Kansas athletes punch their tickets to state

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Twenty-four regional meets are in the books, and more than 2,000 Kansas track and field athletes have punched their tickets to state. Let the fun begin.


There were very few surprises as regionals wrapped up across the state on Friday. Many of the stars of Kansas track and field -- names you likely already know -- are heading to Wichita for the country's largest two-day high school track and field championship.


Two of Kansas' brightest even solidified their spot at the top of the national rankings. That would be Olathe North's Dana Baker and Manhattan's Sam Hankins.


They both throw the javelin a very, very long ways. Baker took over the No. 1 spot in the United States when she let loose with a throw of 175-6 to win the regional title. Baker, in fact, won three regional titles, also winning the shot put and discus.


Hankins won his regional with an 8 foot personal best, throwing the javelin 220-9. He was already No. 3 in the United States, but moved within an inch of the No. 2 throw in the country. Hankins won the class 6A state title in the event as a freshman with the last throw of the competition last year, and will go for a repeat win this week.


One team that qualified in droves and perhaps greatly increased its chances at a state team title is Lawrence. Junior Evann Seratte led the parade of state qualifiers by winning two individuals events and running the anchor leg on two winning relays.


Seratte was impressive in winning a pair of finish line battles, beating Shawnee Mission West freshman Jasmine Patterson in the 400 meter run, and Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Molly Born in the 800. Seratte's times were 58.05 and 2:22.29. She anchored Lawrence's winning 4 x 400 and 4 X 800 meter relays.


For the first time in her career, Born will run three events at the Kansas track and field championships. She previously won 1600 and 3200 state titles in 2015 and 2016, but missed last year due to injury. She is back this year, and will try for three state titles. Born, now a senior, has won four state track and field titles, and two cross country titles during her high school career.


Katie Kasunic of Shawnee Mission North beat Born in both the 1600 and 3200 in an impressive double win. She's certainly a runner to look for in those two events.


Several athletes won three events this weekend, including:


* Manhattan's Clara Mayfield pulled off the distance triple, winning the 800, 1600 and 3200 at the class 6A Lawrence Free State regional. Mayfield was the state runner-up at the state cross country championships in the fall.


* Blue Valley North's Sophie Scott also won the 800, 1600 and 3200 at the class 6A Blue Valley regional. Scott was the runner-up in the 1600 and state champion in the 800 at last year's state meet.


* Ditto for Pittsburg's McKenzie Wilks at the class 5A Pittsburg regional. She very well could duplicate those wins in the 5A state meet this week.


* Newton's Maggie Remsberg won the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and the long jump at the class 5A Emporia regional. She will likely score at state in all three events, and will be a key cog in Newton's quest to repeat as 5A state champions.


* Shawnee Heights' Michael Hoffer not only won three events, he put up dominating marks in all three. He won the high jump with a leap of 7-0, the long jump at 23-11.25, and the triple jump with a mark of 47-1.5. He's No. 1 in class 5A in all three of those events, and it would be an upset if he were not to win all three at this week's state meet.


 Newton set itself up well for its repeat bid. Superstar sprinters Kalli Anderson and Savannah Simmons posted 1-2 finishes in the 100 and 200. Anderson won in 11.92 and 25.47, while Simmons was second in 12.03 and 25.63. Both also ran a leg on the winning 4 X 100 relay team, and Newton also won the 4 X 400 relay and 4 X 800 relays.


Taylor Antonovich of Newton won the 400 in 59.47 and Savannah Garcia won the triple jump at 34-11.5.


Paola pole vaulter Samantha Vanhoecke moved to No. 11 in the United State when she won the regional title with a vault of 13-3. And Olathe Northwest's Jaleesa McWashington flew 39-7 to win the triple jump at her regional meet, moving to No. 36 in the United States rankings. McWashington also won the long jump.


Pittsburg's girls took over the top spot in Kansas track and field, winning the 4 X 400 relay at regionals in a time of 4:00.46. The No. 1 spot in Kansas also went down on the boys' side when Arkansas City won the 4 X 400 in 3:21.72.


In addition to Manhattan's Hankins, a few other Kansas boys put up state-best marks while winning regional titles. They include Shawnee Mission Northwest's Hayden Goodpaster in the 400 (48.28), Shawnee Mission West's Reggie Edwards in the triple jump (47-7.5, No. 68 in the U.S. rankings) and Hillsboro's Wesley Shaw in the shot put (60-0, good for No. 52 in the U.S. rankings).


The top times by class took a pretty good hit during regionals week, too. There were 22 new marks posted in the boys' class rankings, and 25 more in the girls' class rankings. The girls class 4A rankings had the most events go down, as seven state-leading marks were set.


Chapman freshman Taylor Briggs got two new class 4A leading marks, winning the 1600 (5:19.03) and 3200 (11:15.55). She will go for a distance running triple crown at this year's 4A state track and field meet, having already won the 4A cross country state title last fall.


Paola's Elizabeth Pomatto took over the top spot in the class 4A javelin, posting a mark of 156-11 that is second in Kansas only to Olathe North's Baker. In most years, that would be the top throw in Kansas.


Possibly the best javelin battle this past week took place between teammates. Andale's Katelyn Fairchild won the regional title with a throw of 149-6 while teammate Katy Commons was second at 142-8. The pair also finished 1-2 in the shot put -- Fairchild threw 38-0 to Commons' 37-0.5.


Sprint star Ollie McGee of Wichita Southeast -- who has clearly been the fastest boy in Kansas up to this point -- won the 100 at the class 6A Lawrence Free State regional in 10.73, but then was beaten by Manhattan's Clyde King, Jr. in the 200. King's time was 21.61 to McGee's 21.63. King later also won the 400, where he is the No. 2 ranked runner in class 6A this season.


The powerful Bishop Carroll boys' track and field team is well-positioned to put on a show at this year's 5A track and field state meet. The squad scored 227 points to win the regional title by nearly 130 points. In one of the finest races of that meet, Bishop Carroll's Jason Irwin won the 1600 in 4:21.97, edging Great Bend's Kerby Depenbusch, who finished in 4:22.29.


There were some surprises of the weekend, perhaps most notably in the class 4A Andale regional where Jordan Hawkins of Buhler -- the defending state champion in the 100 and 200 meter runs -- failed to qualify for this year's state championships. Hawkins had only been running the 100 this year, perhaps slowed by injury, but finished fifth at regionals. If there's any consolation, it's that he's a junior and could return with a chip on his shoulder next year. And Buhler is still loaded for its shot at winning the class 4A team title.


Junction City's Lyric Holman failed to qualify for state in the 100 and 200 meter runs, two events in which she scored important points for the Bluejays last year. It probably is a lethal blow to Junction City's bid to repeat as class 6A girls team champions.


Bryce Merriman of Maize South failed to qualify in the 1600, while Bishop Carroll did lose two potential point scorers in Joseph Rohleder (high jump) and Thomas Helten (long jump).


Results of all 24 regional meets is available from Kansas MileSplit.


Also, look for previews for each class heading into the Kansas track and field state championships beginning Monday through Wednesday of this week.


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