It just may well have been their toughest fight yet, but the Newton girls track and field team was up to the task at the 2018 Kansas State Track and Field championships, which concluded Saturday at Cessna Stadium.
And no, Manhattan, your boys' track and field team is not jinxed. More on that in a bit...
Newton won its third consecutive class 5A girls state track and field championship much in the same way it had won the previous two - with a whole lot of speed. The Railers scored 87 points to pull away late for a win over St. James Academy, which scored 76. Pittsburg was third at 70 and Mill Valley had 69.5 for fourth; the four teams were within a few points of each other throughout much of Saturday afternoon.
Newton junior Maggie Remsberg won the 100 hurdles, was second in the 300 hurdles and long jump, and ran a leg on the second-place 4 X 400 relay team for a total of 34 points toward the team title. Senior Savannah Simmons won four medals, too: a first (4 X 100 relay), second (4 X 400 relay), third (100) and fourth (200), while junior Kalli Anderson was second in the 100 and 200 and ran a leg on the winning 4 X 100 relay.
Senior Taylor Antonowich added important points with a fourth place finish in the 400, and ran a remarkable curve on the third leg of the 4 X 100 that gave Simmons a comfortable lead for the anchor leg.
St. James tried to counter Newton's every move with strength in the distance and middle distance events. Sophomore Katie Moore won the 400 in 56.80 and was second in the 800 (2:15.51). Another sophomore, Sarah Murrow, was second in the 1600 (5:10.72) and 3200 (11:05.27). St. James was also dominant in the relays, setting an all-class record in the 4 X 800 (9:19.60) and a class 5A record in the 4 X 400 (3:56.56).
If there's any consolation for St. James it's that all but one of their point scorers will be back next year...and in fact, for two more years. Most of the team that ran this week at state are sophomores.
Manhattan's boys won the class 6A state championship for the first time since 2009, a ten-year stretch in which they also finished in second place five times. That streak of runner-up finishes is now officially history.
They were perhaps a very slight underdog heading into the meet to Shawnee Mission Northwest; at the very least, it was going to be a dig-down-to-your-toenails finish between the two schools.
But Manhattan clinched the title after the 200 meter run when senior speedster Clyde King, Jr. placed second and gave the Indians a 20-point lead heading to the final event - the 4 X 400 relay. Shawnee Mission Northwest won that event, but it only cut Manhattan's win to 10 points as the final tally read Manhattan 76, Shawnee Mission Northwest 66.
King also placed second in the 400 meters, and ran a leg on the 4 X 100 relay in which Manhattan placed third.
But Manhattan had 13 athletes who earned medals on the weekend, and they scored in 11 of the 18 events. Senior Cooper Schroeder won the 3200 meter run and placed third in the 1600; freshman Daniel Harkin was fourth in the 3200 and seventh in the 1600; senior Logan Logback was third in the 800; junior James Higgs was third in the discus and sixth in the shot put; and sophomore Sam Hankins - ranked No. 3 in the United States - won the javelin.
The Indians also placed fourth in the 4 X 100 relay and sixth in the 4 X 800 relay.
Senior Hayden Goodpaster highlighted Shawnee Mission Northwest's runner-up finish as he won the 400 in 47.77, then turned a split of 47.44 on the anchor leg of the winning 4 X 400 meter relay. He was also fourth in the 200.
There was no drama left by the time the 4 X 400 relays hit the track this year. The boys and girls titles in every division were already decided by that time.
Here is a class-by-class rundown of the team state titles:
While Manhattan was winning the boys' division, Lawrence was having a surprisingly easy time on the girls' side. The Lions scored 81 points to beat pre-meet favorite Olathe Northwest, which had 61. Shawnee Mission East was third at 55.5.
Junior Evann Seratte had a busy -- and productive -- day. She won the 800 meter run over defending state champion Sophie Scott of Blue Valley North with a wicked kick down the last 80 meters. She was also second in the 400, and ran a leg on the 4 X 400 (second place) and 4 X 800 (sixth) relays.
Sophomore Asjah Harris was second in the 200, junior Baylee Unruh was second in the javelin, junior Josie Hickerson was second in the pole vault, junior Chisom Ajekwu was third in the shot put, and junior Hannah Stewart was third in the 800. Lawrence also won the 4 X 100 on a blazing anchor by Harris, and finished second in the 4 X 400.
All of Lawrence's point scorers in the individual events will be back to defend the title next year.
Newton's girls got most of the headlines, but maybe that's because Bishop Carroll winning in class 5A boys was a foregone conclusion. Bishop Carroll wrapped up a dominating season with a 40-point win, scoring 119 points to runner-up Shawnee Heights, which had 79.
Individual state champions for Bishop Carroll included Joseph Holthusen (110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Jason Irwin (800), and Ethan Hull (pole vault). The squad also had runner-up finishes from Austin Mernagh (100 and high jump), Augustine McCormick (pole vault), Jack Ebright (triple jump) and its' 4 X 800 relay.
Bishop Carroll had 17 athletes who scored points in the meet, and the squad scored in 15 of the 18 events.
Michael Hoffer of Shawnee Heights was one of the brightest stars of the meet, winning the high jump, long jump and triple jump.
Abby Smarsh of Andale successfully defended her state title in the 300 hurdles, finishing in a career-best time of 44.73. She was the only individual winner for Andale in the meet, though the squad did win the 4 X 100 and 4 X 400 relays; Smarsh ran a leg on both of those relays, ending the day with three gold medals and a third place finish in the 100 hurdles.
Buhler's Bradon Rose won state titles in the javelin and shot put, and was third in the discus. Clay Eckert won the 110 hurdles. Brendan Webb scored in three events - the shot put, triple jump and discus - and the 4 X 800 relay team placed third.
Wyatt Hayes of Scott Community won the 800 meter run, and the team also won the 4 X 400 and 4 X 800 meter relays. Marshall Faurot had three second place finishes (110 hurdles, pole vault and high jump). The 4 X 100 meter relay placed second, as well. Kaden Wren was third in the 400.
Nemaha Central's girls put up 77 points and it was plenty to beat Sterling, which had 46.5. Defending champion Beloit was third with 40.5.
Jacy Dalinghaus was the only state champion for Nemaha Central, winning the javelin, but the squad did get runner-up finishes from Allison Rottinghaus (triple jump and long jump), Laura Macke (javelin) and Alleigh Kramer (200). Kramer was also third in the 100, and Rottinghaus was fourth in the 200.
Bennington swept the team titles in class 2A, riding its strength in the field events on the boys' side and strength on the track on the girls' side.
In the boys' meet, Bennington finished with 59.5 points to runner-up Stanton County's 53, which got eight points in the last event of the meet to shrink the margin. Smith Center was third with 42 points and Yates Center - on the strength of four state titles by junior Hadley Splechter - scored 40 points for fourth.
Jaquan Allen (long jump) and Ryan Stanley (pole vault) both won gold for Bennington. Javon Allen placed second in the 200 and third in the 100, and Stanley was third in the 110 hurdles. Bennington also got a second place finish from its 4 X 100 relay.
Bennington's girls scored 73.5 points to unseat two-time defending champion Valley Heights, which scored 48. Bennington got one state title from senior standout Halle Johnson in the 1600. She also placed second in the 3200 and 800, capping a remarkable career for the Wichita State-bound senior who won five high school state titles. The 4 X 800 relay also placed second.
The squad also had third place finishes from Tacey Kaiser (triple jump), Chloe Stanley (300 hurdles) and its 4 X 400 meter relay team; and fourth place finishes from Stanley (pole vault) and Peyton Piepho (3200).
South Gray's boys held off a pesky Centralia team to win the class 1A title. South Gray scored 77 points to Centralia's 63, highlighted by a pair of state championships from Gilbert Peters in the shot put and discus. South Gray's Craig Griebel won the 400 and was the state runner-up in the 100 and 200.
The class 1A girls title went to a talented Hanover team, which finished second last year after Centralia rallied in the last event of the meet to snare the title. This year, there would be no chance in the 4 X 400, as Hanover scored 65 points to Centralia's 49.
Hanover got state titles from Claire Zarybnicky (1600), Macy Doebele (triple jump) and its' 4 X 800 relay (anchored by Zarybnicky); runner-up finishes from Zarybnicky (800) and its 4 X 100 relay; and third place finishes from Doebele (long jump) and the 4 X 400 relay.
Hanover won the state title despite the fact that they do not have a track to practice on.
Centralia junior Madison Lueger set a class 1A record in the javelin, winning with a throw of 144-2. Junior teammate Breanna Schmitz won the pole vault, regaining a title she had won two years ago as a freshman. She placed second in the event last year.