Multi-state champions put exclamation point on track season

Stanton County's Chesney Peterson made history at the Class 1A state track meet in Wichita
Published: May. 28, 2022 at 11:31 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Spectators at the 2022 State Track and Field Championships witnessed one of the best individual performances in state history Saturday. Entering the weekend, just two female athletes in state history had won four individual state titles on the track. Only Claflin’s Jackie Stiles, 26 years ago, did it in the distance events.

Add Stanton County junior Chesney Peterson to the list. The all-class leader in the 800, 1600, and 3200m runs this season, Peterson won Class 2A golds in each and also the 400m dash, joining Stiles on a very short list of accomplished athletes at the state meet.

“All I’m thinking about is my team right now,” Peterson said. “We’ve only had two girls make it into the finals (after the 400m dash), with one of them being me. I’m doing all I can for my team to get as many points as possible. Doing that, I need to win all my individuals. I think I’ll feel all the historic effects of it after I’m done but right now I’m just worried about each race individually.”

Peterson cruised in the 3200m finals Friday night. She opened a busy day Saturday by breaking her own meet record from a year ago by six seconds for the win in 4:54.00.

“I saw it on the forecast a week ago that Saturday was supposed to be hot and windy,” she said. “I was just going to go off of feel. If I felt good, I didn’t see a reason why not to go for it. Honestly, the wind wasn’t that bad because it was cooling down the temperature, not making it warmer.”

The heat and wind did catch up as much as it could. Peterson ran the third-fastest 400m dash in the state this spring. She won that event by nearly a second in 60.15. Peterson ranks No. 4 all-time in the state in the 800m dash. She won that race by nearly eight seconds in 2:18.70 over Remington’s Kaleigh O’Brien. Wabaunsee freshman Payton Wurtz qualified in the same four races as Peterson, picking up three silvers and a fourth-place finish.

Kiowa County senior Addi Heinson won four golds last year, including a sweep of the sprints. She was back at it Saturday with golds in the 100, 200, and 400. On a windy day, the top-three 100m dash sprinters in Heinson, Victoria’s Macy Hammerschmidt, and Rawlins County’s Michaela Rippe all broke the 1A meet record. Heinson beat Hammerschmidt by 0.01 seconds in 12.11.

Heinson defeated Hanover’s Anna Jueneman by more than a second for the 200m gold in 26.26. That pair also took the gold and silver in the 400m dash with Heinson winning by nearly a second in 59.32.

Andale junior Mckenzie Fairchild led the Lady Indians to a fifth-straight 4A title with gold...
Andale junior Mckenzie Fairchild led the Lady Indians to a fifth-straight 4A title with gold medals in all three throwing events. Her javelin throw Saturday would have set a meet record in four of the six classifications.((photo by Mike Courson))

Andale junior Mckenzie Fairchild opened a big state meet with the 4A discus gold Friday. She was just as impressive Saturday, winning the shot put by 10 inches at 40-3.25 over McPherson’s Tailynn Buettgenbach. In the final field session of the season, Fairchild beat the 4A javelin field by nearly 23 feet at 163-3. Paola’s Mackenzie Kuehl finished second at 140-6. Fairchild’s throw would have been a meet record in four of the six classifications, but big sister Katelyn Fairchild threw 170-0 at state last May.

Back on the track, the 6A 100m dash featured two of the state’s top-10 all-time best. Olathe North junior KaLiyah McGinnis set the meet record and improved upon her No. 5 all-time finish in 11.60. Wichita East senior Denae McElrath ran third in 11.91.

Wellington junior Annalisa Cullens has been the most impressive hurdler in the state this spring. After qualifying in the 100m dash finals early Saturday morning, Cullens set a new 4A meet record in the 100m hurdles with the win in 14.29. Andale’s Cali Kerschen ran second in 14.74. Cullens also repeated as champion in the 300s, beating Clearwater’s Madison Williams by more than a second in 44.43. Cullens also picked up medals in the 100m dash and 4x100m relay.

In team races, it comes as no surprise that Andale won its fifth-straight 4A title with 152 points. Eudora won second place comfortably with 78 points. The Lady Indian 4x100 team of Kerschen, Camryn Winter, Piper Camp, and Betsy Reichenberger beat Eudora for the title in 49.73. Andale’s 4x400 team of Reichenberger, Winter, Ava Steven, and Maddie Schrandt beat McPherson by five seconds for the gold in 4:09.89. Schrandt won the open 400 by half a second in 59.09 over Louisburg’s Delaney Wright.

The Class 5A race for second place went down to the wire, quite literally. Mill Valley already had the title wrapped up but Kapaun led Great Bend by a single point heading into Great Bend’s strongest event - the 4x400m relay to end the season. The Lady Panther team of Eliana Beckham, Makenzie Premer, Sadie Spray, and Kara Feist edged Kapaun by just 0.08 seconds for the title in 4:03.85, using the 2-point edge to vault past the Crusaders for second-place overall.

In Class 1A, Hanover defeated Kiowa County by eight points to end the Lady Mavs’ state win streak at two. Garden Plain edged Wabaunsee by just three points to collect its third-straight Class 2A crown. Smoky Valley dominated the 3A field for a second-straight title, and Olathe Northwest edged Shawnee Mission Northwest by a single point for the Class 6A championship.

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