Performances of the Week - May 12-18
The season is beginning to wind down and tickets were punched to state this past week. Many found postseason success, and some earned their way into this week's top performances. The regional system in Kansas forces athletes to perform at their best just to get to the state meet and athletes often compete in more events than they're used to. This makes regional week one of the most exciting in the country and produces some outstanding performances. With just one meet next week, the top performances will be covered in KS Milesplit's state recaps, so this will be the final article of the season in this series. It's been a great season across the state, but without further ado, here's who impressed this week!
A perfect example of an athlete doing more than they're used to is St James Academy's Sarah Murrow. The junior distance runner ran three individual events for the first time in her career on Friday in Pittsburg. St James took the entire field behind the woodshed in the running events of a tough 5A Regional. Murrow led the charge with 30 points in the distance events. To start, she edged out St Thomas Aquinas senior Olivia Sovereign by one-hundredth of a second with a 5:27.31. A while later, she defeated teammate and state-leader Katie Moore in the 800 by a second and a half at just under 2:18. The quick turnaround from 800 to 3200 wasn't easy, but Murrow was able to pull away from a trio of sophomores and win her third event of the day in 11:27.
One of track and field's best feelings is qualifying for
state for the first time. Circle sophomore Kimalee Cook was graced with that
feeling on Thursday after a career day in the short sprints. She could almost
taste it after having the best seed and preliminary times in the 100 and 200
but had plenty of company right on her heels. (This included one named Cali
Anderson, but from Augusta, not Newton. What are the odds?) Both her
preliminary times were personal bests, but she still had work to do. In the finals,
she took the 100 with a time of 12.3, nearly two-tenths ahead of the field.
After some rest before the 200 finals, she blasted a 25.27 to annihilate three
state qualifiers that are favorites to make the state finals. A day where you
set two PR's, then set them again to qualify for state is undoubtedly a good
6A Regionals in Wichita are never easy to qualify through in
the speedy events, but Jaleel Montgomery carved his way through the competition
as just a sophomore. The Wichita West product breezed through prelims in the
110 hurdles, clocking just shy of a PR at 14.32. In the finals, a matchup with
seasoned elite and defending state champion Tayezhan Crough loomed large. After
leading the preliminary round of the 200, Montgomery was warmed up and ready to
rock. He cleared the high hurdles in 14.08 seconds to slay the giant and claim
a gold medal and his first ticket to state.
This week's thrower holds a claim that is reserved for a
select few. Jared Casey from Plainville is 9-0 in the shot put heading into
state, the only athlete I could find in hours of digging that has won their
event in all 9 possible meets so far. A perfect season is not very common
(there were no 10-0 athletes last year), but it's even less common when you're
going up against good competition every week. The junior thrower has a pair of
very strong teammates on his heels every week, and he has managed to edge them
out time and again. His 54-foot, 7-inch throw to win regionals at Smith Center
this week slates him as the second seed at state, behind Hillsboro's Wes Shaw.
The throw was the second best of his career, solidifying his claim as one of
the best in all classes. Jared Casey has a tough road ahead of him this week,
but his magical season has impressed already.
This year features just one more 9-0 athlete, also hailing from the 2A division. Creed Puyear has won as many long jumps as possible during his senior campaign (His Hi-Plains championship jumps have not been added to the Milesplit database). He leapt just under 22 feet into the sand pits in Sublette on Friday morning, edging out Conway Springs jumper Zachary Mercer by 7 inches. He is squarely in the mix at the state meet. He's just ½ inch behind the top seed, keeping a shimmer of hope alive for a perfect season. His triple jump isn't bad either. The senior came oh-so-close to being perfect among everything he did this season.
That brings us to our final performance of the week. After an 8-0 start to an outstanding triple jump campaign, Pyuear's tear ended with a 43' 5.25" leap. It's a bit notable when a 17-0 athlete is finally knocked off, so naturally the final performance will go to our giant-slayer. The deed was done by Medicine Lodge junior Cason Liebst, who hopped just two inches beyond Pyuear. A heroic 10-inch personal best led Liebst to a regional title and the #2 seed at state next week. To cap it all off, he snuck into the state field with a 4th place finish in the long jump when he launched himself 19' 10.75" into the sand pits. Slated tenth in the state seedings, he probably isn't worried; the underdog role suits him well.