Last year's high school graduation losses have painted a
whole new picture for Kansas' class 1A track and field teams this year.
Both team champions - South Gray on the boys side and
Centralia on the girls - have bid farewell to key seniors, opening the door to
a handful of teams to chase their own state championship dreams.
South Gray, in particular, seems to have come back to the
pack. Last year, the Rebels scored 93 points to win the 1A boys state title by
a whopping 28 points over Olpe (which is now a 2A school), but key losses give several teams a shot at
taking the title away from South Gray this year.
Among those teams are Pike Valley, which returns senior Lane Peters, who won the 100 and 200 meter state titles a year ago. Fellow senior
Cole Strickler was a top six finisher in both of those events, and both Peters
and Strickler are among the state's best long jumpers in class 1A.
Add distance standout Anton Reeves, also a senior, to that
duo, and Pike Valley appears to be the team best positioned to dethrone South
Gray this season.
South Gray certainly won't go easy. Senior Gilbert Peters is
the defending state champion in the shot put and discus, while senior Craig Griebel is a top three contender in the 100, 200 and 400. Brock Davis of South
Gray, a senior, is another seasoned competitor at state and is likely to score
top three points in the javelin and 400.
Two teams that enter the season with a reasonable shot at
the boys 1A team title are Beloit-St. Johns and Centralia.
St. Johns won the 1A cross country title last fall, and as
expected, will be deep in the distances with senior standout David Lutgen
(top-ranked in the 1600 and 3200), as well as senior Adam Bates and sophomore
Brandon Bates. Lutgen, a Kansas State University signee, was the class 1A cross
country state champion last Fall.
Centralia senior Dylan Boeckman is the defending state
champion in the 300 hurdles and pole vault, and begins the 2018 season as the
man to beat in class 1A. Fellow senior Josh Hasenkamp is a pre-season favorite
to win the class 1A javelin, and is a top four contender in the pole vault.
Junior Daegan Steinlage is a state title contender in the discus.
Centralia's girls won the class 1A title a year ago in a
battle with Hanover that came down to the last event. Centralia scored 47.5
points to win by 1.5 points.
They'll have a couple of past state champs to help them in a
bid to repeat as team champs. Junior Madison Lueger won the javelin last year,
while junior Breanna Schmitz was the state champ in the pole vault in 2016 and
runner-up last year.
The Panthers also return a pair of solid sprinters in
sophomore Morgan Kramer (100 and 200) and junior Maegan Koch (400).
But watch out for Sylvan-Lucas and Lakeside in the girls 1A
chase. Sylvan-Lucas will be in contention late into the second day of the state
meet largely because of two athletes - sophomore Autumn Princ and senior Logan Batchman.
Princ is 2-for-2 at the state cross country championships,
halfway to becoming just the ninth four-time state cross country champ in
Kansas. She's pretty good on the track, too, having won the 1600 and 3200 at
last year's championships as a freshman. She could win the 800 as well this
year, giving her team 30 points.
Batchman is a top three contender in both the discus and
shot put - and could win both. She and Princ could be all Sylvan-Lucas
scores...and it could be enough.
Lakeside is a bit more balanced, but they do have their
stars, as well. Senior Rachel Miller is the defending state champion in the 100
hurdles, as well as a top-four contender in the 100 and 200 meters this year.
Senior Bay Lee Brummet could win three events - she's ranked in the top two heading
into this season in the shot put, javelin and discus.
A darkhorse at this point in the class 1A girls chase is
South Gray, led by senior sprint standout Emily Salmans.
Class 1A Girls returning state champions
100 hurdles - Rachel Miller, Lakeside
300 hurdles - Paige Baird, Northern Valley
400 - Baird, Northern Valley
800 - Claire Zarybnicky, Hanover
1600 - Autumn Princ, Sylvan-Lucas
3200 - Princ, Sylvan-Lucas
High jump - Shelby Ohlde, Linn
Pole vault - Avery Gates, Beloit-St. Johns
Triple jump - Brianna Vogts, Olpe
Javelin - Madison Lueger, Centralia
Class 1A Boys returning state champions
100 - Lane Peters, Pike Valley
200 - Peters, Pike Valley
300 hurdles - Dylan Boeckman, Centralia
400 - Collin Kisner, Victoria
Pole vault - Boeckman, Centralia
Shot put - Gilbert Peters, South Gray
Discus - Peters, South Gray