Kansas Athletes Mow Down State's Top Marks in Week 3

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Through all the spits and spurts of the Kansas weather, the state's track and field athletes have been finding the sweet spot in the schedule and lighting up the rankings lists.


This week witnessed a mighty assault on the state rankings, as more than 60 percent of the state's top marks went down. With snow in the forecast for Friday, many meets moved to Thursday to the benefit of the state's track and field athletes.


None benefitted more than Olathe North's Dana Baker, who is by now is a household name on the Kansas track and field scene. The senior beat her own U.S.-leading mark in the javelin, tossing a career-best 171-5 to win the Olathe Invitational.


Baker already led the U.S. rankings before this week's effort, which was just over three feet better than her previous career best of 169-2 at the American JavFest in East Stroudsburg, Penn. last summer. Baker's throw is nine feet better than the Kansas all-class record of 162-5 set by Keiryn Swenson of Maize in 2015, though she'll have to beat Swenson's mark at the state meet to take over the top spot.


Baker's win highlighted a week in which Kansas athletes notched state-leading marks in 25 of the 36 events for boys and girls. That's a whopping 69.4 percent of the events which have new state leaders after this week's meets.


And the Class 1A through 6A division leaderboards also took a massive hit. In the six boys' divisions for Kansas, there were 63 top marks of 108 total events (58 percent). And the ladies were even meaner -- there were 67 leading marks in the 108 total events for girls (62 percent). Combined, Kansas' track and field athletes took down 130 top marks in the 216 events -- or 60.1 percent.


Shelby Ohlde of Linn -- a class 1A school -- proved she can jump with anyone in Kansas and, for that matter, in the country. She cleared 5-8 to win the Valley Heights Invitational, moving her to No. 1 in Kansas and No. 17 in the United States.


Michael Hoffer of Shawnee Heights posted the 18th best long jump in the nation, winning the Lansing Invitational with a leap of 23-8. McKenzie Wilks of Pittsburg won the 1600 at the Olathe Invitational in a time of 5:01.24, putting her at No. 38 in the U.S. rankings; and Bishop Carroll pole vaulter Ethan Hull moved to No. 80 in the U.S. in winning the Valley Center Invitational with a vault of 15-0.


Blue Valley West notched the nation's 43rd best time in the 4 X 800 when they won that event in 8:03.64 at the Blue Valley Relays.


As a matter of fact, that same meet had seven state-leading marks, including:


* Dylan Miller of Blue Valley Southwest and Sarah Murrow of St. James Academy, who won the 3200 meters in 9:29.05 and 11:11.81, respectively;


* St. James Academy, which won the 4 X 400 and the 4 X 800 in times of 4:06.88 and 9:50.94;


* Cameryn Thomas of Lawrence, who soared to 17-11.5 in the long jump; and


* Jessie Stindt of Shawnee Mission East, who won the triple jump with an effort of 38-9.


Newton's Kalli Anderson got into the act. She lowered her own state-leading mark in the 100, winning in 11.95 at her team's home meet. Then, she anchored Newton's winning 4 X 100 meter team, which won in 48.95.


Emma Ruddle of McPherson also got a state-leading mark as the sophomore outdueled Newton superstar Maggie Remsberg in the 100 hurdles. Ruddle won in 15.28.


Speed was also on full display at the Maize Invitational, where Wichita Southeast's Ollie McGee is now the state's fastest high schooler. He won the 100 meters in 10.71. A week ago, he was edged by one-hundredth of a second by Wichita South's Phillip Landrum, the defending 6A state champion who had the state's top mark of 10.76 before this week.


I'm pretty sure we're going to see a whole lot more speed out of those two guys as this season moves along.


Also at Maize, Wichita East put up the state's top time in the 4 X 100, winning in 42.64.


Four state marks went down at the Valley Center Invitational. In addition to Bishop Carrol's Hull in the pole vault, Tayshian Crough of Hutchinson won the 100 hurdles in 14.69; Abby Smarsh of Andale won the 300 hurdles in 46.41; and Ark City won the 4 X 400 in 3:26.43.


Others putting up state-leading marks this week include:


* Timmy Lambert of Smoky Valley, winning the 300 hurdles in 39.42 at the Marion Relays;


* Mitch Dervin of Mill Valley, who won the 800 in a time of 1:59.03 at the Olathe Invitational;


* Ethan Nunnery of Hays, who won the triple jump with a leap of 47-4 at the Great Bend Horace Goodhawk Invitational;


* Samantha Vanhoecke of Paola, who is the first Kansas female to break 12 foot in the pole vault this year. She cleared 12-1 to win her team's home meet; and


* Sydney Johnson of Beloit, who threw the discus 142-2 to win the Russell Invitational.


Also this week, at the Blue Valley Relays, another athlete made news but not necessarily for notching a top mark, but just simply for running. Shawnee Mission Northwest's Molly Born, a four-time state champion in the 1600 and 3200 who was ranked in the top 10 of the U.S. rankings last year before an injury ended her season in early May, ran the anchor leg of her team's winning distance medley relay.

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