Logue, Baker win USATF National Titles

Former Girard High School standout and 13-time Kansas state champion Cailie Logue won two national titles in about a 20-hour stretch, highlighting a strong week for track and field athletes with Kansas connections.

Olathe North senior Dana Baker, a two-time state champion in the javelin who is headed for Duke University in the Fall, was also crowned a national champion at the USA Track and Field Junior Outdoor Championships in Bloomington, Indiana.


Baker recorded a career-best throw of 178-1 to place first and earn a spot for Team USA at the World Junior Outdoor championships in Tampere, Finland in mid-July. The throw is nearly 10 feet further than the 168-8 that Baker recorded in setting the all-time state record in Kansas and winning the class 6A state title three weeks ago.


But it was Logue who was a show-stopper on the track, first winning a dramatic three-way battle in the 5000 meters against two girls she's very familiar with.


Emily Venters, a freshman at Boise State who won five Kansas state titles for Lawrence Free State, placed second in the 5000, just ahead of Iowa State freshman Amanda Vestri, who is Logue's college teammate and roommate.


The three runners easily pulled away from the field by the first mile, running a solid pace despite hot, humid conditions. Logue built about a seven second advantage with about a half mile to go, and then Vestri took a commanding four-second lead over Venters with one lap remaining.


But with just over 200 to go, Venters begin a wicked charge to the finish, making up the four-second deficit to nip Vestri by about one-half second and earn the second slot on Team USA into the World Junior Championships.


As it turned out, however, Logue later won the 3000 meters, and announced that she would be giving up her spot in the 5000 meters so that Vestri - her college roommate - could go to Finland, as well.


Logue's winning time in the 5000 was 16:15.47, followed by Venters at 16:19.22 and Vestri at 16:19.83. They were more than 40 seconds ahead of the fourth place finisher.


The next day, Logue won another battle, this time against a pair of current high school standouts. Logue finished in 9:34.72 to edge London Culbreath of McKinney North (McKinney, Texas), who was second in 9:36.77, and Katelynne Hart of Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), who was third at 9:37.90.


Sierra Mortensen of Washburn University, a high school standout at Maize South, placed eighth in the women's 3000 with a time of 10:42.44.


The USATF Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships are for athletes under the age of 20, and typically attract many of the country's top college freshmen and high schoolers.


The IAAF World Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held in Tampere, Finland from July 10-15.


Also at the USATF junior championships last weekend:


·      University of Kansas signee Zachary Bradford of Bloomington, Illinois won the national title in the men's pole vault, clearing 18-2 1/2. His future teammate, Kyle Rogers, a freshman at KU this past school year, was fifth with a vault of 16-4 3/4.

·      Wichita State's Taran Taylor launched the javelin 233-2 on his first throw of the competition, and it held up as the winning throw. He'll be joined at the World Junior championships by teammate Rayvon Allen, who leaped 24-10 for second place in the long jump.

·      Also from Wichita State, Ben Flowers was fifth in the 5000 (15:01.69); and Grant Downes was ninth in the decathlon (6422 points).

·      Taylor Latimer of Kansas State placed fifth in the shot put (49-2 1/2) and 14th in the discus (146-8). Latimer was a two-time Kansas discus champion and one-time shot put champion for Valley Center during her prep years.

·      Another Kansas State athlete, Cara Melgares, placed fifth in the 3000 meter steeplechase, battling a tough field and hot conditions to finish in 10:57.35. Melgares was a 15-time state medalist as a prepster for Manhattan.

·      Kyler True, an 11-time Kansas high school state champion for Olpe, placed ninth in the men's 1500 meter run with a time of 3:59.07. True, who ran his freshman season at Oklahoma State University, recently decided to transfer to the University of Kansas, where he will sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules and be eligible to compete for the Jayhawks in the 2019-2020 season.

·      Haven Lander of Pittsburg State cleared 12-3 1/2 to finish 10th in the women's pole vault.

·      Richard Newman of the Northeast Kansas Track Club placed seventh in the men's high jump at 6-8 3/4. Newman was a standout at Topeka High, and most recently competed for Hutchinson Community College this past spring. He was the NJCAA Division I Outdoor national champion in the high jump, clearing a career-best 7-3 in winning the junior college national title.