When you put together Kansas' best track and field athletes
with berths to the country's biggest state meet on the line, you ought to
expect some electricity.
So what transpired Thursday and Friday at regional meets across the state should come as no surprise.
How about a freshman (Dhakiya Blake of Leavenworth) winning four regional titles in the sprints, against competition that she will likely be lining up against in the state finals in six more days?
Or a blanket finish in the boys 100 in which six runners went under 11 seconds? Similarly, a finish in the girls 400 meters in which all four state qualifiers finished under 60 seconds? Or, at another regional where the fifth place finisher in a girls 800 clocked 2:20.26 - a time that is the ninth best in all of Kansas this season yet not good enough to get to state in class 6A.
Those were just some of the highlights to go with a handful of heartbreaks during this week's regional action across Kansas.
Let's run through some of those fantastic finishes as well as a few tear-jerkers we saw in Kansas, broken down by classification:
Ah yes...speed thrills. And the fastest men in Kansas were putting on quite a show on Friday. Deron Dudley of Wichita South ripped 10.38 in the 100 to edge Wichita West's Xavier Sellers, who clocked 10.50. Those are the fastest times in Kansas this season, and will only add more hype to what promises to be an exciting 100 meter final at state this week. There were 12 class 6A boys who dropped under 11 seconds this week.
Dudley's time is just two-hundredths off the class 6A state meet record of 10.36, set in 1996 by Mario Ponds of Wichita Southeast. It also puts Dudley at No. 25 in the United States right now. The time is the sixth fastest ever run in Kansas, and the fastest since 2011.
So good was the regional meet at Wichita Northeast that two runners who broke 11 seconds - Dodge City's Jaiel Johnson (10.89) and Derby's Davin Simms (10.92) - did not get one of the four qualifying spots. Instead, Derby's Migc Aiyanyor (10.85) and Hutchinson's Ezekiel Seamster (10.86) were third and fourth.
Dudley also won the 200 (22.01), but Sellers led his Wichita West team (43.10) over Seller's South squad (43.52) to a win in the 4 X 100 relay.
Leavenworth's Blake was a star among stars at the regional meet at Shawnee Mission North High School. She won the 100 (12/03), 200 (24.82) and 400 (57.54) and ran a leg on Leavenworth's winning 4 X 400 relay, which became the first team in Kansas to run under 4 minutes this season (3:59.31).
Those are all smokin' fast times, all ranking in the top 5 in Kansas this seasaon. Blake already held the state's fastest time in the 400, but her finish Friday put her in the top spot for the 200, as well.
Her teammate, Wynter Ramos was second in the 400 (58.00), and third in the 100 (12.16) and 200 (25.26), while also running on the 4 X 400 relay. Shawnee Mission East's Destiny Ray was second in the 100 (12.07) and 200 (25.10) and Shawnee Mission West's Kierra Prim was fourth in the 100 (12.40) and 200 (25.62).
Shawnee Mission West's Jasmine Patterson and Mary Humphreys finished third and fourth in the 400, with times of 58.52 and 59.11. In all, seven girls in class 6A dipped under 60 seconds at regionals, including Aneesa Abdul-hameed of Derby (59.19), Kennedi Cline of Olathe West (59.28) and Lauren Cassaday of Blue Valley North (59.88).
Kendra Wait of Gardner-Edgerton was pretty darn good, too. The sophomore may be the state's most versatile athlete, winning the 100 (12.04), shot put (42-7) and pole vault (11-6) and finishing second in the 200 (24.93). Asjah Harris of Lawrence just nipped Wait in the 200, clocking 24.89.
Wichita West's Lajada Owens had the state's fastest 100 meters for girls, however. She jumped to No. 2 in Kansas with a time of 11.96 on Friday.
Wichita West senior Jaleel Montgomery took over the No. 1 ranking in Kansas for the 110 hurdles, clocking 14.08 to win the regional title over the former No. 1 holder and class 6A defending state champion Tayezhan Crough of Hutchinson, who ran a season-best 14.26. It sets up a great rematch at this week's state meet.
In the middle distance and distance races, Manhattan's Clara Mayfield already owns the state's top times in the 1600 and 3200, and moved to No. 4 in the 800 on Friday. She won regional titles in the longer events, but the best distance race of the night was in the 800.
Jaybe Shufelberger of Washburn Rural won that race in 2:18.38, just edging Mayfield (2:18.96) and Lawrence's Hannah Stewart (2:18.08) and Evann Seratte (2:19.09). Emily Keeley of Manhattan placed fifth in 2:20.26, the ninth best time in Kansas this season and the sixth best in class 6A - yet she won't get to run that event at state.
Keeley did finish second in the 1600 Friday, and will probably run a leg on Manhattan's winning 4 X 800 relay.
While most of Kansas' distance runners jogged to qualifying times on Friday, Blue Valley North's Lily Strauss took a different path. She ran season-bests in the 800 (2:20.71) and 1600 (5:09.78) to win her regional. Blue Valley West freshman Katherine Soule clocked 11:25.39 for the top qualifying time in the 3200 this week.
Among class 6A boys, Guy Ramos of Leavenworth picked up three gold medals, but it was the event that he and his mates didn't win that may get the headlines.
Leavenworth's chances at the class 6A boys team title took a hit when the 4 X 400 relay squad was disqualified. On the plus side for the Pioneers, it meant that Ramos will have one less race to run during a busy two days. Friday, he won regional titles in the 200 (22.34), 400 (48.79) and the 4 X 100 relay.
Manhattan's Sam Hankins had his furthest throw in Kansas this season, 213-0, to win the regional title (he threw 220-0 at a meet in South Dakota two weeks ago). The junior is a huge favorite to win his third consecutive state title this week. Manhattan, the defending champs in 6A, took a blow when senior hurdler Max Lansdowne was unable to compete due to injury. Lansdowne was the No. 2 300 meter hurdler in class 6A this season.
Olathe Northwest standout Maddie Righter took care of business, getting through to state in the 100 hurdles (15.23), high jump (5-6), and long jump (19-2.5). She's No. 1 in Kansas in the high jump, and a top three contender in the other two events.
Righter was beaten in the 100 hurdles by Olathe North's Kaiya Mckie, a name we haven't heard much from this season. She ran a career best 14.67 - more than a half second better than her previous best - to move to No. 4 in Kansas and No. 2 in class 6A.
In girls' field events, Claire Kaifes of Mill Valley won a regional title in the shot put (42-3.5) and moved to No. 2 in class 6A. Jayla Bynum of Hutchinson also had a good day, winning her regional meet with a toss of 41-3.5.
Jaleesa Mcwashington of Olathe Northwest edged ever so close to the 20 foot mark, but settled for a win with a mark of 19-8 in the long jump. She won a tight competition against Dymon Preyor of Blue Valley, who jumped 19-6. Those are the top two marks in Kansas this season. Mcwashington also won the triple jump (38-4.75) on Friday.
Lawrence Free State's Auna Childress was back this week after sitting out the Sunflower League Championships. Childress won regional titles in the long jump (18-3) and triple jump (40-6).
Shawnee Mission Northwest's Chanler Taylor improved on his state-leading mark in the triple jump, flying 47-2.25 on Friday. He also won the long jump with a mark of 22-5.
The top programs in boys and girls class 5A took care of business Friday night.
Bishop Carroll's boys qualified athletes in 11 of 18 events, including multiple athletes in five individual events. Bishop Carroll won the class 5A title by 40 points a year ago and seem on track to put up a big number again.
Highlighting Carroll's dominance was a 1-2-3 finish in the pole vault by junior Brian Simon (16-4), senior Ethan Hull (15-2) and senior Aj McCormick (14-2); and a 1-2-3 finish in the 300 hurdles by Kody Marvin (40.50), junior Tommy Harter (40.92) and junior Justin Powell (40.94). The three hurdlers also took 3 of the top 4 spots in the 110 hurdles.
Bishop Carroll won the 4 X 100 relay (44.43), but may have lost some state points when its 4 X 800 relay failed to qualify.
Andover's boys had a great meet, too, and could be primed to pull the upset at state. That squad qualified athletes in seven events, including multiple athletes in four. Andover got regional wins from its 4 X 400 (3:25.25) and 4 X 800 (8:18.43) relays; Austin Henry in the triple jump (43-9); Samuel McDavitt in the 800 (2:00.15) and Asher Moen in the 3200 (10:02).
The St. James Academy's girls enter this week's state meet with a great chance of winning the state title, after three successive runner-up finishes. They'll likely do it with the state's best middle distance and distance crew, and they will come in droves.
On Friday, St. James dominated everything from 400 meters on up, scoring 66 of the team's 125 points in four events alone - the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. That includes three wins from junior Sarah Murrow, who won the 800 (2:17.96), 1600 (5:27.31) and 3200 (11:27.47).
The Thunder continued rolling with wins by Hannah Robinson in the 400 (59.02) and the 4 X 400 (4:07.95) relay. Katie Moore was second in the 800 (2:19.45), third in the 400 (59.24) and fourth in the 1600 (5:43.44). Robinson qualified for state with a fourth in the 800 (2:21.47) and Ella Jett was fourth in the 400 (1:00.60). St. James also placed second in the 4 X 800 relay.
It was a very workmanlike performance for St. James, seemingly priming the pump for this week's state meet when all of those athletes - and the two relays - are likely to score points.
Other highlights from the class 5A regionals:
Newton's Kalli Anderson ran the fastest time in Kansas this year in winning the 100 in 11.59. That also moves her to No. 24 in the United States for the season, and is the third fastest time ever run in Kansas. Anderson, the 2017 class 5A 100 meter champion and a four-time runner-up in the 100 and 200, is the odds-on favorite to win both sprint events in class 5A this season. On Friday, she won the 200 in 26.91, more than a second ahead of the runner-up.
For the boys, it seems like everyone can run under 11 seconds for 100 meters these days...well, okay, maybe not, but Shawnee Heights' Davion Gardenhire sure makes it look easy. The junior took his regional title in a time of 10.56, edging Lansing's Malik Benson (10.62) and Seaman's Eric Patterson (10.79). Gardenhire added the 200 meter title later on, winning in 22.62.
Eisenhower sophomore Ryan Dreiling is a new name to watch on the state's sprint scene. Friday, he won regional titles in the 100 (10.85) and 200 (22.04). His time in the 200 is the fourth fastest in Kansas this season, and No. 1 in class 5A.
Kindel Nordhus of Bishop Carroll put the hammer down in winning four regional titles on Friday. Nordhus, a senior who won the state title in the 300 meter hurdles last year, won the 200 (25.16), 400 (1:01.43), 100 hurdles (15.14) and 300 hurdles (48.22).
At the same regional, Goddard's Kade Hackerott was a double winner, taking the shot put (39-5.25) and the javelin (119-10).
Pittsburg's Faith Turner was pretty dominating in winning three regional events: the 100 (12.34), long jump (19-2.5) and the triple jump (38-10). She won the long jump by more than two feet and the triple by more than three. Turner is the defending class 5A state champion in both jumping events, and was sixth at 100 meters a year ago.
Newton's girls suffered a big blow in their quest for a four straight class 5A state championship. Senior Maggie Remsberg, the defending state champion in the 100 hurdles, failed to qualify in that event despite having the best time in the preliminaries. She finished ninth in the race, which was won by the girl who had the best chance to take away her title this year - Emma Ruddle of McPherson (14.15).
Remsberg rebounded to win the 300 hurdles (45.56) and long jump (17-11.25), and could also run on Newton's 4 X 100 or 4 X 400 relays, which placed fourth at regionals. Ruddle also qualified in the 100, where she placed second in 12.17.
The best class 5A boys distance race of the week was in Pittsburg where St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore Tommy Hazen - the state leader in the 1600 and 3200 - clocked 4:22.85, winning in a mad sprint against teammate Ethan Marshall (4:23.21), St. James Academy's Jack Moore (4:23.50) and Aquinas' Aiden Higgerson (4:24.40). John Matulis of St. James missed out on a spot to state despite running 4:25.82 - good for No. 6 in class 5A this season.
The same four runners took the top four spots in the 3200; this time Hazen out-kicked Moore for the win.
Pittsburg's Laken Robinson cleared 5-6 to win a regional title in the high jump. She beat St. Thomas Aquinas' Paris Bond (5-2) in a matchup of the top two ranked high jumpers in class 5A. Nahshon Houston of Sumner Academy improved his career-best to 23-4.5 to win the boys' long jump; Houston sits at No. 2 in class 5A in that event, just behind Lansing's Malik Benson, who soared 23-9 to win his regional meet.
Linnea Searls of DeSoto (18-7.75) won a regional title in the long jump over Shelby Butterfield of Shawnee Heights (18-7.5) and Elizabet Schwerdtfeger of Emporia (18-2.25). Those marks land at No. 2, 3 and 4 in class 5A heading into state.
Class 4A's top sprinters weren't about to be left out of the party this week. Dequan Johnson of Parsons won a blanket finish in the 100 meters to win his regional in 10.75, just ahead of Field Kindley's Darell Jones (10.85), Winfield's Landon Davis (10.92) and Mulvane's Cole Diffenbaugh (10.97).
Matt Jackson of Baldwin clocked 22.15 for the top time in class 4A this season, winning a regional title over Paola's Ryan Wokutch, whose time of 22.23 is No. 2 in 4A heading into state.
Matthew Everett of Winfield rolled into state, winning regional titles in the shot put (50-9) and discus (192-6). His throw in the discus is 40 feet further than anyone else in class 4A this week, and it moves him to No. 15 in the United States. It's also the 15th best throw in Kansas history.
Caleb Hentzen of Labette County, who has cleared 6-10 in the high jump this season, won that event this week at 6-6. Teammate Ethan Jameson also cleared 6-6, but Hentzen won based on fewer misses.
Eric Kop of Wellington moved to No. 2 in class 4A when he won a tight race in the 300 hurdles. He was timed in 38.82 for a narrow win over Brett Winsor of Pratt (39.64), Gavin York of Wellington (40.82) and Sawyer Simon of Andale (40.92). Kop had earlier won the 110 hurdles in 14.50, good for No. 3 in 4A.
A name you might want to keep in mind for this week's state meet: Steven Roudybush of Wamego. He's quietly put together a solid season, ranking in the top five in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. He won both of those events at Friday's regional in Abilene.
Also in Abilene, a pair of Chapman distance standouts showed they are ready for state. Senior Aaron Modrow won the 800 (2:01.62), 1600 (4:34.53) and 3200 (10:03.36); and sophomore Taylor Briggs - who has never lost a state race in cross country or track and field - won the 1600 (5:06.90) and 3200 (11:36.93). Abilene's Sydney Burton, who is headed for K-State next year, won the 800 in 2:20.65 in a good battle against Buhler's Leah Bentley (2:21.60).
Buhler's Jordan Hawkins - who won class 4A state titles in the 100 and 200 in 2017 before missing last year's championships due to injury - seems to be back on track. He won regional titles in the 100 (10.66) and 200 (22.70). He's now won those events in 7 of 8 meets this season, losing only to Smoky Valley's Timmy Lambert, who is considered one of the best sprinters in Kansas in all divisions.
In the boys' shot put, Tonganoxie's Cole Sample unleashed a might throw of 61-10.5 to beat Piper's Cooper Beebe (58-4.5) and Lemoses White (52-4.75). Sample improved his career best by nearly three feet, and is No. 1 in class 4A (No. 2 in Kansas) this season. White won the regional title in the discus (161-11).
Senior Marshall Faurot led an onslaught by class 3A boys defending state champion Scott Community, qualifying for state in three individual events. He'll also likely run a leg on one of Scott Community's three relays - all of which could win the state title.
Faurot won regional titles this week in the 110 hurdles (14.64, and 14.58 in the prelims) and pole vault (15-0), and was third in the high jump.
Scott Community's boys qualified athletes in 14 of 18 events, including multiple athletes in five events. Distance runner Jack Thomas picked up wins in the 1600 (4:38.72) and 3200 (10:00.94), while Marshall Faurot (15-0), Loren Faurot (14-6) and Hunter Yager (14-0) swept the top three spots in the pole vault.
Injuries seem to have taken down a pair of defending class 3A state champs. Beloit's Hannah Burks, who won the 3200 last year and was third at state cross country in the fall, did not compete this week in the 1600 or 3200. And Colby speedster Jordan Schippers, the defending state champ in the 200, did not qualify in either the 100 or 200 after running well in the prelims of both of those events.
A strange development: Isaiah Armstrong of Holcomb had the top time in class 3A in the 400 (48.40), but he didn't run that event at regionals. Instead, he ran - and won - the 200 in a time of 22.66, which is pretty good but it's No. 2 in class 3A behind Timmy Lambert of Smoky Valley. Speaking of which...
Lambert heads into state with regional titles in the 100 (11.08), 200 (23.75), and 300 hurdles (38.67). He didn't run the 110 hurdles at regionals, instead running the anchor on Smoky Valley's winning 4 X 100 relay, which won in a division-leading time of 42.98.
Layne Needham of Cheney, who is one of the top five hurdlers in all Kansas divisions, cruised through regionals, winning the 100 hurdles in 14.85 and the 300 hurdles in 44.82. She's the defending state champ in both of those events. Needham was also second in the 200 (26.74), which was won by class 3A defending state champ Lauren Carlson of Council Grove (26.49). Carlson also won the 100 (12.60); she was the state runner-up in that event a year ago.
Matti Price of Riverton was a three time regional champ, winning the 100 (12.44), 200 (25.69) and 400 (58.35). At the same meet, Matthew Oglesby of Galena - the class 3A state cross country champ - won the 800 (2:03.33) and 3200 (10:01.18); and Ashlyn Doebele of Burlington swept the long jump (17-4) and triple jump (36-5.5).
At the Silver Lake regional, a couple of the state's best throwers moved on to state. Jacy Dalinghaus of Nemaha Central won the javelin (145-0) and shot put (43-1.75), edging Riley County's Ames Burton (41-7.5). But Burton, nationally-ranked in the discus, won that event with a toss of 134-6 - one foot better than Dalinghaus. Those two are likely to go 1-2 in the shot put and discus at the state meet.
Yates Center's Hadley Splechter set the stage for a grand finale at this year's class 2A state championships. Splechter, a seven-time state champion in cross country and track and field, won regional titles in the 800 (2:06.22), 1600 (4:51.60) and 3200 (10:27.85) in what amounted to little more than a workout for the Kansas State University bound senior. He won all three of those events last year, and it will be a big upset if he doesn't win all three again this week.
Wes Shaw of Hillsboro also is pretty close to unbeatable in the discus and shot put. He won those events with throws of 149-5 and 62-4 and will be seeking his second straight state title in the shot put.
Hillsboro's boys team has put a powerful force together for this week's state meet. They qualified in six of the seven field events, including multiple athletes in five of those events.
Plainville's girls went toe-to-toe with Bennington, the defending state champs in class 2A and a strong favorite to defend that title this week. The two teams tied for the regional title with 81 points.
Plainville got regional wins from Janae Holmes in the shot put (40-5.5) and Brooklyn Staab in the discus (121-7), as well as a win over Bennington in the 4 X 100 relay. Bennington's regional champs included Chloe Stanley in the 100 hurdles (15.80) and 300 hurdles (46.79); and Jasey Downing in the 200 (26.88).
Danielle Howard, a freshman from Uniontown, won regional titles in the 100 (13.68), 200 (28.28) and 300 hurdles (48.36). She also qualified for state in the long jump.
Ethan Thompson of Meade finished runner-up to Yates Center's Splechter in the 800, 1600 and 3200 at last year's state meet. He'll get another shot to take down Splechter this year after winning all three of those events at regionals.
Grace Thompson of Sedgwick showed her versatility, winning regional titles in the 200 (27.59), shot put (40-6) and discus (125-1). She was also third in the 100.
Sterling sophomore Tyus Wilson cleared 6-8 to win the high jump at regionals. He will get a chance to defend the state title he won last year as a freshman. Wilson has the state's best jump in the event, 6-11 at the Ellinwood Invitational two weeks ago.
Drew Blake of Ellinwood ran the week's fastest 100 time in class 2A, 10.79 - good for the division's No. 2 spot this season. Trevor Johnson of Rossville lowered his career best to 10.84, No. 3 in class 2A. Javon Allen of Bennington currently sits at No. 1 in that event.
Jax Holland of Maranatha outdueled Johnson in the 200 at regionals, clocking 22.50, which moves him to No. 2 in class 2A this season. Holland also won the long jump with a mark of 21-8.75.
Paige Baird of Northern Valley won four regional titles on Thursday, setting herself up for a busy couple of days in Wichita this week. Baird, a senior, won the 100 hurdles (15.22), 300 hurdles (50.51), 200 (26.84) and 400 (1:00.62). Baird is the defending 1A state champ in the 400; runner-up in the 200 and 300 hurdles, and third in the 100 hurdles a year ago.
Gabriel Salas of Satanta seems to have every intention of making his senior season special. On Thursday, he flew 22-8.25 to take over the No. 1 spot in the class 1A long jump. His previous best this season was 22-0, which he jumped to win the league title one week earlier. Salas is undefeated in the long jump this season and is a strong pick to win the state title this week.
Rylee Gleason of Kinsley is also trying to make her last go-around memorable. The senior won regional titles in the 100 hurdles (14.99) and 300 hurdles (45.42), and was third in the 200. Gleason is the class 1A defending state champion in the 300 hurdles and was the runner-up in the 100 hurdles last year. She's undefeated in both events this season.
Collin Oswalt of Central Christian muscled up for three regional wins on Thursday. He ran a leg on his team's winning 4 X 800 relay (8:49.91), then won individual titles in the 1600 (4:40.44) and 3200 (10:15.52).
Here's a name to remember in class 1A: Addi Heinson. The Kiowa County freshman will go into her first state meet having won the 100 (12.18), 200 (26.37) and 400 (1:00.03) at regionals. She also ran a leg on Kiowa County's winning 4 X 100 relay.
The girl to beat in class 1A sprints, however, is Moundridge's Jamya O'Quinn. She won the sprint titles in class 2A last year and has been the odds-on favorite in class 1A the entire season. Her times weren't flashy, but she won regional titles in the 100 (13.23) and 200 (27.00) on Friday.
Osborne lost a major piece to its state title run next week when senior Darnell Holloway pulled up limp in the 100 meters. Holloway ran 11.09 for the top qualifying time in the prelims, but limped home to eighth place in the finals at 16.41. It's a disheartening ending for the senior, who very well could have finished top 3 in the sprints at state.
His brother, Darrien Holloway, will key Osborne's state title run, winning the 100 hurdles (15.13) and 300 hurdles (40.25).
Trevor Medina of Wallace County won regional titles in the long jump (21-4) and triple jump (42-4), but we'll have to wait and see if he's healthy to compete this week at state. Just like Holloway in the 100, Medina posted the top qualifying time in the 200, but then pulled up and struggled to finish in the finals.
Lincoln's girls loaded up in the distance events with an eye on putting the class 1A track and field trophy next to the one they won in cross country last fall. Jaycee Vath, Reagan Stewart and Shelbie Ford placed 1-2-4 in the 3200; Vath won the 1600; Aubry Donley won the 400 and 800, while Vath was second in the 800; and the squad also won the 4 X 800 relay.
Lincoln dominated the cross country championships last fall, and with the level of talent they are bringing to the state track and field meet, they could post a very big score in the team standings.
Erin Topham of Berean Academy will be one of the key foes for the Lincoln distance runners. She won regional titles this past week in the 1600 and 3200.
A pair of returning state champs from Centralia are heading back to state. Madison Lueger won the javelin (129-3) and Breanna Schmitz won the pole vault (11-0). Centralia's girls also got wins from Morgan Kramer in the 100 (12.80) and its 4 X 400 relay squad. Daegan Steinlage of Centralia won the boys shot put (51-5) and discus (153-0).