Despite the bad distance running weather, Cash lowered the 23-year-old 1600-meter run record by three seconds to 4:52.31.
She would claim four gold medals, but a couple proved tough to come by. In the 3200-meter relay her team almost missed the race because of a misunderstanding of the schedule.
“We thought the race was at 12:30 p.m., but it was really at 10:30 a.m. We got here when (class) 4A was running the 4x800, so we just ran down here and did a couple laps really quickly,” Cash said. “Everyone was freaking out, but I think it helped because our adrenalin was really going.”
It also helped that Cash was on the anchor as she brought her team back from behind in second to win the race in a time of 9:24.28.
After her record-breaking 1600-meter performance she had to come back and try to win the 800. She started out with the pack the first lap and then hammered the second lap to cruise to a victory in a time of 2:15.51.
“I was really tired honestly (for the 800). I felt better the second lap than the first. Maybe my legs needed to warm up some,” Cash said. “Before the 800 I didn’t want to warm up too much because I ran a lot today.”
Chandler gets her gold
Heights’ Taylor Chandler has qualified for the state track meet 15 times, but never was able to get an individual gold.
That changed with a win in the open 200-meter dash Saturday evening. She ran a time of 25.96 to take the title.
“I took second last year and fourth the year before, so I just felt like it was my time to do what I had to do,” Chandler said.
Chandler also claimed medals in the long jump, open 100-meter dash and was the anchor of a champion 400-meter relay team, but nothing felt as good as stepping on the podium and hearing her name announced as an individual champion.
“I remember the feeling being second and I would have given anything to be first, so it is good to finally hear my name on the podium having the gold medal,” Chandler said.
Western Athletic Conference dominates boys hurdles
On Saturday, six WAC hurdlers made the finals in Classes 5A and 6A and all six took home medals including two golds.
Hays’ Adam Deterding won his second consecutive 110-meter hurdle title in 5A, while Garden City’s Jonthan Duvall took care of business in the Class 6A event.
“It seems we have more competition in our little area than we do here at these big track meets,” Duvall said. “There are a lot of good hurdlers in our conference.”
Deterding was the known commodity coming in with a target on his back, but it is a pressure he welcomes.
“I like being the guy that everyone guns to get,” Deterding said. “It is kind of an accomplishment knowing you are at the top. It is always nice having the target on your back pushing you every day in practice.”
The Hays junior’s winning mentality is evident even in the thoughts that run through his head pre-race.
“(I was thinking) you better not screw up now. You better go do your best. If not you shouldn’t have come at all,” Deterding said.
Deterding did not screw it up as he blew away the field by almost a half second in a time of 14.54.
The biggest worry for Deterding late was himself and making sure not to clip a hurdle by being smooth and attacking.
“I get told every day in practice is to keep it smooth over these (hurdles) especially here where the hurdles are so heavy if you hit one you could be out of the race,” Deterding said. “And if you don’t attack you are going to fall behind and start banging them.”
Great Bend’s Matt Moyd finished second. The Liberal duo of Trenton Hammond and Adebayo Braimah were third and fourth.
Duvall was not so fortunate as Deterding as he had to fight for his title from gun to tape.
“(Manhattan’s) Ben Bolton got off to a great start. Normally that is my strongest feature in the race is my start, but he was right there with me,” Duvall said.
Bolton was there stride-for-stride with Duvall until the end where the Garden City hurdler took over.
“I just try to be quick in the hurdles,” Duvall said. “With him right there next to me definitely gave me big motivation.”
Duvall posted a time of 14.51 to win just ahead of Bolton’s 14.61.
Wedekind battles injury to take gold again
Valley Center’s Morgan Wedekind was the two-time defending champion in the 1600 and 3200 coming into this meet, but stress fractures in both feet forced her to make a tough choice in her junior season as she had to pick just one event and try to win it on limited training.
“I had to be careful and pick what I want to do,” Wedekind said. “I didn’t run more than three miles a week. I did elliptical and swimming.”
Nobody would have blamed the Valley Center distance runner for shutting it down completely for the season, but she came out on Saturday and ran the 1600 with authority. Wedekind took the lead after the first lap in an attempt to negate Bailee Cofer of Aquinas’ late speed.
“I heard she (Cofer) had a kick, so I was trying to get as far ahead as possible so I could go down the backstretch and not get passed,” Wedekind said.
The strategy worked well as she won with a time of 5:10.80, which was a second better than Cofer.
Now Wedekind has to focus on getting healthy for Cross Country season, but an early diagnosis on the stress fractures should help her recovery.
“We caught them really early, but we didn’t want them to turn into breaks or anything,” Wedekind said. “I’m going to miss some cross country training, but it is better in the long run.”
Granillo strikes gold three times
Moscow’s Osvaldo Granillo won gold in the 100 and 200-meter dashes along with the 1600 and 3200-meter relays last year. This year he was gunning for three individual gold medals and it was obvious as he brought the best times into the meet in all three individual events.
There was a large target painted on his back and he knew it all week.
“I had about a week’s worth of sleepless nights after regionals,” Granillo said. “I knew what it was going to take. Having a target on you back is not fun. It is probably one of the most nerve-wracking things to go through.”
He took it in stride as he swept the three sprints and anchored his 1600-meter relay team to a third-place finish after taking the baton in seventh place.
Carroll's Denning pulls surprise gold
Bishop Carroll’s Matt Denning was not a favorite in the 400-meter dash coming into the meet. And he shouldn’t have been.
He had the fifth-best time in the state coming into the meet in Class 5A. He was the third-fastest qualifier out of the preliminary and this was his first ever appearance in the open 400.
Despite all that was against him, Denning’s aversion to finishing outside of first place was stronger.
“In football we were runner-up a few years ago, last year runner-up in track and just getting second and thirds wasn’t doing it,” Denning said. “It was really exciting to get first for a change.”
Denning came across the line in a time of 49.68 to win the title and finally got to see his name atop the big board at the state meet.
“It was the greatest feeling I have ever experienced (seeing his name on the board),” Denning said. “It was just wow; I am actually a state champion. This is my first year qualifying in the 400 and to get out there with that kind of field and win it is an amazing feeling,”