Spring Preview: Wilson, Peters among state leaders returning to field events in 2021
(Catch it Kansas) - A pair of young track and field athletes made huge splashes on the varsity scene as freshmen. Sterling’s Tyus Wilson won another high jump title as a sophomore in 2019, and Smoky Valley’s Belle Peters posted the fifth-best pole vault height in state history as a freshman. After missing their junior seasons, both return to lead the field athletes in the 2021 track and field season. Andale senior and future Texas A&M Aggie returns as one of the state’s top throwers.
As a freshman, the pedigreed Wilson – his mother, father, and two sisters all have state track and field titles – was one of just two high jumpers and one of just a handful of freshmen in all of America to clear 7-0. He cleared 6-6 at state to win the 3A title that season, then cleared 6-10 to the win the 2A title in 2019. Wilson enters his final prep season with a career best of 7-1 and recently won the AAU West Coast National Championship.
Class 2A could have been one of the best groups of high jumpers in the state but Meade moves to Class 1A, taking junior Vance Shewey to a new class. Shewey placed third at 6-4 in 2019 but maxed out at 6-6 during the 2019 season. West Elk senior Devin Laudermilk cleared 6-8 at state to finish second to Wilson, and Conway Springs senior Jonathan Wright cleared 6-7 in 2019 to rank No. 10 in Kansas that spring.
As with their track counterparts, many of the top male performers in the field graduated in 2019 or 2020. In Class 4A, Nickerson senior Brayden Miller cleared the bar at 6-6 in 2019, and Maize senior Jacob Hanna went as high as 6-4.
Class 5A was shaping for a big finish in the long jump. Lansing senior Malik Benson led the state by 1.5 inches at 23-9 in 2019. Wichita Northwest senior Julius Bolden, now a Class 6A jumper, had the No. 10 mark in Kansas that spring at 22-9.5.
Boys’ Pole Vault
In many of the top jumpers and throwers graduated over the past two Mays, the pole vault still is still loaded with talent in 2021. Andale senior Ty McPhail leads the back after clearing 15-0 at state to win the Class 4A title in 2019. McPhail was one of just six Kansas vaulters to clear 15-0 or better and the only returner from that tiny pack.
In Class 3A, Scott City senior Loren Faurot watched his brother, Marshall, go as high as 16-3 in 2019 to climb to No. 12 on the all-time Kansas list. Loren went 14-0 for third place at state but went as high as 14-6 to rank No. 12 in all of Kansas in 2019.
Hillsboro junior Nate Hein and Wichita County junior Tristen Porter had top-five 2A vaults during the regular season. Hein went on to win the 2A crown at 13-0, and Porter cleared 12-6 for third place.
In Class 1A, just a few pole vaulters went above 13-1 on the season. Hill City senior Jayce Hamel returns after a third-place state finish at 13-0. South Gray junior Brady Deges added six inches to his season best to place fourth at state at 12-6.
Hanna went as high as 6-4.
The 2019 season saw many of the state’s top throwers in their senior seasons, and a handful more of the state’s best graduated without a season in 2020. A glaring example of just how many throwers have graduated is the Class 5A discus event. Kapaun junior William Doolittle placed third in 2019 with a state toss of 154-7. All other 5A state qualifiers in that event graduated in 2019 or 2020.
Still in Class 5A, Hays junior Gavin Meyers was ranked No. 13 in the class during the regular season. He added more than 17 feet to his state effort to finish third at 167-1.
Girls’ Pole Vault
Smoky Valley’s Belle Peters was a force on the track and in the field as a sophomore in 2019. She posted a top-11 Class 3A time in the 100m dash and ranked No. 9 in all of Kansas in the 100m hurdles. She also had the No. 2 long jump mark in Class 3A. But it was the pole vault where she truly starred, winning the 3A title by more than two feet and setting a new 3A state record by an inch at 12-8. Peters, now a senior, cleared 12-10 as a freshman in 2018 to move to No. 5 on the state’s all-time list.
Peters is joined by Gardner-Edgerton (6A) senior Kendra Wait atop the watch list in that event this year. In 2019, Wait was one of just four vaulters to clear 12-0 and move to No. 20 on the state’s all-time list.
Several pole vaulters cleared 10-6 in 2019 to rank No. 15 in the state that spring. Marion senior Anne Baliel won the Class 2A title at that height. Maize senior Lillian Diaz, Scott City senior Paige Vulgamore, and Anderson County senior Abby Reid also reached 10-6.
added more than 17 feet to his state effort to finish third at 167-1.
Even losing two classes to graduation, the Class 3A triple jump remains stacked in 2021 with four of the top-five state finishers back. A fifth, senior Maddison Craig of Clay Center, moves to Class 4A. Cherryvale senior Mariah Monroy won a close competition at 37-2.25, and Cimarron junior Jacee Wilson picked up the silver at 37-1.75. Wilson went as far as 37-10.5 to rank No. 8 in all of Kansas in 2019.
Russell senior Renee Nichol placed third at 35-10.5. Nichol was even better in the long jump, reaching as far as 17-8.5 to rank No. 21 in Kansas in the spring of 2019. She hit 17-6 in the state finals to win the 3A title by seven inches.
Bluestem junior Torrance Lovesee piled up the state medals in her freshman season in 2019. She placed third in the 2A triple jump at 35-11, and placed fourth in the long jump at 16-2.5. She won a bronze medal in the discus with a toss of 123-11. Lovesee topped out at 36-5 in the long jump to rank No. 22 in Kansas in 2019. Her best discus throw of 125-3 ranked No. 17 in Kansas in 2019.
Chaparral junior Mattelyn Swartz returns as the state’s top high jumper. She cleared 5-6 in 2019 to rank to tie for fourth in Kansas two springs ago. Eight of the other top-10 jumpers from that season have graduated. Swartz won the Class 3A title by four inches by clearing 5-4.
The top-five high jumpers in Class 2A logjammed at 5-2. Four of those jumpers could be back this spring, led by Jefferson County north junior Adison Manville and Goessel junior Elsie Clark. Manville went as high as 5-4 in 2019. Sterling senior Kayla Morris could be part of that returning back after missing a state basketball title run with an injury.
Two of the state’s top discus throwers from 2019 will be back for senior seasons in 2021. Riley County senior Ames Burton led the state by more than eight feet but came well shy of that mark late in the season to place second in Class 3A. Burton also had the seventh-best shot put throw in Kansas at 42-3.5 but again had to settle for the Class 3A silver.
Andale senior Katelyn Fairchild, who signed a letter of intent to throw at Texas A&M, had the third-best discus throw in Kansas in 2019 at 135-7. She placed fourth in a loaded 4A field that featured three of the state’s top-five throws in 2019.
Fairchild shined in the javelin with a top throw of 156-11 to rank No. 2 in Kansas that spring and No. 14 on the state’s all-time list. She won the 4A javelin title by nearly 20 feet ahead of senior teammate Samantha Marx.
Marx and Fairchild double as two of the state’s best hammer throwers of all-time. Teammate Paiton Bruce set the all-time state mark at 149-9 before graduating in 2019. Marx hit 132-10 that spring to move to No. 2 all-time, and Fairchild’s best throw of 123-10 ranks No. 5 on the state’s all-time list.
Class 5A will be led by Salina Central senior Reagan Geihsler after a pair of silver-medal finishes in 2019. Her best javelin throw ranked No. 16 in Kansas in 2019, and she reached No. 19 on the state list with a best discus throw of 124-10.
Class 1A has its own star in White City senior Jada Lee, who placed third in that classification’s shot put and discus events. Lee topped out at 127-3 in the discus to rank No. 13 in Kansas in 2019. Lee placed third in the 1A shot put and ranked No. 6 in that classification during the regular season at 37-8.5.
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