You may not have been paying much attention, but that little
rumble you heard late last summer was more of a grumble coming from Blue Valley
Southwest High School.
Or, maybe - probably? - it was a loud shout of joy coming
from Kansas City area rival St. Thomas Aquinas.
Nationally-ranked hurdle standout Noah Green (pictured at right) switched
schools this past year, leaving Blue Valley Southwest and joining the defending
5A state champion Saints. It was a fortunate move for St. Thomas Aquinas, and
one that gives a huge boost to their bid to repeat as state champs.
Green, a junior, was the Kansas 5A champion in the 110 meter
hurdles and the 300 meter hurdles last year for Blue Valley Southwest. He
placed fifth in the long jump, accounting for 24 points at the state meet.
During the recent indoor season, he clocked 48.84 in the 400
meters, which puts him among the best in the state already in that event.
It's a stretch to say Green could pull off those four events
at the state meet, but even if he competes in three and with Aquinas' dominance
in the distance events, the Saints are undoubtedly the team favorite heading
into the 2017 season.
Aquinas seniors Will Cole and Alex Gill finished 1-2 in the
state cross country championships, and they are the odds-on favorites to do
that in the 3200, and possibly also in the 1600. Cole is the defending state
champ in the 3200, and Gill should also score state points in the 800. Aquinas is typically the team to watch in the 4 X 800 relay, as well.
Even so, Class 5A boys is a division loaded with teams that
have key, experienced returners capable of knocking off St. Thomas Aquinas.
Liberal may have the best chance of doing just that. The
Redskins are led by senior Austin Mullins, the defending state champion in the
400 who is also a top three contender in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Junior
teammate Dusty Torres has the state's top preseason time in the 200, and is
also a top three contender in the 100 and 400.
Newton has good depth in the field events and on the track.
Look for them to score points with seniors Kade Remsberg (100 and 200), Kelby Lawrence (110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), and Aiden Mills
(shot put and discus).
Shawnee Heights, the 2015 state champs, is still strong. They
have a pair of returning state champions in juniors Hunter Henderson (1600) and
Michael Hoffer (high jump), but the Thunderbirds should also score big points
with Hoffer (long jump and triple jump); junior Cade Holmes (discus and shot
put) and seniors Colton Oshel and Wyatt Hubert (javelin).
Perennial contenders Leavenworth and Blue Valley Southwest
have taken a hit to their depth, but they are still very strong and can't be
Leavenworth senior Arik Parker is a force in the shot put
and discus, and sprinters Anthony Gould, a sophomore, and Clifford Robinson, a
senior, likely will score well in the 100 and 200. Blue Valley Southwest senior
Konrad Marshall has the top time in the 100 entering the season, and is a top 3
contender in the 200, while distance runners Andrew Lawrence, a sophomore, and
junior Dylan Miller will pick up points in those events, as well.
The other returning state champion in Class 5A boys is
senior Connar Southard of Pittsburg (800).
If you feel the need for speed, the Class 5A girls state
meet will satisfy that desire. All eight finalists in last year's 200 meter
dash - and 7 of 8 in the 100 - return for the 2017 season.
Defending champion Newton brings back an all-star cast of
sprinters that has firmly placed the squad as preseason favorites for the state
Sophomore Kalli Anderson, junior Savannah Simmons and senior
Jen Andres are all top five contenders in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Junior
Taylor Antonowich is one of the division's best in the 400. And, Newton smoked
the field in the 4 X 100 and 4 X 400 relays last year.
That star power alone could be worth as much as 60 points or
more at the state meet.
But Newton also has strength in the field events, with
seniors Kailey Harris (triple jump and long jump), Nicole Engelken (javelin),
Brooke Lachenmayer (shot put) and Katie Reed (discus).
Mill Valley, Pittsburg, Valley Center and Emporia may have
the best chance to dethrone Newton this year.
Mill Valley senior Megan Eckman is the defending state
champion in the high jump. The Jaguars also have a powerful distance duo in
sophomore Delaney Kemp and junior Britton Nelson; and standout throwers in
seniors Gabby Hopkins (shot put and discus) and Morgan Thomas (javelin). Thomas
is also a standout high jumper and a medal contender in the triple jump.
Pittsburg senior Taylor Muff is the defending state champion
in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, as well as one of the division's best in
the discus. Juniors McKenzie Wilks and Abbie Casper are top five contenders in
the 800 meter run, and senior Daeshia Turner could win the triple jump.
Valley Center's big points should come from senior Taylor Latimer in the discus (where she is the defending state champ), shot put and
javelin. Emporia's chances hinge on the field events with seniors Jennica Smith
(javelin), Mikayla Simons (shot put), Kelsey Gordon (triple jump); juniors
Olivia Young (high jump) and Devan Crow (pole vault); and sophomore Beth Schwerdtfeger (long jump). Junior Linnea Meier and sophomore Alexis Davies are
also top 5 contenders in the 400.
Leavenworth junior Aarika Lister is the defending state champion
in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. She was the only female sprinter to run under
12 seconds for the 100 meters at last year's state meet.
The other returning state champion this year is Goddard
senior pole vaulter Hannah Buller.