CLASS 5A STATE PREVIEW: Aquinas Boys, Newton Girls are Heavy Favorites for Team Titles

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The class 5A Kansas Track and Field championships are defined largely by its dominant teams.


St. Thomas Aquinas is the defending champion in the boys division, and is a heavy favorite to win again this year. That's a significant statement, considering that Leavenworth and Liberal have powerful boys' teams, as well.

 

Newton's girls, also the defending champs, are electric in the sprints and relays, but Pittsburg and St. James Academy are strong enough to keep the team chase interesting.

 

It leaves the rest of class 5A grasping for individual titles. Leavenworth star sprinter Aarika Lister, 2016 champion in the 100 and 200, is back after nursing injuries for much of the season. She won the 100 meters at the region 8 meet, but finished second to Sumner Academy standout Demitra Carter in the 200. Carter has moved up from 4A, where she won the 300 hurdles title last year.

 

Pre-meet favorites

Boys - St. Thomas Aquinas

Girls - Newton, Pittsburg, St. James Academy

 

Events that I'm excited to see

Girls 300 hurdles. Taylor Muff of Pittsburg has dominated class 5A, but now she goes up against another superstar - Demitra Carter of Sumner Academy, who won the 4A state title in the event last year. Muff has a season best of 46.50, while Carter's best this year is 47.35, though both have run low to mid-45's at state in past years. Carter was a regional champion in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, and 200; and runner-up in the 100.

 

Boys 400 meters. Teammates Dusty Torres and Austin Mullins of Liberal head the field, but we could see as many as six class 5A athletes break 50 seconds in the finals.

 

Boys 4 X 800 meter relay. Pittsburg leads class 5A with a time of 8:05.90, but Blue Valley Southwest, Mill Valley and St. Thomas Aquinas have run 8:07 to 8:08 this season. This is eight laps of dig-down-to-your-toenails racing.

 

Boys javelin. Five guys have thrown between 190 and 195 feet this season, so there should be a lot of drama well into the finals of this event.

 

Girls 100 and 200. These two events will pit last year's state champ - Leavenworth's Aarika Lister - against a duo that has dominated Kansas girls sprints this year - Newton's Kalli Anderson and Savannah Simmons. Add in Sumner Academy's Carter and the class 5A records in the 100 (11.90) and 200 (24.32) are in jeopardy.

 

Returning state champions (with current grade level)

 

Girls*

100 - Aarika Lister, Leavenworth

200 - Aarika Lister, Leavenworth

100 hurdles - Taylor Muff, Pittsburg

300 hurdles - Taylor Muff, Pittsburg

300 hurdles -- Demitra Carter, Sumner Academy (4A)

Discus - Taylor Latimer, Valley Center

High jump - Megan Eckman, Mill Valley

Pole vault - Hannah Buller, Goddard

 

* Kassidy Johnson of Maize South won the 400, 800 and 1600 in 2016, but is now competing in class 4A

 

Boys

200 - Dusty Torres, Liberal

400 - Austin Mullins, Liberal

800 - Connar Southard, Pittsburg

1600 - Hunter Henderson, Shawnee Heights

3200 - Will Cole, St. Thomas Aquinas

100 hurdles - Noah Green, St. Thomas Aquinas

300 hurdles -- Noah Green, St. Thomas Aquinas

High jump - Michael Hoffer, Shawnee Heights

 

2016 Team Champions

Boys - St. Thomas Aquinas

Girls - Newton

 

My prediction

How many ways can I say repeat? Well, possibly two ways, as in St. Thomas Aquinas Repeat, and Newton Repeat.

 

In normal years, Leavenworth and Liberal would be strong contenders for the boys championship - and I suppose St. Thomas Aquinas could have a very bad weekend, but I don't see that happening with the Saints' loaded roster. That said, Leavenworth and Liberal are pretty exciting to watch and they will heighten the fan experience at state this year.

 

Newton's girls have dominated in the sprints and relays all season long, and they're good enough to do it at state, as well. Anderson and Simmons placed second and third in the 100 and 200 last year, and if Leavenworth's Lister isn't fully recovered from her early-season injuries, those two could sweep the two sprints. It's hard to see Newton losing either the 4 X 100 or 4 X 400 relays, and sophomore Maggie Remsberg could beat Pittsburg's Muff and Sumner Academy's Carter in either or both hurdle events.


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