This is also a meet that is, by far, much tougher than the
state meet in any of the state's classifications. And some could argue it could
out-do many of the post-season regional track and field meets that take place
in June and July.
In case you're not yet impressed, Rock Chalk Park boasts
just one of five tracks in the United States that are Class 1 Certified by the
International Association of Athletics Federations. Rock Chalk Park hosted the
NCAA Division I West Regionals last May, and will host the Big 12 championships
in a little less than a month.
It all comes together to offer a great chance for Kansas high
school athletes to put up season- or career-best marks this week.
That said, the athletes themselves provide the greatest key
of all: competition. Of the 18 championship events competed in Kansas, the boys
have 11 state leaders and the girls have 9 that are competing at the Kansas
The distance events feature national-caliber runners. Kyler True of Olpe, who will run for Oklahoma State University next year, is among
the nation's best in the 800 meters. He has a career-best of 1:49.87 and is the
pre-meet favorite to win that event.
True will also run the 1600 meters, an event in which he has
the state's best time of 4:22.98 this season. (UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 18, True dropped that state-best time to 4:12.52 to win at the Waverly Gene Farrow Invitational.)
The girls 3200 meter run on Friday is dripping with
anticipation with a monster matchup on tap between Girard's Cailie Logue, Shawnee
Mission Northwest's Molly Born, and Lawrence Free State's Emily Venters.
That trio has combined for 12 state championships on the
track the past three seasons, and are the top three seeds into the Kansas
Relays. They last met at the Nike Heartland Regional Championships last
November where they were putting up a 1-2-3 finish until the last 100 meters
when Logue became ill and struggled to finish.
Logue is now back and the head-to-head-to-head battle that
Kansas distance running fans relish is just hours away.
One who could spoil the party is Elizabeth Reneau of Liberty
Christian in Argyle, Texas, a seven-time state champion in the Texas
Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
The girls 1600 includes Born, Venters and Manhattan's Cara Melgares, three of the top four finishers in Class 6A last year, while Logue
has opted out of that event this week. Joy Ripslinger of Assumption High School
in Davenport, Iowa will be among the pre-race favorites.
Here are some of the other events and key Kansas athletes
we're watching closely this week:
100m -Two-time Class 5A champ Aarika Lister of Leavenworth ran 11.72 to win the
Kansas Relays last year. The state's
best mark this year is 11.76 by Newton's Kalli Anderson, who is not entered in
the Relays. Leavenworth's Clifford Robinson (season best 10.78) and
Gardener-Edgerton's Matt Summerlin (10.71) could contend in the boys' race.
400m - Olathe
South's Cameron Waldo is the state leader with a time of 48.95.
800m - Four of the
state's top six girls are entered, including Lansing's Victoria Robinson
(2:15), Maize South's Kassidy Johnson (2:18), Blue Valley North's Sophie Scott
(2:20), and Lawrence's Evann Seratte (2:22).
In addition to Olpe's True, the boys' 800 features
Pittsburg's Connar Southard (1:56), Blue Valley Southwest's Andrew Lawrence
(1:56) and St. Thomas Aquinas' Alex Gill (1:57).
Hurdles - Kansas
has one of the country's best in St. Thomas Aquinas' Noah Green. He comes into
the week with the state's best times in the 110 hurdles (14.10, No. 18 in the United States) and 300 hurdles
(37.45, No.19 in the U.S.) and could win both. Two to watch in the girls' 100 hurdles are Jewell Bolden of Andover Central (the defending state champ in Class 4A) and Autumn
Hanna of Maize (second in Class 5A).
Throws -- Konner Swenson of Maize is the headliner
for Kansas boys. He's the state leader in both the discus (198-9.75, No. 10 in the United States) and shot
put (56-5.25), well ahead of Kansas competition so far this year. Alyssa Miller
of Hill City has also been dominant this season; she's the state leader with a
throw of 153-9 in the discus. Also look for shot putters Gabby Hopkins of Mill
Valley (second in Class 5A last year) and Sydney Johnson of Beloit (third in
In the boys' javelin, Kansas' top contenders entered are
Hunter Krom of Lawrence (184-4) and Noah Simbeck of Shawnee Mission Northwest
(184-2). The girls' javelin features Class 6A state champ Dana Baker of Olathe
North (159-4, No. 2 in Kansas), Class 3A state champ Kourtni Hubert of Beloit
(148-0), and Class 2A runner-up Bailee Swift of Chase County.
Jumps - Kansas is
loaded in this area with state long jump leaders Michael Hoffer of Shawnee
Heights (23-1.5) and Jewell Bolden of Andover Central (19-4) set to compete.
Jessie Stindt of Shawnee Mission East is the state leader in the triple jump
(38-3.5), and Maddi Righter of Olathe Northwest tops all state high jumpers at
5-9 for the season.
Also look for Bailey Turner of Olathe East (38-2.5) and
Class 2A state champ Kayla Smith of Valley Heights (38-1.5) in the triple jump;
and high jumpers Hoffer (6-8), Jerrod Hoover of Washington (6-8), Richard Newman of Topeka (6-6) and Tom Haug of Manhattan (6-6).
Pole Vault -
Rachel Mayberry of Olathe Northwest is the state leader, clearing 12-0 this
season. This event is loaded with Kansas talent, however, with Class 6A
runner-up Natalie Lanman of Shawnee Mission North (11-9) - who is unbeaten this
season - as well as Class 4A state champ Jewel Eck of Andale (12-9 career
best), and Shawnee Mission North's Abigail Kelly-Salo (11-9), who was third in
Class 6A a year ago.
Relays - State
leaders St. Thomas Aquinas boys (4 X 400) and Maize South's boys (4 X 800) are
both entered this week. Olathe Northwest's girls (No. 3) and Olathe South's girls (No. 4) are the top in-state schools in the 4 X 100 relay. In the 4 X 1 Mile
relay, St. Thomas Aquinas' boys are the top seed and Olathe East is the third
seed in an interesting battle that pits the Class 5A cross country state champs
(Aquinas) against the Class 6A state cross country champs. Manhattan's girls
are the top-seeded Kansas school in the 4 X 1 Mile relay, sitting at No. 3
For a complete schedule of the events at the Kansas Relays,
go to www.KansasRelays.com.