High Jump, Javelin Nailbiters Highlight KU Relays

Many of Kansas' best athletes in the field events made their mark early as the high school events got underway Friday morning at the 92nd annual Kansas Relays at Rock Chalk Park.

Caleb Grill of Maize became the first gold medalist from Kansas at this year's Relays when he cleared 6-8 on his third attempt to win a nailbiter in the boys' high jump.


Labette County's Caleb Hentzen and Nickerson's Hunter Jones - who sit at No. 1 and No. 2 in class 4A -- also cleared 6-8 on their third attempt, but Grill got the win based on fewer misses. It was high drama for all three jumpers.


Katelyn Fairchild of Andale was the first Kansas girl to strike gold this year, winning a thrilling back-and-forth competition in the javelin against two Kansas competitors.


Fairchild picked a very good time to notch a career best, uncorking a throw of 150-3 on her third attempt of the prelims. It was just a few inches better than Centralia's Madison Lueger, the No. 2 ranked thrower in the U.S., whose second throw of the competition went 149-5.


Jacy Dalinghaus of Nemaha Central led the competition early when she tossed 144-11 on her first throw, but that was the best she was able to do on Friday and settled for third.


Auna Childress of Lawrence Free State lit up the home crowd when she won the girls triple jump with a career-best leap of 40-9 on her first attempt of the prelims. The mark puts her three feet ahead of anybody else in Kansas for this season, and No. 3 in the U.S. currently. Jaleesa McWashington of Olathe Northwest made it a 1-2 sweep for Kansas girls, jumping 37-10.5 for second place.


Kansas girls took five of the top 7 spots in the girls triple jump, including Olivia Pixton of Shawnee Mission Northwest in fourth (37-10), Taylor Savolt of Garden City in fifth (37-5) and Faith Turner of Pittsburg in seventh (37-1).


In a bit of a shocker, Matthew Everett of Winfield - the No. 1 discus thrower in Kansas and No. 24 in the U.S. - fouled three times in the prelims and was out of the competition.


Wesley Shaw of Hillsboro was third with a career-best 173-11 and Lemoses White of Piper was fourth (168-4) to lead the Kansas contingent in the boys' discus. Bryant Parlin of Bentonville (Ark.) stole the competition on his final throw, improving by more than 16 feet to win with a mark of 189-10. That's good enough for No. 13 in the U.S. currently.


Shaw is scheduled to compete Saturday in the boys' shot put, where he is ranked No. 1 in Kansas and No. 16 in the U.S. That event gets going at 10 a.m.


Ty McPhail of Andale cleared 14-2 and Colton Goodman of Gardner-Edgerton topped 13-8 for fourth and seventh places, respectively in the boy's pole vault.


Dalinghaus was seventh (40-6.25) and Lawrence's Chisom Ajekwu was eighth (39-1.75) in the girls' shot put.


Around the Track...

Lansing's Terry Robinson continued his impressive junior season when he nearly won the boys' 800 meters. Robinson led the race by a whisker over Jack Warner of Staley (Mo.) with 40 yards to go, but couldn't quite hold the lead. Warner eked out the win in 1:55.73 while Robinson lowered his career best and Kansas-leading time to 1:55.99.

Sophomore Samuel McDavitt of Andale placed seventh in 1:57.51, moving him to No. 2 in Kansas, and Yates Center's Hadley Splechter was ninth in 1:58.56.

Delaney Kemp (2:19.23) and Mollie Ricker (2:21.11) of Mill Valley led all Kansas girls in the 800, finishing sixth and eighth.

Joslin Blair of Eagle Valley (Colo.) pulled a surprise win in the girls 3200 meters, coming from behind to outkick Clara Mayfield of Manhattan, who entered the race with the No. 1 time in Kansas (10:36) and No. 47 in the U.S.


Blair had other ideas, though. She ran a career-best by 29 seconds, closing with a 74 second lap to win in a time of 10:45.77. Mayfield, who will run for the University of Columbia next year, ran a strong race but settled for second in 10:46.25 - the second-fastest time she has ever run for the distance.


The race also saw a career-best out of Washburn Rural's Jaybe Shufelberger, a Kansas State University recruit who was the state runner-up in cross country. Shufelberger finished fourth in 10:56.54 - the first time ever under 11:00 for the distance.


The boys' 3200 was uncharacteristically tactical for the Kansas Relays, which typically has a half-dozen runners near the 9:10 to 9:15 mark. Instead, Carthage (Mo.) senior Clayton Whitehead closed in 66 seconds to win in 9:19.95.


The early pace was pedestrian for the Kansas Relays, 4:46 for the lead pack. Whitehead closed in 4:33 for a 3 second win over Jack Crull of Helias (Mo.).


Hadley Splechter of Yates Center, also headed to Kansas State next fall, was fourth in 9:29.18, a season-best but five seconds off his career-best, while Asher Moen of Andover was sixth (9:33.39) and Sam Hubert of DeSoto was seventh (9:33.84).


Blue Valley West's girls were fifth (21:56.96) and Gardner-Edgerton's boys were sixth (18:45.48) to lead Kansas teams in the 4 X 1600 meter relay.

In the 300 meter hurdle finals, Layne Needham of Cheney ran a career-best 44.87 to finish second. Needham, the defending class 3A state champion, sits at No. 3 in Kansas in the event. Shelby Butterfield of Shawnee Heights was sixth (46.34), and Taylor Savolt of Garden City placed eighth (46.37).

Riley Petz of Cheney placed fourth in the second-fastest time of his career, 39.71, leading all Kansas competitors in the boys 300 meter hurdles. Petz was the class 3A state runner-up a year ago. Max Lansdowne of Manhattan placed seventh in 40.16.

Manhattan's girls were the top Kansas school in the Distance Medley Relay, placing fourth in 12:39.12. Gardner-Edgerton's Trenton Cochran closed in 4:28 to pull his team to fourth place in the boys' Distance Medley Relay (10:45.19).

Sam Overby of Leavenworth (6:33.47) and Aria Sheldon of Maize (7:57.58) were Kansas' top finishers in the boys' and girls' 2000 meter steeplechase. Both placed fourth in their respective races.

There were no event winners from Kansas on the track on Day 1 of this year's Kansas Relays.


In preliminary heats:

In what may be a preview of the race for the class 6A state championship next month, Gardner-Edgerton's girls edged Leavenworth in heat 2 of the 4 X 100 prelims. In doing so, Gardner-Edgerton took over the top time in Kansas for this season, 49.17, just ahead of Leavenworth's previous best of 49.21.

Leavenworth clocked 49.29 on Friday, good enough to get into Saturday's finals (12:07 p.m.) and a rematch with Gardner-Edgerton. Lawrence's girls won heat 7 (49.35) to advance to Saturday's final, as well. The three Kansas class 6A teams will be the fourth, fifth and sixth seeds into Saturday's final. 

Gardner-Edgerton's boys were flying on Friday. The squad lowered the No. 1 mark in Kansas this year, winning heat 6 in 42.66 and qualifying for the 4 X 100 finals (Saturday, 12:11 p.m.) with the third best time of the day. Olathe East (43.63) won heat 3 and qualified for the finals even though two other Kansas teams -- Olathe West (43.38) and Piper (43.49) -- had faster times in the prelims.

Kendra Wait of Gardner Edgerton, Destiny Ray of Shawnee Mission East and Faith Turner of Pittsburg qualified for Saturday's finals of the 100 meters. That event will be run at 1:10 p.m.


Jason Hubener of Cheney and Nevan Tebb-Lolar of Blue Valley West qualified for the finals of the boys 100, scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Saturday.


Layne Needham of Cheney clocked the second-fastest time of her career (15.09) to win a preliminary heat of the girls 100 meter hurdles. She'll be joined in Saturday's finals (12:40 p.m.) by Smoky Valley's Belle Peters.


Jack Mull of Winfield is the only Kansas boy who made it to Saturday's finals of the 110 meter hurdles, set for 12:43 p.m.


Matti Price of Riverton lowered her No. 1 Kansas time in the 400 meters to 57.97 to win a preliminary heat and advance to Saturday's finals (12:58 p.m.). She will be joined by Dhakiya Blake of Leavenworth (59.27 in the prelims) and Kylie Moorehouse of Gardner-Edgerton (1:00.19).

Guy Ramos of Leavenworth (49.57), Malachi Starr of Lawrence Free State (49.79) and David Brown of Blue Valley West (50.93) qualified for Saturday's finals of the 400 meters, which will be run at 1:07 p.m.

In the 4 X 400 relay, Lawrence and Andover Central made the girls' final on Saturday (3:19 p.m.), while no Kansas boys' teams were able to advance from the prelims to the finals.