At league meets across the state, the stars of Kansas track and field were shining brightly, but perhaps no one burned hotter than a little-known freshman from one of the smallest schools in the state.
Tyus Wilson of Sterling -- a school of 161 students -- cleared 7-0 to win the Central Kansas League title in the high jump, but more impressively, he is the No. 1 freshman jumper in the United States currently. He is the only U.S. freshman to top 7-0 this season, four inches better than the next-best frosh.
He is also now No. 2 overall in Kansas, just one-quarter inch behind Shawnee Heights' senior Michael Hoffer, who cleared 7-0.25 nearly a month ago at the Pre-State Challenge in Wichita. Wilson will be a strong favorite to win the class 3A state championship in two weeks, having jumped six inches higher than the next-best competitor in that division.
It's all pretty heady stuff for a guy whose best jump in junior high was 5-9.25, though he has cleared 6-2 or better in every meet this season -- in fact, he cleared 6-10 just one week earlier.
Some other highlights from league meets this week include:
The finals of the boys 100 meter dash at the Greater Wichita League championships just may have been a preview of the class 6A state finals as four runners clocked 10.54 or faster. And if speed thrills -- as is often said -- then the crowd was downright giddy after watching this one.
Wichita Southeast's Ollie McGee won the race in a blazing 10.38 -- knocking nearly .2 of a second off the previous state best -- just a flash ahead of Xavier Sellers of Wichita West (10.48), Deron Dudley of Wichita South (10.49) and Phillip Landrum of Wichita South (10.54). Landrum is the defending class 6A state champion in the event.
McGee has established himself as Kansas' top sprinter throughout the 2018 season, and now sits at No. 6 in the United States in the 100 meters. All four of those sprinters now sit in the top 31 of the U.S. MileSplit rankings based on their league times.
Landrum turned the tables in the 200, however, winning in a state-leading time of 21.02 while McGee was just a shade behind in 21.04 and Sellers placed third at 21.76. Landrum's time puts him at No. 12 in the U.S. while McGee is at No. 14 in the country.
Landrum also won the 400 in 50.18.
Other multiple winners for the boys include Joseph Holthusen of Bishop Carroll in the 110 hurdles (14.23, the No. 4 time in Kansas) and 300 hurdles (39.47); and the Wichita Southeast 4X100 (42.14, now No. 1 in Kansas) and 4X400 (3:29.97) relays.
Christal Mosley of Wichita Southeast won three events at the Greater Wichita League championships. She clocked 23.80 to win the 200 by nearly two seconds, and 59.71 to win the 400 by two and one-half seconds. Mosley had earlier won the high jump with a leap of 5-5.
Other multiple event winners for the girls at the Wichita League championships included Kindel Nordhus of Bishop Carroll in the 100 hurdles (15.23) and 300 hurdles (45.18), and Blair Sebastian of Wichita Northwest in the long jump (17-9.75) and triple jump (36-3.5).
Katie Moore of St. James Academy knocked more than 3 seconds off the previous state-best in the 800, clocking 2:13.58 to win the Eastern Kansas League title in convincing fashion over class 6A defending state champion Sophie Scott of Blue Valley North. Scott, however, had just previously become the third Kansas girl to break 5:00 in the 1600 meters when she won that event in a career-best 4:59.12.
Class 6A cross country champion Riley Beach of Blue Valley Northwest, a freshman, won the Eastern Kansas League title in the 3200 with a time of 11:11.14.
The distance events also seemed to steal the spotlight in the EKL boys meet. The 1600 came down to a photo finish with Mill Valley's Mitch Dervin (4:24.49) scoring a win by one-hundredth of a second over St. James Academy's Jack Moore (4.24.50). Luke Jensen of Blue Valley West won the 800 in 1:56.97 to move to No. 2 in the class 6A Kansas rankings.
John Fischbach of Blue Valley Northwest won the long jump with a mark of 22-7.5, Malike Bauer of Blue Valley North won the triple jump at 44-2, and Nick Orr of Blue Valley North won the discus with a throw of 160-2.
Shawnee Heights' freshman Shelby Butterfield had a nice introduction to the Centennial League meet, winning the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.28 for a two second victory over class 6A defending state champion Kiena Newman of Junction City. Butterfield also won the long jump with an effort of 17-2.
Newman, also the defending state champion in the 100 hurdles, smoked the field in that event, clocking 14.98.
Lyric Holman of Junction City won all three sprints, clocking 12.25 in the 100, 25.89 in the 200, and 59.62 in the 400. Junction City also won the 4X100 relay and was second in the 4X400.
Junction City's girls won the league title handily, also keyed by a 1-2-3 finish in the shot put by Sherrie Jones (38-1.75), Savannah Adams (37-9.75) and Hannah Reynolds (36-4.25). Reynolds also won the discus with a throw of 117-9.
Suffice it to say that the sprint and field event rich Junction City girls program is heading in the right direction as it tries to defend the class 6A team title it won a year ago.
Manhattan continued to dominate the distance events at the Centennial League meet. Emily Keeley won the 800 meters (2:24.61) while class 6A state cross country runner-up Clara Mayfield clocked a career-best in the 1600 (5:02.66) and won the 3200 in a solid 11:11.64.
For the boys, Manhattan's Cooper Schroeder -- the state leader in the 3200 meter run -- cruised to a pair of victories in the 1600 (4:29.03) and 3200 (9:43.56). Teammate Logan Logback -- the class 6A leader in the 800 meter run -- won that event in 1:58.89.
Freshman Daniel Harkin -- the No. 13 ranked freshman 3200 meter runner in the country right now -- placed second to Schroeder in both events in the Thursday meet. Then, on Friday, Harkin competed in the state tennis championships where he placed fourth in class 6A singles.
Manhattan, a top 2 favorite to win the class 6A state team title this year, also got big points from senior speedster Clyde King, Jr. in the 200 (21.94) and 400 (49.74). Junction City's Jamarcus Plato won the 110 hurdles (14.79) and 300 hurdles (40.02).
The Centennial League field events -- and probably all of Kansas class 5A -- are the domain of Shawnee Heights' Michael Hoffer. He won league titles this year in the high jump (6-10), long jump (24-3, the best jump in Kansas this season and No. 3 in the United States), and triple jump (45-4.5). Hoffer's season-best of 7-0.25 in the high jump is the sixth-best mark in the United States this year.
Other top field event performances at the Centennial League included Zac Chandler of Washburn Rural in the pole vault (15-3), Shawnee Heights' Cade Holmes in the discus (170-0) and Manhattan's Sam Hankins in the javelin (195-0).
Newton speedsters Kalli Anderson and Savannah Simmons flip-flopped 1-2 finishes in the 100 and 200 meters runs at the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League championships. Anderson won the 100 in 11.78 (Simmons was second at 11.97) while Simmons won the 200 in 25.82 (Anderson was second at 26.16). Taylor Antonowich made it a sweep of the sprints for Newton, winning the 400 in 58.89.
Newton's girls also won the 4X100 (48.21) and 4X400 (4:04.28) relays.
Tayezhan Crough of Hutchinson, just a sophomore, put himself at No. 1 in Kansas in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 14.12 in the prelims. He later won the AVCTL title in 14.32. Crough also won the 300 hurdles with a time of 39.93.
A mild surprise took place in the girls 800 meter run at the Sunflower League championships when sophomore Eleanor Hlobik of Shawnee Mission East out-sprinted Shawnee Mission Northwest's Molly Born to win in a time of 2:19.24. Born is a seven-time state champion in cross country and track and field, and nationally-ranked in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs.
But a whole lot else went as expected at the Sunflower League meet. Leavenworth's Aarika Lister won the 100 (12.10) and 200 (24.97) and teammate Wynter Ramos completed the sweep of the sprints by winning the 400 in 58.70.
Jaleesa McWashington of Olathe Northwest won the long jump with a mark of 19-0.5, the third best jump in Kansas this season. But Jessie Stindt of Shawnee Mission East jumped 39-6 to edge McWashington (38-10.25) in the triple jump; those marks rank No. 1 and No. 3 in Kansas this season.
Abigail Kelly-Salo of Shawnee Mission Northwest won the Sunflower League pole vault title at 12-3 -- which moves her to No. 3 in Kansas this season -- while nationally-ranked javelin thrower Dana Baker of Olathe North won that event with a mark of 164-2. Baylee Unruh of Lawrence was a solid second place to Baker, throwing the javelin 142-4, which is the fifth best mark in Kansas this season.
Two other Lawrence High javelin throwers were also impressive. Senior Hunter Krom won the boys' title at 193-7, and teammate Harrison King was second at 185-10. Krom is already the No. 2 javelin thrower in Kansas this season, and No. 14 in the United States. King is now No. 7 in Kansas.
Hayden Goodpaster of Shawnee Mission Northwest won the 200 (22.32) and 400 (48.71), and Reggie Edwards of Shawnee Mission West was also a multiple event winner, taking the long jump (22-2) and triple jump (45-3).
Shawnee Mission Northwest's boys -- a solid pick to win the class 6A team title this year -- also got event wins from Travis Morrison in the shot put (53-2), Seth Mosburg in the pole vault (13-6), and Luke Sabus in the 3200 meter run (9:50.40).
Rising up the National Rankings
A pair of Kansas throwers moved further up the national rankings in winning their respective league meets last week.
Sydney Johnson of Beloit won NCAA League titles in the discus (156-8) and shot put (44-10). She was already the state leader in both of those events, but now she's also No. 18 in the U.S. in the discus and No. 59 in the shot put.
Two others who posted state-leading marks this week were Cale Carson of El Dorado and Emma Ruddle of McPherson, also in the AVCTL Div. 3 meet. Carson won the 800 meters in 1:53.41 and Ruddle took the 100 hurdles in 14.49.
Meet results from many of Kansas' league meets have piled in over the past few days. Check them out on the KS MileSplit results page, ks.milesplit.com/results.