CLASS 6A STATE PREVIEW: Lots of Room for New State Champions

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Somebody must have hit a reset button on class 6A track and field in Kansas.


The slate is mostly clean of returning state champions, as just six of the 36 champions from last year's meet are expected to compete. And last year's team champions - Olathe East girls and Shawnee Mission North boys - are not among the pre-meet contenders for this year's team crowns.

 

That means there could be a lot of first time champs in this year's 6A meet.

 

Pre-meet favorites

Boys - Topeka, Shawnee Mission Northwest, Olathe South

Girls - Junction City, Olathe Northwest, Hutchinson

 

Events that I'm excited to see

Girls 400. Defending state champion Yazmine Wright of Hutchinson and Christal Mosley of Wichita Southeast have matched up twice in the last three weeks, and each won once by fractions of a second. They hold the No. 1 and No. 2 times in Kansas this year; Mosley won the region 2 meet last week with a state-best and career-best 55.48. These two bring out the best in each other; expect a photo finish, possibly including Lawrence's Evann Seratte.

 

Boys and Girls Javelin - Class 6A has a pair of nationally-ranked javelin throwers. Olathe North's Dana Baker is No. 2 in the United States with a season-best 164-2 - about two feet better than the current 6A state record. Manhattan's Sam Hankins is at No. 10 in the country with a season best of 205-11. He's thrown further than the state's second best mark each of the past two weeks.

 

Boys high jump - Richard Newman of Topeka narrowly missed clearing 7-0 at the Centennial League championships two weeks ago. On back-to-back weeks, he's cleared 6-11 and 6-10. I'm counting on the adrenalin of the state meet crowd to get him over 7-0 this week. In case you're wondering, the state record is 7-3, set in 1995 by Jason Archibald of Garden City.

 

Girls hurdles. Junction City sophomore Kiena Newman is a star in the making, dominating the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles throughout this season. She's got the No. 1 ranking in 6A in both of those events; now the only thing missing from her stellar resume is the state titles. The field is solid, so she'll definitely be challenged this week.

 

Boys 4 X 100 relay - Topeka High held the state's fastest time (42.32) before class 5A Leavenworth passed them recently. But they've still got a mighty challenge to hold off Olathe South, Blue Valley North, Hutchinson, Shawnee Mission North and Wichita East - 6A teams that have run 42.80 or better this season. Each baton exchange will be crucial.

 

Returning state champions (with current grade level)

 

Girls

400 - Yazmine Wright, Hutchinson

1600 - Molly Born, Shawnee Mission Northwest*

3200 - Molly Born, Shawnee Mission Northwest*

High jump - Brittan Richey, Wichita East

Triple jump - Jessie Stindt, Shawnee Mission East

Javelin - Dana Baker, Olathe North

 

* Born did not qualify from regionals due to injury

 

Boys

400 - Cameron Waldo, Olathe South

110 hurdles - Martavius Johnson, Hutchinson

 

2016 Team Champions

Boys - Shawnee Mission North

Girls - Olathe East

 

My prediction

I've seen Topeka High compete a lot this season, and they're every bit as good as they look on paper. They have the speed to light up that 4 X 100, and their sprint crew will score in the 100 and 200. Richard Newman is a legit contender to win the high jump and the long jump.

 

But in what will likely be a tight battle with Shawnee Mission Northwest, Topeka's margin for error is a little bit smaller. Shawnee Mission Northwest spreads their points among more events, which means they have slightly less chance to be hurt by 1 or 2 sub-par performances. For that reason alone, I will lean toward Shawnee Mission Northwest as my pre-meet pick.

 

I will, however, stick with the Centennial League for the girls' champion. Junction City's sprinters will get the job done - I especially like how they run that 4 X 400 - and the Blue Jays will win the girls' track and field championship for the first time since 1993.


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