The clock or measuring tape tells the truth pretty much all of the time.
It's one of the purities of the sport, the fact that each individual athlete is putting their heart out there every time for the world to see.
So, as I look at putting together the 2018 All State teams for Kansas Track and Field, I have to look at the season's final rankings for guidance. Plain and simple, if you had the fastest time or height or distance in your event, you can rightfully claim your place as Kansas' best in 2018.
With that as a measuring stick, I will be announcing Kansas MileSplit's All-State teams for girls and boys today and tomorrow. We will start with the ladies first...
In 2018, Kansas' girls included dominant distance running, a nationally-ranked shot put and discus thrower, a thrilling sprint rivalry, and the No. 1 ranked javelin thrower in the United States.
Sorting out the best of the best is no easy task, for sure. But here goes...
Kansas Girls All-State Track and Field
My comments: The toughest category to pick was the hurdles, where it seemed like a lot of athletes were pretty good in one of the hurdling events or the other - but not both. I went with those who I thought were the best all-around hurdlers. The other categories are pretty straight forward. Lister and Anderson are by far the state's best female sprinters; Mosely is probably the most college-ready sprinter of the bunch. Moore, a St. James sophomore, won the class 5A 400 and was just barely beat in the 800 - she's headed for stardom in our state. Pomatto's season-best of 156-11 in the javelin would have been dominating in just about every year not including Dana Baker.
If I Could Pick 5 Athletes to Start a Team, I'd Take...
Aarika Lister, Leavenworth - She can just flat-out fly, and she's the most scary sprinter on the track when she's healthy. A leg injury prevented her from winning the 200 at state, but she'll have plenty of time to flash her speed at the next level.
Christal Mosley, Wichita Southeast - Perhaps the prettiest stride on the track during the 2018 state championships. Mosely makes 55 seconds in the 400 look easy, and the 54.26 she ran in the prelims at state broke a 38-year-old, all-class record. She has huge potential to shine at the highest level in college.
McKenzie Wilks, Pittsburg - You're not surprised by this pick if you saw what she did at the state championships this year. It wasn't just that she won the 800, 1600 and 3200 -- it was how she did it. First, she dominated the 3200 Friday morning, then came back in the heat on Saturday to make a good 1600 field look pedestrian, and then ran down St. James Academy's Katie Moore in the final stretch of the 800.
Sydney Johnson, Beloit - Her improvement over the past year or so has been remarkable. She's a legit college thrower in the discus and shot put. Her season-best of 156-8 in the discus is No. 23 in the United States currently, and her mark of 44-10 in the shot put is No. 76 in the country.
Katie Moore, St. James Academy - Her turnover in the 400 and 800 is just incredibly quick and she runs with a fiery mentality. She could probably even be stretched to run a pretty good 1600, where she'd quickly be a force. Not to mention her value in the 4 X 400 and 4 X 800 relays.
Kansas Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year
Dana Baker, Olathe North. To me, it's not even close. When you break an all-class state record by more than 6 feet, and rise to the No. 1 ranking in the United States, you are a bona fide stud in this sport.
Baker also won the javelin title at the USA Track and Field Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships, earning her a spot on Team USA for the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Finland later this summer.
She earned her spot on the national junior team with a career-best throw of 178-1. It was nearly 10 feet further than the 168-8 she threw to win the class 6A state title in late May, a mark that stands as the all-class Kansas state record.
Baker also competed against many of the country's top professional and collegiate throwers at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend, placing 13th. She is headed to Duke University next year where she will already be among the best throwers in the NCAA Division I ranks.
I had the opportunity to interview Baker after the Seaman Invitational a little more than a year ago. She struck me as humble, unassuming, and holding her enormous success in perspective. She's the kind of athlete that you feel really good cheering for, whether you're a fan of her school or not.