It was mostly a ho-hum night for distance running as the state's class 1A-3A runners took to the track for the finals of the 3200 meter run at the Kansas State Track and Field championships Friday.
Five of the six winners were expected; the lone exception was in the class 2A girls race where Trego Community's Helen Giefer ran a steady race and then pulled away from pre-race favorite Halle Johnson of Bennington in the last two laps.
Giefer posted a convincing win in 11:13.24 while Johnson -- who swept the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter races at last year's championships -- was second this year in 11:30.83. Johnson also had won the 2A state cross country title last fall, and had the top times in all three of the class 2A distance events heading into this week's state meet.
For Giefer, it's the first state title in her career. The junior completed an undefeated season in the 3200, winning her ninth race of the year. Her best finish at the state track and field meet before Friday was fifth in the 3200 in 2015.
Johnson will try to rebound on Saturday in the 1600 and 800 meter runs. Giefer is also slated to run in the 1600.
In what some might consider a mild upset, Hannah Burks of Beloit won the class 3A girls 3200 meter run in a time of 11:43.65. She beat two-time defending champion Elizabeth Kettler of Hiawatha, who gave a spirited run in the last three laps trying to catch Burks.
Both runners sprinted home in 1:17 on the final lap, but Burks had built too big of a lead for Kettler to make up. She finished second in 11:50.15. Makaela Stevens of Scott Community placed third in 12:10.58.
For Burks, it is the second state title of her career. The sophomore won the class 3A cross country state championship last October.
Hadley Splechter of Yates Center continued to rack up the state titles. The junior picked up the fourth individual title of his career as he successfully defended the class 2A boys 3200 meter crown he won a year ago. He finished in 9:36 to beat Ethan Thompson of Meade (9:41.59) and Cooper Mumford of Kansas City Christian (10:04.15).
Autumn Princ of Sylvan-Lucas continued marching on. The sophomore has now won five of six state meet races she has run in her young career, adding another class 1A 3200 meter title to her credit. Her time on Friday was an easy 12:08.05. She has now won two state cross country titles, two 3200 meter titles and one 1600 meter title. She will try to add the second 1600 title on Saturday.
In the class 3A boys 3200 meter run, Owen Pearce of Kingman clocked 1:04 for the last 400 meters to win in 9:35.45. Joshua Rutledge of Riverton was right on Pearce's shoulder with a lap to go, but couldn't match his finishing kick as he settled for second in 9:37.26.
Pearce successfully defended the 3200 meter title he won a year ago, and has now won three state titles, including the class 3A cross country crown in 2016. He will run in the 1600 and 800 on Saturday.
David Lutgen of Beloit-St. John's won the class 1A boys 3200 meter title on Friday. Lutgen led from start to finish, pushing a nine second advantage at the 1600 mark to more than 30 seconds by race end. His winning time was 9:28.98. Lutgen has committed to run at Kansas State University next year.