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Kanak, Hays boys cruise to regional title in Valley Center

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 11:40 AM CDT
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VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - It’s always an event when Hays junior Jaren Kanak steps onto the track. Kanak ran the sixth-fastest 100m dash time in state history to close out the regular season and set up a much anticipated state race. Powered by Kanak and his four gold medals, Hays won Thursday’s Class 5A regional with 147 points. Newton placed second with 112 points, and Emporia scored 90 points for third.

Kanak finished his Western Athletic Conference sprint in 10.37 to climb to No. 6 on the state’s all-time list, still two spots behind Shawnee Heights sophomore Jeremiah Smith, who ran a 10.36 earlier this spring.

But first things first, Kanak had to get through regionals. He did so with ease Thursday, winning the 100m dash in 10.54. Freshman teammate Malik Bah picked up the bronze in 11.19. Topeka West sophomore Tyrell Reed ran second in 11.08, and Salina South senior Herman Hill took the final qualifying spot by 0.03 seconds in 11.29.

“I’m definitely pleased,” Kanak said of his late-season times. “That was the benchmark I was shooting for all year so it was definitely satisfying to hit a number like that.”

Kanak and Smith have not met on that track this season ahead of next Thursday’s possible showdown. Weather conditions should resemble those of the league and regional meets in which Kanak has excelled.

“I’m definitely looking forward to that race,” said Kanak. “Weather is a big key in this sport. When it’s nice your times are going to pop a little bit more.”

Ranked No. 5 all-class in the 200m dash, Kanak picked up another gold there Thursday with the win in 22.49. Highland Park sophomore TreVontae Richardson finished second in 22.66, Emporia senior Zachary Johnson won the bronze in 23.40, and Great Bend sophomore Cayden Scheuerman grabbed the final qualifying spot by 0.04 seconds in 23.76.

Even with 210 pounds to move, Kanak entered regionals with the No. 11 long jump of the season in Kansas this spring. He won the regional title by five inches at 21-8.5, followed by Salina South junior Brandt Cox at 21-3.75. Hays sends three to state in the event with senior Kyler Beckman (21-2) and sophomore Kyreese Groen (21-1.25) also qualifying.

Finally, all the Hays team speed has made the Indians a force in the 4x100 with the No. 13 time in Kansas this spring. The Indians matched that Thursday as Kanak and Bah teamed up with Roy Moroni and Gaven Haselhorst for the win in 43.28. Newton, Emporia, and Valley Center also send teams to state.

Great Bend sophomore Kaiden Esfeld also had a big day with a pair of golds, a silver, and four state qualifying times. Esfeld edged Salina Central junior William Griffith by 0.34 seconds to win the 800m run in 2:03.31. Newton’s Simon Hodge (2:03.78) and Gabriel Gaeddert (2:04.18) completed a fast front-four.

Esfeld won the 1600m run in 4:29.16, followed by Emporia senior Treyson True in 4:33.09. Newton again qualified two via senior Luke Schmidt in 4:43.28 and junior Kaden Anderson in 4:46.81.

True and Esfeld traded places in the 3200m run with True crossing in 9:58.05 for the gold. Esfeld claimed the silver in 9:59.17 in a runaway race. Newton – you guessed it – took the final two qualifying spots. Senior Luke Schmidt finished in 10:26.41, and junior Alexander Barnett crossed in 10:39.78.

Hays senior Trey Adams entered the regional ranked No. 4 all-class in the discus this season. He easily won the regional crown with a heave of 164-7. Sophomore teammate Grayson Walburn finished third at 145-7. Newton senior Davis Mick placed second at 146-10, and Railer senior Aiden Kendall finished fourth at 145-5.

Kansas State-bound Gaven Haselhorst of Hays has the No. 2 shot put throw in Kansas this spring. He won Thursday with a toss of 53-10, followed by Adams at 49-0. Kendall finished third for Newton at 46-7, and Salina South’s Kayson Dietz placed fourth at 46-5.

Hays also picked up points in the javelin where sophomore Bryce Salmans finished second at 155-0. Newton’s Davis Mick cruised to the win at 163-7. Kenyon Forest placed third for Newton at 152-1, and Great Bend’s Mathew Moeder finished fourth at 141-1.

Hays junior Jordan Dale set a new PR at 6-5 to win the high jump. Central’s Alexander Shea and Newton’s Avery Gates each cleared 6-0 for second and third, respectively. Salina South’s Darrell Evans took the final qualifying spot at 5-10.

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