When the calendar turns to late May, and the spectacle that
is the Kansas State Track and Field Championships nears, do yourself a favor:
buy a ticket, sit upright and prep yourself for any event that involves Class
This division is dripping with star power and future college athletes, including the
defending champions returning in 12 of the 15 non-relay events. And that
doesn't even count Maize South's Kassidy Johnson, who won three events in Class
5A a year ago.
In fact, Johnson is part of one of the division's most compelling
matchups. She won the 400, 800 and 1600 meter runs in Class 5A, but with her
school now in the 4A division, she will go toe-to-toe with Girard standout
Cailie Logue (pictured at left).
Logue, who is headed to Iowa State University next year, won
the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter events last year, all in record times. Last fall,
she became just the seventh Kansas runner ever to win four state cross country
titles. She has a chance to become a four-time winner in the 3200 meters this
In case you need any more drama in the distance events, Johnson's teammates -- junior Destini Eskridge and senior Sierra Mortensen -- were part of the school's cross country state championship team; and Clearwater freshman Aimee Davis is a young lion who placed second to Logue in the cross country championships.
McPherson junior Elle Barret is back to defend her state
titles in the triple jump and long jump, and junior teammate Mandi Cooks is the
defending champ in the high jump.
Sumner Academy senior Demitra Carter also is the defending
champion in two events - the 200 meter dash and the 300 meter hurdles.
Andale state champion pole vaulter Jewell Eck is back. Last
year, she won the title with a clearance of 11-6, though at the regional meet a
week earlier, she cleared 12-9 - eight inches higher than the state record.
Eck's quest to repeat and possibly break the record makes for great drama for
track and field fans.
Other defending champions returning this year in Class 4A
girls include Chapman junior Ninti Little (100); El Dorado senior Sidney Howland (400); and Andover Central senior Jewell Bolden (100 hurdlesm, pictured at right).
Baldwin, the 2016 team champion, was hit heavy by
graduation, opening the door for last year's two closest pursuers - Andale and
Andover Central. Those two squads are now the senior-heavy teams with the inside
track on the state team title.
While Eck heads up Andale's chances, the squad certainly has
depth. Junior Abby Smarsh has the division's top time in the 300 hurdles and is
also a contender in the 100 hurdles. Triple jumper Madison Lies, a sophomore, and
high jumper Morgan Walther, a senior, are medal contenders in their events.
Senior Julie Archer and junior Katy Commons are two of the
best javelin throwers in Class 4A.
Andover Central's strengths are also in the hurdles and
field events, with Bolden the favorite in the 100 hurdles and senior Lindsay Stinson a contender in both hurdling events. Bolden is also a standout long
jumper, where teammates Hannah Cole, a senior, and Peyton Vincze, a sophomore,
are medal contenders. Bolden should score points in both the 100- and 200-meter
Other teams likely to make a strong push for the girls 4A
crown are Paola, Maize South and McPherson. Paola junior Bea Pomatto has the
division's best mark in the discus, and second best in the javelin, while
junior teammate Alexis Kuehl has the preseason best in the javelin. High jumper
Morea Long, a Paola junior, has a chance to unseat McPherson's Cooks for the
Defending champion Bishop Miege appears to be a strong
favorite to repeat in Class 4A boys. Senior sprinter Jafar Armstrong is the man
to beat in the 100 and 200 meter dashes (he won both of those events last year),
and senior teammate Jaden Johnson will likely be right on his heels in both of
those events. Senior Landry Weber has the top returning time in the 400.
Andale, which had won three straight team titles before last
year, has the depth to get the title back. Senior javelin thrower Davon Spexarth is the top returner in that event, while seniors Tristen Dagenais
(high jump and triple jump) and Zach Meyer (pole vault) should score big points
at state. Senior Gabe Kuhn is a title contender in the 400 meter run.
Teams with a shot at catching those two include Field
Kindley, Pratt, Buhler and Spring Hill.
Field Kindley senior Kamaren Wilson is a top five contender
in the long jump, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Pratt's Noah Myers, a senior,
has the division's best mark in the long jump and senior teammate Hunter Kaufman is the preseason frontrunner in the 200. Pratt senior Bryce Stegman
should score in both hurdling events.
Buhler is powered by sophomore sprinter Jordan Hawkins, and
junior Brendan Webb in the javelin and shot put. Spring Hill senior Dylan Brenneman (pictured at left), who will run at Kansas State University next year, is the defending
champion and record holder in the 3200, and enters the season with the top
times in the 800 and 1600.
Other state champs returning this season include junior
Peyton Lane of Clay Center (pole vault), and senior Eric Scott of
Basehor-Linwood (triple jump).