Parity Abounds in Class 6A Track and Field

The powers-that-be at the Kansas State High School Activities Association must smile widely when they take a look at the 6A division of Kansas track and field.

Why, you may ask? Well, you figure that classifications are put in place for the primary reason of creating parity among the state's schools, giving everyone an even chance of winning at the state level.


Perhaps in no other division of Kansas track and field is that more evident than in 6A, and it should play out to the delight of spectators at this year's state championships.


Manhattan's boys and Lawrence's girls are the defending champions, and both appear to have a good chance at a repeat performance.


For starters, Manhattan can pretty much bank 10 points for junior javelin thrower Sam Hankins, a two-time champion who is one of the top 5 throwers in the United States. Hankins won a state title as a freshman on the final throw of the competition, then won a bit more handily as a sophomore. He's also a decent discus thrower who could score state points in that event.


Manhattan covers several events really well, with discus and shot put thrower James Higgs (third in the discus and sixth in the shot put last year), 300 hurdler Max Lansdowne (seventh at state last year), distance runner Daniel Harkin (fourth in the 3200 and runner-up in cross country) and pole vaulter Tyson Plummer (No. 2 returning mark this year).


Manhattan has a load of recent success at the state meet: The Indians have finished in the top two in seven of the past 10 years, including winning state titles in 2009 and 2018.


But the defending champs lost star sprinter Clyde King, Jr. to graduation, which may provide the opening for several contenders.


Gardner-Edgerton loads up in the field events with high jumpers Dayton Williams and Ivan Jalabomy; pole vaulters Colton Goodman and Trenton Bilhimer; and triple jumper Teven McKelvey. And distance runner Trent Cochran won a state title in cross country in 2017, and could score well in the distance events.


Four Olathe schools could join the fray for the state title. Olathe East's Hezekiah Newman (high jump, triple jump, long jump) and Jacob Vermillion (800) could key their team's chances, while three-event star Anthony Shields (high jump, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles) is key for Olathe South.


Olathe Northwest's Connor Boyd could win both the discus and shot put, and Olathe North - the 2018 cross country champions - will cover three distance events and the 4 X 800 relay with Cade Heikes, Jackson Caldwell, Joey Guzman and Brian Beach.


Hutchinson's Tayezhan Crough won state titles in the 110 hurdles and  300 hurdles as a sophomore, and will give his team a big boost. Wichita South's Deron Dudley is the defending champion in the 100, leading one of the division's best sprint groups. And Shawnee Mission North's Asher Molina won the 2018 cross country state title and is the defending state champion in the 1600.


Lawrence's girls return nearly every scoring member of their 2018 state championship team. The Lions put up an impressive 82 points to win by 21 over Olathe Northwest a year ago.


They have a bona fide star in middle distance runner Evann Seratte, who won the 800 a year ago and was just nipped at the line for the 400 title. Now a senior, she also keyed a runner-up finish for Lawrence in the 4 X 400 relay, running 56.9 on the anchor leg.


Junior Asjah Harris was the state runner-up at 200 meters and returns to hold down the sprints for the Lions this year. Lawrence also should get key points from javelin throwers Baylee Unruh and Amaya Harris; shot putters Chisom Ajekwu and Krissy Howard; and 800 meter runner Hannah Stewart.


But right now, it doesn't seem likely that Lawrence will run away from the rest of the class 6A girls field.


Olathe Northwest's Jaleesa McWashington has the top returning marks in the triple jump and long jump, and teammate Maddie Righter is No. 1 in the high jump and No. 2 in the long jump entering the 2019 season. Macy McKee should be a key contributor in both hurdles events.


Gardner Edgerton's girls could rack up the field event points, especially with Kennedy Comstock and Brenna Davidson in the javelin; and Kendra Wait, Becca Mitchell and Morgan McIntire in the pole vault. Wait and Kylie Moorehouse are also potential state medalists in the sprints. Wait won the class 6A girls 100 last year as a freshman.


Hutchinson and Olathe South are a couple darkhorse picks for the 6A girls state title - and more likely to challenge for a podium spot.


Hutchinson's Jayla Bynum enters the new season with the No. 1 returning marks in the discus and shot put, and the Salthawks also have a couple capable sprinters in Eleecya Birney and Andryce Jackson.


Dani Winslow of Olathe South is a state title contender in the high jump and 300 hurdles, while Mandy Truitt also could score in the high jump.


Leavenworth freshman Dhakiya Blake is an exciting addition to class 6A. Remember that it was a Leavenworth star - Aarika Lister - who won the class 5A 100 meters last year? Well, Blake may be the heir apparent; she has run 12.24 for 100 meters before she's even run a high school meet. Blake has been on fire during the indoor season, including a 58.2 for 400 meters in February.


Also back this season is two-time 100 meter hurdle champion Kiena Newman of Junction City; and Garden City's Taylor Savolt, who out-leaned Newman for the 300 meter hurdle state title a year ago.



Class 6A at a glance




Returning Individual State Champions

100 - Kendra Wait, sophomore, Gardner-Edgerton

800 - Evann Seratte, senior, Lawrence

100 hurdles - Kiena Newman, senior, Junction City

300 hurdles - Taylor Savolt, senior, Garden City

Shot put - Jayla Bynum, senior, Hutchinson


2018 Top Five Teams

1)   Lawrence 82

2)   Olathe Northwest 61

3)   Shawnee Mission East 50

4)   Junction City 41.5

5)   Wichita Southeast and Blue Valley North 40


Milesplit Projection for 2019 (does not include potential points for relays)

1)   Olathe Northwest 53

2)   Lawrence 51

3)   Gardner-Edgerton 46

4)   Olathe South 41

5)   Hutchinson 33




Returning Individual State Champions

100 - Deron Dudley, senior, Wichita South

1600 - Asher Molina, senior, Shawnee Mission North

110 hurdles - Tayezhan Crough, junior, Hutchinson

300 hurdles - Crough, junior, Hutchinson

Long jump - Samuel Macklin, junior, Shawnee Mission South

Javeliln - Sam Hankins, junior, Manhattan


2018 Top Five Teams

1)   Manhattan 76

2)   Shawnee Mission Northwest 66

3)   Haysville-Campus 41

4)   Wichita South 37

5)   Garden City and Washburn Rural 35


MileSplit Projection for 2019 (does not include potential points for relays)

1)   Manhattan 43

2)   Gardner-Edgerton 41.5

3)   Olathe South 37

4)   Olathe East 33

5)   Olathe Northwest 30