Andover relay team shines at KU Relays

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KWCH) -- Spring was finally on its best behavior for one the season's marquee track meets. Temperatures reached 80 degrees on the final day of the KU Relays at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence. The favorable conditions helped some athletes to season and personal bests.

First and foremost was the Andover 4x800m relay team. The Trojan boys had the No. 3 time in Kansas coming into the Relays at 8:17. Andover ran fifth in Saturday's finals in 8:07.61, the fastest time in the state by five seconds at that time. Shawnee Mission East ran an 8:09.31 in the next heat to cut into that lead.

"We wanted to see if we could get our school record and we were pretty close to that; 8:03 is our school record," said Ryan Kinnane, who ran the first leg. "We wanted to hang in there and get the quickest time possible for regionals."

"Today was a beautiful day. I couldn't really feel the wind. It helped on (the back stretch)," said third leg Joshua Jackson.

Sam McDavitt ran the final leg of the race. He passed his opponent late in the first lap to give the Trojans the lead in their heat. He was later passed on the back side. "I went fast the first lap and passed him," he said. "I just didn't have any energy left in the second lap. I can continue to get better throughout this season with training and working on finishing strong."

Beyond Andover and SM East, no Kansas time has ran under 8:14 this spring. "We were stoked to get that time," said second leg Asher Moen. "It's a huge honor to have the fastest time in Kansas. We're going for that state title in May."

Kansas' best was enough for the top-two spots in the boys' javelin. Manhattan's Sam Hankins, ranked No. 10 Kansas All-Time, just missed his season best to win at 209-2. Cheney senior Trey Patterson led heading into the finals and finished second with a personal best 205-1. "Sam and I have competed a lot this season," Patterson said. "It was a pretty nice day, probably the best conditions we've had. It was a pretty nice day to PR."

Patterson had topped out a 199-2 on his first throw of the finals. His big throw came on his final of the day. "My brother told me to run faster so I ran faster," he laughed.

Nickerson's Hunter Jones entered the day just an inch behind Patterson at No. 2 in the state this spring. He threw 15 feet shy of his season best to place fourth at 178-3.

"It's awesome seeing all the good throwers, jumpers, and sprinters," Jones said. "You don't really get to see this stuff in high school."

Jones' busy weekend included a third-place finish in the high jump at 6-8, the same mark as the top-two finishers, including Maize senior Caleb Grill in the top spot. Jones ran 14th in the 300m hurdles.

Smoky Valley sophomore Belle Peters has made an immediate mark on the sport. Last year as a freshman she cleared 12-10 in the pole vault to climb to No. 5 in the all-time state rankings. Entering Saturday morning she led Kansas with a season-best 12-3. She topped out at 11-6 to finish fourth behind three non-Kansas vaulters.

"I'm not really sure what was happening," she said. "My first couple jumps I just wasn't connecting all the way."

Peters was also a finalist in the 100m hurdles with the eighth-fastest time in Kansas this spring. She finished ninth in that race in 15.14. Cheney senior Layne Needham, ranked No 7 in Kansas this spring, ran sixth in 15.07.

"It's way more relaxed and I like it a lot more," Peters said of the Relays compared to the state meet. "I think it's more of a friendly environment here. At state it's like you just have to go, go."

Needham's main event is the 300m hurdles. She ran her best time of the season to finish second night Friday, staying at No. 2 in Kansas this spring at 44.87.

A pair of area girls just missed on the long jump finals Saturday morning. Garden City's Taylor Savolt missed the finals by five inches, placing 13th at 16-7.25. Maize junior Cassandra Onwugbufor finished at 16-3 for 19th.

Winfield's Jack Mull entered Saturday afternoon's 110m hurdle finals ranked No. 6 in Kansas at 14.91. He ran his best race of the season to move to No. 2 in Kansas this spring at 14.70. That was good enough for just sixth place in the loaded Relays field.

Cheney senior Jason Hubener is also knocked on the door at No. 1 in Kansas with a sixth-place finish in the 100m dash in 10.79. Only three Kansas sprinters have better times this spring, led by Hutchinson's Davian Vigil and Smoky Valley's Timmy Lambert, both at 10.76.

Near the end of the day, University of Kansas freshman Zach Bradford provided perhaps the biggest highlight of the day. He cleared 18-11 in the pole vault to set a new school record and move to No. 4 in the world in 2019.