Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Molly Born made her long-anticipated return to the 3200 meter run on Friday at the Kansas Relays, finishing second place in a time of 10:45.75 on a cold, windy afternoon at Rock Chalk Park.
Despite the rough weather, it's the fastest time run in the 3200 by a Kansas girl this season, and serves notice to the rest of the state that the two-time class 6A state champion in the event is back after injury cut short her 2017 season.
Victoria Findley of Blue Springs South, the Missouri class 5 state champion in cross country and 3200 meters last year, seemed less affected by the wind and cold than the rest of the field as she won the Kansas Relays with a career-best time of 10:35.25.
But the eyes of many Kansas track and field fans were on Born, who won the class 6A 1600 and 3200 meter runs in 2015 and 2016. A year ago, Born was one of three Kansas girls who broke the Kansas Relays record in the event, finishing second in a time of 10:10.64. At the time, it was the sixth best time in the United States.
Times that fast were going to be hard to come by on a day when the cold winds were slowing runners on the backstretch. As she did a year earlier, Born took out the pace for the first two laps, with Findley just off her shoulder.
Findley took charge on lap three, however, and gradually stretched her lead. Born and Argyle (Tex.) Liberty Christian's Elizabeth Reneau battled for second and third until the last lap, when Born's strength and kick won out.
In the boys' 3200 meter run, Hadley Splechter of Yates Center was equally impressive, finishing second and grabbing the top time in Kansas this year at 9:24.26. Splechter, the Kansas class 2A state champion in cross country, 1600 and 3200, methodically worked his way up, and then put on a strong kick at the end to edge Max McDaniels of Festus (9:25.08).
Dylan Miller of Blue Valley Southwest was fourth in 9:31.59 and Ethan Marshall of St. Thomas Aquinas placed fifth in 9:32.05. Miller already had the No. 2 time in Kansas, while Marshall -- the class 5A state cross country champion -- now has the state's third fastest time so far this season.
Also on Friday afternoon:
* Emmanuel Okwuone of Olathe South ran the fastest time in Kansas this year in the boys 300 meter hurdles, winning the Kansas Relays with a time of 38.79. Okwuone, running out of lane 7, made up a small deficit to Chillicothe's (Mo.) Brett Shaffer to win with a career-best by nearly a half-second, 39.26, which he ran to finish third in the class 6A state championships a year ago. Isaac Diggs of Shawnee Mission North, winner of the third heat, placed seventh overall with a time of 40.38.
* The top five Kansas girls in the 300 meter hurdles were all in action at Rock Chalk Park, and all finished among the top 10. Layne Needham of Cheney was the top Kansas finisher, placing third in a time of 46.04 -- just off her state-leading time of 45.87. Abby Smarsh of Andale was fourth (46.30), followed by Kindel Nordhus of Bishop Carroll (5th, 46.34), Taylor Savolt of Garden City (8th, 47.11) and Kate Allen of Heritage Christian (9th, 47.34).
* Bennington's Halle Johnson and Lawrence's Evann Seratte ran the second and third fastest 800 meters in Kansas this season, finishing fifth and sixth overall Friday. Johnson, who swept state titles in the 800, 1600 and 3200 in class 2A last year, clocked 2:18.63, while Seratte's time was 2:19.72.
* The boys' 800 was dominated by Kansas runners. Bishop Carroll's Jason Irwin won the event in 1:56.20, while El Dorado's Cale Carson was second in 1:57.23 and Mill Valley's Mitchell Dervin was fourth in 1:57.91.
* St. James Academy placed second in the girls distance medley, clocking a time of 12:29.78. Katie Moore's split of 2:19 in the 800 leg Sarah Murrow's closing mile in 5:16 highlighted the squad's effort. Olathe North's girls finished seventh (13:02.78) and Shawnee Mission East was eighth (13:07.54). Lee's Summit West (Mo.) set the Kansas Relays record in the event with a time of 12:19.65.
* Manhattan was the top finishing school from Kansas in the boy's distance medley, finishing third with a time of 10:45.42. Clyde King, Jr. ran a split of 48.03 in the 400 and Cooper Schroeder clocked 4:31.74 in the 1600 to highlight Manhattan's effort. St. James Academy placed eighth in 10:59.38, and St. Thomas Aquinas was ninth in 10:59.45.
* Olathe Northwest's girls and Gardner-Edgerton's boys were the only Kansas teams to qualify for Saturday's finals of the 4 X 100 meter relay. Olathe Northwest won the fourth heat in 49.70, while Gardner Edgerton won the third heat in 43.44.
* St. James Academy's girls qualified for Saturday's finals in the 4 X 400 meter relay, while three Kansas schools -- Shawnee Mission Northwest, Olathe South and Gardner-Edgerton -- qualified for the boys finals in that relay.
High school events at the Kansas Relays get going again on Saturday morning and will finish up by 2:30 p.m.
For results of high school events during Friday's morning session, read Kansas MileSplit's recap here.