Manhattan's Sam Hankins threw 206-4 to win the javelin at
the Mid-Winter Relays in Topeka, sending him to the top of the U.S. high school
rankings and highlighting the first week of action in Kansas track and field.
Hankins, a junior and two-time state champion in the event, was expected to be one of the top throwers in the country this season, but landing the top spot in the national rankings after one week is a nice bonus.
It's still about 14 feet short of his career best of 220-9, set at last year's Class 6A regional. Hankins' winning throw at last year's state meet was 212-1. Hankins topped the 200 foot mark in 8 of 9 high school meets a year ago.
Ethan Marshall of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Kansas Gatorade Runner of the Year for cross country, showed he is also in pretty good early season form, winning the 1600 and 3200 meters at the Olathe North Preseason Classic.
Marshall and teammate Tommy Hazen out-dualed Olathe North's Joey Guzman and Cade Heikes in an exciting season-opening 1600 meter battle. Marshall's winning time was 4:27.03, just ahead of Hazen at 4:27.78, while Guzman (4:28.23) and Heikes (4:29.55) were right on their heels.
If that's what we're in store for this season, then hang on to your boot straps!
In fact, that 1600 meter race had 20 runners break the 5:00 mark, giving an indication of the depth of distance running in the Kansas City area right now.
Marshall, the only St. Thomas Aquinas boy ever to win two state cross country titles, later won the 3200 in another solid, early-season time - 9:39.52. Olathe North's Jackson Caldwell was second in 9:53.61.
There were numerous distance races that turned into exciting finish line battles this past week.
At the Shawnee Mission East Quadrangular, Asher Molina of Shawnee Mission North - the class 6A state cross country champ last fall - just edged a relative newcomer to the state's distance scene, Christian Buehler of Blue Valley Southwest. Molina won in 4:26.56, which was the fastest 1600 meter time in the state this week, and Buehler was second in 4:28.82.
Here's another name to know for distance running in Kansas: Jack Walsh of Wichita East. The junior put up a 22 second PR to win the Wichita Southeast Invitational in 4:27.52, out-kicking Maize South's Britt Magnuson, who finished in 4:27.77.
And in the boys' 3200, Jack Moore of St. James threw down a 62 second last quarter and 2:14 for the last 800, but came up about two-tenths of a second short of catching Rockhurst's Tom Seitzer. Moore's second place time was 9:35.44, while Seitzer got the win in 9:35.24.
Perhaps the most exciting sprint race of the week was at the Wichita Southeast Invitational where Wichita West junior Jaleel Montgomery beat the defending class 6A state champion, Deron Dudley of Wichita South. Montgomery finished in 10.92 while Dudley crossed at 10.98.
Just before that race, Montgomery finished second in the 110 hurdles in a time of 14.94, just two-tenths behind defending class 6A state champ Tayezhan Crough of Hutchinson (14.72). Crough, the state's top-ranked hurdler regardless of classification, also won the 300 hurdles in a state-leading 39.69.
Later at that same meet, Dudley won the 200 in 22.49, just ahead of teammate Nicomus Craig (22.94).
At the Mid-Winter Classic in Topeka, Max Lansdowne of Manhattan and Matt East of Emporia previewed what could be a pretty good Centennial League rivalry this season. Lansdowne clocked 41.42 to win the 300 hurdles over East, who was timed in 41.68.
Destiny Ray of Shawnee Mission East kicked off her 2019 season in good form, as the returning state medalist won the 100 (12.46) and 200 (25.78) meter titles at the Shawnee Mission East Quad. Her school swept both the boys and girls titles at their home meet.
Some other top track performance this week include:
* Kendall Brewer of Schlagle and Yaseen Chapell of Wyandotte ran to a near dead-heat in the 100 meter dash of the Wyandotte Relays. Both were timed in 11.35, but Brewer was given the slight edge and the win.
* Evann Seratte and Hannah Stewart finished 1-2 in the 800 meters, highlighting a dominating performance by defending class 6A girls state champions Lawrence at the Lawrence Free State Early Bird Invite. The Lions look every bit the part of a team that could defend its state title this season.
In the field events, Bonnie Hegarty of Manhattan cleared 5-5 to win the Mid-Winter Classic, putting her at No. 1 in Kansas and No. 68 in the United States for the young season.
Jayla Bynum of Hutchinson also had a good week. She won the discus (121-7) and shot put (40-8) at the Wichita Southeast Invitational, out-dueling Wichita South's Hollie Stewart (37-1.5) in the shot put.
Also at Wichita Southeast, Jacob Schmitz of Kapaun Mt. Carmel won the discus (162-10) in a good battle with Wichita Northwest's Marcus Hicks (158-8); and Caleb Grill of Maize cleared 6-7 to notch the state's top mark this week. Julius Bolden of Wichita Northwest soared 22-9.5 to win the long jump.
At the Mid-Winter Relays, Emporia's Elizabet Schwerdtfeger put up a pair of solid marks, winning the triple jump (35-11.25) and long jump (16-5). In the boys' field events, Manhattan's James Higgs - a class 6A state medalist in the shot put and discus last year - won both of those events with marks of 49-5.5 and 135-5.
At the Olathe North Preseason Classic, Emily Fuhr of DeSoto swept the discus (124-6, No. 1 in Kansas) and shot put (37-11.75, No. 2 in Kansas), while Adelle Warford of Mill Valley won the javelin (123-3, No. 1 in Kansas).
Lawrence's dominance at the Free State Early Bird Invite included a 1-2 finish by Chisom Ajekwu (38-2.5) and Krissy Howard (36-6) in the shot put, and Josie Hickerson in the pole vault (11-6, which is the best mark in Kansas this season by nearly two feet). Free State's Laila Robinson won the high jump with a mark of 5-2, the second best mark in Kansas so far this season.