Andale girls capture another 4A state track title

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 10:10 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - (Story by Mike Courson) Andale has a way of dominating track meets. In 2019 the Lady Indians nearly doubled up the 4A field for the state title. The girls piled up 233 points in last week’s regional meet. Friday, Andale claimed another state title, nearly doubling up the field with 137.5 points. Paola scored 70 points for second, and Eudora finished third with 61.5 points.

So many of those points come in the field, particularly the throws. Many javelin throwers like a head wind. Andale senior Katelyn Fairchild made the most of temperatures just above 50 degrees and a moderate tail wind. She broke the 13-year-old meet record of 165-5 with a first throw of 168-11. Her next throw reached 170-0.

“I like tail wind but if it’s a good head wind it’s fine,” she said. “(Conditions) were a lot better than I thought they’d be so I’m happy with it. It wasn’t too cold, wasn’t too hot. It was a lot better humidity-wise than I thought it was going to be.”

Andale’s throwers are always in the mix for several medals. Sophomore McKenzie Fairchild saved her best throw for last to get the silver at 159-2. Senior Samantha Marx placed third at 145-7. No other 4A thrower. Only two other 4A throwers surpassed 140-feet this year, though none at regionals or state other than the Andale trio.

“We definitely push each other,” Katelyn said. “Us taking the top three is really what we’ve been working for all season so it’s a weight off our shoulders.”

The Andale trio took three of the top-five spots in the discus, led my McKenzie Fairchild at 140-0, then Katelyn at 132-10 for the silver. Ottawa’s Jaine Johnson and Louisburg’s Corinna McMullen broke up the monopoly at 118-5 and 113-1, respectively.

The Fairchilds completed the sweep in the shot put with Katelyn winning on a throw of 42-2.5, and McKenzie taking the silver at 40-6. McPherson’s Grace Pyle took home bronze on a toss of 36-11.

Andale pulls sweep in pole vault

State record watches were all over the place early Friday morning with Fairchild’s javelin throw and Smoky Valley’s Belle Peters and Andale’s Ty McPhail pole vaulting at the same time. The 4A state meet record is the older and toughest of them all at 17-0.5, set in 1978. The senior McPhail entered state ranked No. 7 all-time in Kansas with a season-best of 16-6.25.

No pole vault records fell Friday. McPhail went as high as 15-9 and it was enough to win by 15 inches. Louisburg’s Luke Faulkner collected the silver at 14-6, still 12 inches ahead of the next competitor.

Andale’s success continued in the girls’ pole vault with three of the top-four placings there. Junior Annabeth Baalmann won outright at 11-0, followed by five vaulters at 10-6. Buhler’s Grace Whisler led the bunch for the silver, and Andale’s Clarissa Rowland and Mary Meyer tied for third.

Nickerson jumpers win three titles

Call it a banner day for the small yet mighty Nickerson team in Wichita. Senior Philippe Manga won the long jump at 21-11.25, followed by Andale’s Nathan Seck at 21-9 for the silver. Manga placed seventh in the triple jump with a best mark of 42-0.5. Bishop Miege senior Carson Key, ranked No. 5 all-class, dominated that event by more than two feet at 45-7.5.

Lady Panther sophomore Ava Jones was one of three jumpers to clear the high jump bar at 5-4. She won the tie break over Eudora’s Chloe Thakker and Champman’s Sophia Cavanaugh. On the boys’ side, Panther senior Brayden Miller dominated the field by four inches at 6-6, tying his best effort of the season. Eudora’s Kale Breedlove, Rose Hill’s Carter Wagner, and McPherson’s Seth Madron each cleared 6-2 and finished in that order.

Chapman’s Briggs finishes career on top

Chapman senior Taylor Briggs has been one of the state’s top distance runners over the past four seasons. She won 1600m and 3200m titles in 2019 and repeated in both of those events Friday. Ranked No. 3 all-class in the 3200m run, she just missed her best time of the season but still won by 54 seconds in 11:00.93. Paola’s Darian Hudgeons picked up the silver in 11:54.29. Girard’s Callie Logue set the 4A state mark of 10:28.80 in 2017. Briggs will join Logue next season at Iowa State.

Briggs also entered state ranked No. 3 all-class in the 1600m run. She ran less than a second off her best time to win that race by nearly six seconds in 5:01.75. Chapman’s Elyssa Frieze finished second in 5:07.38, and Clearwater’s Hayley Trotter ran third in 5:08.13.

The senior Trotter, ranked No. 9 all-class entering state, posted her best time of the season to win the 800m run in 2:18.82. Paola’s Marina Johnson won the silver in 2:22.38, and Frieze placed third in 2:24.11.

Wellington’s Cullens dazzles in hurdles

Wellington sophomore Annalisa Cullens entered the final meet of the season as the state’s best hurdler – ranked No. 1 all-class in the 300s and No. 2 all-class in the 100s. Friday she simply did what she does. She cruised to the 100m hurdle title in 14.39, tying for the all-class lead there. Andale’s Cali Kerschen finished second in 15.14, and Buhler’s Caylin Seely won the bronze in 15.25.

Even running against Pratt’s No. 4 all-class senior Sian Helfrich in the 300s, Cullens still won by nearly two seconds, just missing her best time by 0.02 seconds in 45.05. Helfrich finished second in 46.75, followed by Paola’s Maddie Pitzer in 47.35 for the bronze.

Louisburg boys win close team race

Andale’s boys won the 2019 team championship by 12 points with 71. The Indians kept it consistent Friday with 73 points. This time, that was good enough only for second to Louisburg’s 77.5 points. Buhler and Chanute took the next two team spots with 53 and 50 points, respectively.

Ashihi wins loaded 400m dash

If the 3A girls’ hurdles and the 5A boys 100m dash were marquee events, so was the 4A boys’ 400m dash with three of the top-five times posted in Kansas this spring. The race lived up to expectations with El Dorado junior Tylen Ashihi winning by just 0.05 seconds in 49.59. Chanute sophomore Rawley Chard finished second in 49.64, and Bishop Miege’s Patrick McCallop taking the bronze in 50.36. Clearwater senior Zach Trotter had the No. 5 all-class time but did not qualify for state in that event.

Trotter did, however, win the 800m run. Ranked No. 6 all-class there, he ran a second off his best time of the season to take the gold by three-plus seconds in 1:57.27. Rose Hill’s Andrew Leck placed second in 2:00.44, and Winfield’s Camilo Leos-Tarin ran third in 2:01.59, just ahead of Andale’s Zach Winter in 2:01.83.

Schmidt wins distance gold for Augusta

The all-class distance ranks were loaded with runners from the northeast corner of the state. Augusta junior Sawyer Schmidt was among the rare exceptions there. Ranked fifth behind two of the state’s all-time bests in the 3200m run, Schmidt made easy work of his 4A opponents in that race Friday. He finished in 9:37.23, followed by Buhler’s Tanner Lindahl in 9:44.93 for the silver, and Winfield’s Craig LaBrue in 10:03.91 for third.

With a best time of 4:19.10, Schmidt ranked No. 6 all-class in the 1600m run. There he won the gold in 4:23.44, followed by Winfield’s Leos-Tarin in 4:27.69 for the silver. Leck ran third for Rose Hill in 4:29.60, and Lindahl placed fourth for Buhler in 4:32.99.

Wellington’s Fehrman ruins shot put sweep

No one can say Wellington senior Kenny Ferhman ruined the fun in Friday afternoon’s shot finale. A healthy back-and-forth with fans and competitors made for a raucous atmosphere. Andale sophomore Jackson Kraus entered the field as the favorite with a top throw of 55-4.5, and the Indians had the three best regional throws among 4A qualifiers.

But Ferhman just kept getting better. Opening with a foul, he improved on almost every throw, eventually adding nearly three feet to his final effort for a throw of 54-2.5. Kraus had to settle for the silver at 52-5.75, followed by junior teammate Beau Kerschen in third at 52-1.75. Andale sophomore Noah Bruce placed fifth at 50-7.75.

Andale sophomore Riley Marx entered Friday’s javelin field ranked No. 4 all-class with a top throw of 190-6. He bettered that mark by four feet, moving the No. 2 all-class this season with the win at 194-7. Paola senior Bo Robison, ranked No. 2 all-class prior to state, finished 13 inches off his season best for the silver at 191-7. Clearwater’s Tanner Cash won the bronze with a throw of 179-10.

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