CLASS 2A STATE PREVIEW: Experience Could Lead Valley Heights Girls Right Back to the Top

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There will definitely be a new champion in class 2A boys this year after Olpe was moved to class 1A last fall. While Plainville appears to have a slight upper-hand heading into this year's meet, it's likely to be a tightly-contested team race on the boys side.

This is an experience-laden division with more than half of the individual state champions from last year returning this year. Sophomores Faith Little of Jackson Heights and Kya Johnson of Bennington won state titles in the distance events as freshmen last year.

 

Pre-meet favorites

Boys - Plainville, Stanton County, Washington County

Girls - Kiowa County, Valley Heights

 

Events that I'm excited to see

Anything that Ness City's Chandler Stiawalt competes in! The senior standout won three state titles last year and will go for a sweep again this year. He's ranked No. 1 in the triple jump, but is No. 2 behind Ellis' Trey Hudson in the long jump, and No. 3 in the high jump.

 

A great matchup in the 1600 meter run is on tap between defending champion Faith Little of Jackson Heights, and Bennington's Halle Johnson, who is ranked No. 1 in class 2A this year. I think Valley Height's Samantha Vermetten and Wabaunsee's Madeline Hess also could mix it up with those two in what could be a blanket finish.

 

Speaking of blanket finishes, Brooke Brownlee of Maranatha Academy is the defending champion in the 100, but she's one of five girls in class 2A that have season bests within eight one-hundredths of a second.

 

Three athletes have regularly thrown over 180 feet in the boys javelin. Washington County's Dawson Miller had the best throw in the state of 194-11 until two weeks ago. Jacob Schrick of Jefferson County and Jerrod Hoover of Washington County could make this a back-and-forth battle.

 

And, Hill City's Alyssa Miller is ranked No. 1 among all Kansas discus throwers. Her season-best is 153-9, which is still a little under her all-time best of 158-0.

 

Returning state champions (with current grade level)

 

Girls

100 - Brooke Brownlee, senior, Maranatha Academy

200 -- Brooke Brownlee, senior, Maranatha Academy

800 - Faith Little, sophomore, Jackson Heights

1600 - Faith Little, sophomore, Jackson Heights

3200 - Kya Johnson, sophomore, Bennington

Discus - Alyssa Miller, senior, Hill City

Shot put - Alyssa Miller, senior, Hill City

High jump - Skyler Saunders, junior, Valley Heights

Triple jump - Kayla Smith, junior, Valley Heights

 

Boys

200 - Sam Kaup, senior, Plainville

Discus - Hunter Kier, senior, Washington County

Shot put - Levi Armon, senior, Ness City

Pole vault - Kaden Meitler, senior, Smith Center

High jump - Chandler Stiawalt, senior, Ness City

Long jump - Chandler Stiawalt, senior, Ness City

Triple jump - Chandler Stiawalt, senior, Ness City

 

2016 Team Champions

Boys - Olpe (now in class 1A)

Girls - Valley Heights

 

My prediction

Experience means a lot at state, and Valley Heights has it. And in what will likely be a close team battle with Kiowa County's girls, I think Valley Heights again comes out on top. Defending champions Skyler Saunders (high jump) and Kayla Smith (triple jump) are likely to repeat, and freshman newcomer Samantha Vermetten is a star on the rise in the 400, 800 and 1600 meter runs.

 

The boys' race will be a tussle and I'm inclined to draw from a hat to decide on who's going to emerge between Plainville, Stanton County, Washington County, Smith Center, Yates Center and Sacred Heart. The MileSplit virtual meet of class 2A says Plainville will win, but I'm going against that. I'm going to take Washington County, counting on their top-end strength of potential state champs of Hunter Kier in the discus; Jerrod Hoover in the high jump; and Dawson Miller in the javelin. Washington County could pull a 1-2-3 sweep in the discus.


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