5A State Track & Field recap

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - From no state track experience to, perhaps, the most exciting 10 seconds of the entire Kansas State Track and Field High School Championships. Hays junior Jaren Kanak and Shawnee Heights sophomore Jeremiah Smith each entered Thursday’s Class 5A 100m dash with top-six all-time Kansas times. Smith came from behind to beat Kanak by 0.06 seconds in 10.52 for the big win.

Smith, Kanak dominate sprint events

Smith missed his freshman season in the year of Covid but he was already a national AAU record holder in the hurdles. He exploded onto the prep scene in the first few weeks of the 2021 season with state championship-caliber times in the 100m dash and 100m hurdles. High expectations came to fruition Thursday with state titles in both of those events.

“I feel like we would have had a really good team last year with Davion Gardenhire,” Smith said. “It was really disappointing when I found out I wouldn’t be on the 4x100 team with him.”

Smith popped his best times of the season just two weeks into the season. Kanak, who did not compete due to injury as a freshman, seemed to have the momentum heading into state.

“I was a little bit worried, especially at regionals when I ran a 10.9 because I was really trying,” said Smith. “When I saw the time I was really disappointed.”

Kanak, also 50 lean pounds heavier Thursday than he was as a freshman, busted out of the blocks ahead of Smith, who turned it on in the final 30 meters to stretch out the win.

“It’s hard work and dedication to your craft,” Kanak said of this year’s gains on the track. “I’m mostly a football-first guy, so most of the football training I’ve done has transitioned out here. It’s just a lot of hard work.”

Smith topped out at 10.36 this year, and Kanak his 10.37 late in the season. Smith moved less weight than Kanak’s 210 pounds, and probably did so with better track form.

“It’s probably not technique,” Kanak said of his speed. “I don’t have the best running form. It’s just the weight room and speed drills I do in the offseason.”

Smith ran a 14.34 way back on April 22 for the all-class lead in the 100m hurdles. He won Thursday’s finals in 14.74, followed by Spring Hill senior Otto Knittel with the silver in 14.93.

Smith and Kanak again faced off in the 200m dash finals. Smith just missed his best time of the season to collected his third gold in 21.92. Kanak ran second in 22.06, and Leavenworth senior Nathan Waugh grabbed the bronze in 22.34.

Distance record falls Thursday morning

After a 4-hour weather delay to open this year’s state meet, the Class 5A distance runners provided some excitement in the 3200m run. Three runners came in under the previous 5A state meet record of 9:14.78 set in 1996. Aquinas senior Thomas Hazen cut more than two seconds off his state-leading time for the win in 9:05.39. Teammate Logan Seger followed in 9:09.07, and Kapaun senior Erik Enriquez placed third in 9:13.82, still 20 seconds ahead of the fourth-place finisher. Hazen’s time ranks No. 9 all-time in Kansas.

With rain again falling for the afternoon 1600m race, Seger collected another gold there in 4:22.64, followed by teammate Ashton Higgerson in 4:23.69, and Hazen in 4:23.81 for the bronze. Andover senior Sam McDavitt ran fifth in 4:26.64.

McDavitt just missed a win in the 800m run, picking up the silver in 1:57.62. Mill Valley sophomore Nen Matlock, ranked No. 11 in Kansas this spring, won the race in 1:57.31. Kapaun junior Henry Thengvall placed third in 1:58.32, and Maize South’s William Schaeffer just missed the bronze in 1:58.69.

Matlock, ranked No. 2 in Kansas this spring in the 400m dash, dominated that race by better than a second in 49.01. Andover Central junior Ashton Barkdull picked up the silver in 50.11, closely followed by St. James Academy’s John Niesen in 50.16 for the bronze. Jared McDavitt ran fourth for Andover in 50.18.

Barkdull dominates in pole vault

The Class 5A pole vault field was the tamest of all classes in 2021. An exception was Barkdull, who held a 9-inch lead in the class at 14-6, the No. 4 height in all classes this year. Thursday Barkdull needed just 14-0 to claim the gold by six inches. Mill Valley’s Kyle Mayfield and Garrett Beashore, and Goddard-Eisenhower’s Coby Smith each went 13-6 to take spots 2-4, respectively.

Doolittle wins gold, silver in throws

Kapaun junior Will Doolittle pulled the upset in the discus with a top-throw of 179-8, his best throw of the season by nearly 10 feet. Hays senior Trey Adams, ranked No. 4 in Kansas this spring, got the silver at 178-7, and Kapaun’s Isaac Schmitz placed third at 172-1.

Doolittle, ranked No. 5 all-class in the shot put, had to settle for the silver there by just four inches at 54-1.75. Leavenworth senior Michael Harris got the gold at 54-5.25, and Hays senior Gaven Haselhorst, ranked No. 3 all-class, placed third at 49-11.25, just a quarter of an inch ahead of teammate Adams.

Newton junior Kenyon Forest ranked No. 15 all-class in the javelin this spring. He saved his best throw of the year for state, winning by 15 inches at 175-5. Mill Valley’s Brian Casper picked up the silver at 174-2, and Ark City’s Lance Blubaugh placed third at 168-0.

Wichita-area jumpers complete sweep

Andover junior Tayton Klein had little trouble in the long jump, winning by nearly half a foot at 21-8.5. Lansing senior Malik Benson, a potential record threat in the event, did not compete after a regional mark of 25-2.25 to rank No. 4 all-time in Kansas. Bonner Springs senior Cortland Hervey picked up the silver at 21-3.

With one Goddard jumper out in the triple jump it was up to senior Malachi Mullens to carry the weight. Ranked No. 3 all-class this season, he pulled the upset for the gold at 46-7.5. Hervey, the state leader this year at 47-7, picked up another silver at 46-6.75.

Maize senior Jacob Hanna reached a PR of 6-6 at regionals. He duplicated that feat Thursday for the win by two inches at 6-6. Hays junior Jordan Dale picked up the silver at 6-4, and four jumpers cleared the bar at 6-2.

Andover wins exciting 4x8

Eight laps can separate teams but not at the highest level. Andover’s 4x800 team of John Hippisley, Carter Champlin, Kaden Hauck, and Sam McDavitt edged Aquinas by less than a second for the gold in 8:05.27.

The top-five 4x100 teams were separated by just 0.34 seconds. DeSoto led the group in 43.46, and Hays’ Kanak gained some spots late for a third-place finish in 43.67.

Wheelchair races were set to make their debut at the 2020 championships. Instead, Wichita Heights’ Grant Pierce won the inaugural wheelchair 100m dash Thursday in 16.29. Bishop Carroll’s Micah Campbell finished second in 17.50. The duo went 1-2 in the 400m dash with Pierce winning by seven seconds in 63.99.

Mill Valley finished strong late in the day to get past Aquinas 74-71 for the Class 5A team championship. Andover edged Hays 59-56 for third place, and Kapaun scored 46 points for fifth.

Jackson, Rios, Ecord excel in distance races

Northeast Kansas distance runners have put up the best times all spring but Bishop Carroll junior Hope Jackson showed she can hold her own Thursday. She cut 19 seconds off her best time of the season to win the 3200m run in 10:59.77, just the fourth sub-11 minute time this spring. Maize South senior Alexa Rios picked up the silver in 11:09.15.

In the 1600m run it was Maize junior Zoie Ecord running her best race of the season to push Jackson to the gold in 5:04.75. Ecord cut more than nine seconds off her best time of the season to collect the silver in 5:04.98.

Ecord also ran her best time of the season in the 800m run but it was only good enough for second in 2:21.40. Valley Center senior Jalea Hoddy slipped out with the gold by 0.07 seconds in 2:21.33. Kapaun’s Kelsey Bruening finished third in 2:21.58.

Record falls in pole vault

If Jackson was not quite able to get a record in the distance runs, Mill Valley senior Lily Fleetwood was able to get one in the pole vault. With a season best of 12-6, she climbed to No. 6 all-time at 13-0 Thursday. She also broke the 6-year-old 5A record of 12-9. Aquinas senior Paris Bond placed second at 12-0.

Bond got her gold in the triple jump, winning by half a foot at 37-9.5. Teammate Lydia Micek picked up the silver at 37-2.75. Bond’s mark ranks No. 3 in Kansas this spring.

Bond won another gold in the high jump at 5-6, followed by Newton’s Asha Regier and Andover-Central’s Brittany Harshaw, both at 5-4.

Aquinas senior Grace Allen made the most of her final state meet with a gold and silver medal. Ranked No. 15 all-time in the state’s long jump list, she won Thursday’s title by a foot at 18-1.5. Micek placed second at 17-1, and Hays senior Reanna Green finished third at 16-10.5.

Blake, Ramos finish strong for Leavenworth

Leavenworth senior Wynter Ramos and junior Dhakiya Blake have been among the state’s best sprinters all season. Ramos won the 5A title in 12.07, followed by Allen in 12.13 for the silver. Blake ran third in 12.16, followed by Maize South senior Sydney Rich in 12.36 for fourth.

Blake, ranked No. 13 all-time on the state’s 400m dash list, improved upon her 2021-leading time to win that gold in 56.72. Blue Valley Southwest’s Emily Ervin finished second in 57.42, and Andover-Central junior Ellen Geoffroy ran third in 58.96.

Ervin pulled the upset in the 200m dash, posting the state’s best time this season for the win in 24.38. Ramos picked up the silver in 24.96, and Blake ran third in 25.33. Rich placed fourth in 25.71.

Blue Valley Southwest senior Lauren Heck was ranked No. 2 all-class in the 100m hurdles for most of the spring. She cruised to the 5A title in 14.60, her best time of the season. Andover freshman McKinlee Walker made a splash in her first state showing for the silver in 15.13. Mill Valley’s Quincy Hubert ran third in 15.48, and Megan Boeding placed fourth for Kapaun in 15.53.

Hubert picked up the 300m hurdle win by half a second in 45.96. Great Bend freshman McKenzie Premer, the fifth-place finisher in the 100s, won the silver in 46.31, closely followed by Heck in 46.25 for the bronze. Bishop Carroll’s Evan Nordhus finished fourth in 46.66.

Kapaun girls dominate 4x800

Kapaun was nowhere to be found on the all-class leader board prior to state. The girls topped out at a respectable 10:09 in the regular season. Thursday the team of Julia Berends, Mason Bina, Kelsey Bruening, and Addie Curtis won the gold in 9:38.37, the first-fastest time in Kansas this spring. Valley Center’s team of Hoddy, Kaylee Kinsinger, Hannah Grover, and Teagan Horning placed second in 9:47.33.

Leavenworth was a dominate team in the 4x100 but Lansing took advantage of a disqualification for the win. Spring Hill won the 4x400m relay by four seconds in 4:033.33, with Andover-Central and Bishop Carroll finishing second and third-respectively.

Mix of throwers win gold

Kapaun sophomore Sophia Gimino made the most of her first state appearance with a win in the javelin at 128-5. Shawnee Heights junior Nadia Emperly placed second at 125-4, and Salina South freshman Aunisty McNeal finished third at 119-9. The young field continued with Great Bend freshman Macy Nachtigal placing fourth at 117-3.

Topeka Seaman senior JahnAsia Anderson won the shot put by nearly a foot at 37-7, her best throw of the season by 18 inches. Great Bend junior Taryn Warren placed second at 36-8.25, and 5A leader Gracye Martin of Lansing picked up the bronze at 36-7.5.

Bonner Springs sophomore Mariyah Noel won the discus gold in her first state meet with a throw of 129-6. Emporia’s Trinity Ervin finished second at 118-0, just two inches ahead of Spring Hill’s Meredith Todd.

Aquinas dominated team scoring with 92 points, followed by Kapaun with 55 points and Mill Valley with 53 points.

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