Finally! State Draws to Close After Weather Delays

After storms and lightning washed away most of Friday's opening day of the Kansas High School State Track and Field Championships, the state's athletes made a remarkable comeback on day two.

Maybe it was so good, that they just didn't want it to end.

After another weather delay late Saturday - and another one late Sunday morning -- the 2019 championships finally did end Sunday afternoon at Wichita's Cessna Stadium. Fittingly, the last race of the many-times-suspended meet decided the final team champion for 2019.

Gardner-Edgerton's boys were crowned the class 6A boys champion when its 4 X 400 relay team finished fourth, earning a precious five points that gave it a three-point win over Blue Valley West. Gardner-Edgerton finished with 64 points, while Blue Valley West had 61 and Manhattan was third at 51.5.

The Blazers entered Sunday's final two events - the 200 and the 4 X 400 relay - with a precarious four and one-half point lead over defending champion Manhattan, with Mill Valley and Blue Valley West lurking. All four teams had a 4 X 400 relay, while Gardner-Edgerton and Blue Valley West had a pair of sprinters in the 200.

Gardner-Edgerton stretched its lead to seven and one-half points when Sae-Vheon Alcorn placed sixth in the 200, and Blue Valley West pulled into third place - eight points back - when Nevan Tebb-lolar was second (22.23) and David Brown was eighth (22.66) in the 200.

Blue Valley West ran to victory in the 4 X 400, giving it 10 points and the lead in the team standings. But Gardner-Edgerton had a pretty good relay quartet, too, which salvaged the team title with its fourth place finish.

Andale's boys rallied to win the 4A state title on Sunday when pole vaulters Ty McPhail (15-0), Braden Meyer (14-6) and Joseph Spexarth (13-0) erased Piper's 12-point lead. McPhail and Meyer - the top two seeds entering state - held up for a 1-2 finish and Spexarth was seventh as the 20 points in that event put Andale into the lead for the first time all weekend.

In another thrilling finish, Kiowa County's Sabrina Thomas got a clutch win in the class 1A girls discus on Sunday morning. Her 10 points lifted her team - the pre-meet favorite - into a tie with Lincoln for first place. Kiowa County then completed the comeback when its 4 X 400 relay team won that event, providing the winning margin in a 69-59 win.

Lawrence's girls successfully defended the class 6A state title that they won a year ago, relentlessly pounding the medal stand throughout Saturday afternoon en route to 84 points. They were able to hold off a couple of tough pursuers; Leavenworth rode a victory in the 4 x 400 relay (3:59.64) to second place with 62 points, while Olathe Northwest was third with 60.

The class 5A titles went to Bishop Carroll's boys and the St. James Academy girls, which had a pesky Bishop Carroll team chasing closely behind all day. Bishop Carroll's girls still had an outside chance at a state title with two field events and the 4 X 400 relay remaining, but couldn't make up a 10 point deficit.

In class 4A, Andale's girls successfully defended their team title by a wide margin, riding its power in the field events to another state championship.

The class 3A titles went to Scott Community's boys and Nemaha Central's girls, both winning by comfortable margins.

Garden Plain was a surprise winner in class 2A girls, topping defending champion Bennington by 14.5 points, while Stanton County completed a comeback for the 2A boys title with a third place finish in the 4 X 400 relay.

In class 1A boys, Northern Valley went down to the last event before holding off a great effort by Hanover.

Here's a closer look at some of the highlights of each team race:

CLASS 6A

Lawrence's girls successfully defended the 6A crown it won a year ago, getting state champion performances from Josie Hickerson in the pole vault (12-3) and Asjah Harris in the 200 (24.98). Harris also anchored the Lions' winning 4 X 100 relay (48.52). Hannah Stewart was second in the 800 and third in the 1600, and Amaya Harris was second in the javelin.

Leavenworth freshman Dhakiya Blake won the 400 (56.92) and was the runner-up in the 200 (25.00) to lead her team's charge. Colbie Fairley won the girls discus (127-8) and Leavenworth closed with a win in the 4 X 400 relay (3:59.74).

Olathe Northwest got state titles from Jaleesa Mcwashington in the long jump (18-3) and 300 hurdles (45.79), and Maddie Righter in the high jump (5-8). Righter was also the runner-up in the 100 hurdles (15.21).

Gardner-Edgerton didn't pull ahead in the class 6A boys race until three events remained, at that time taking over from a pesky Manhattan team that was putting together another strong state meet. Gardner-Edgerton's only state title came from pole vaulter Colton Goodman (14-0), but had a runner-up finish from its 4 X 100 relay and third place finishes by Trenton Cochran in the 1600 (4:27.17) and 3200 (9:38.00), and Teven McKelvey in the triple jump (44-10.5).

CLASS 5A

Sarah Murrow won the 1600 and 3200 meter titles, and Hannah Robinson added the 800 as St. James' distance crew powered its way to the girls team title. Katie Moore was runner-up in the 1600 and third in the 400 and 800; and Robinson was the runner-up in the 400. St. James scored 87, ending a streak of three consecutive years in second place.

Bishop Carroll's girls placed second with 68 points, getting a state title from Kindel Nordhus in the 400 (57.49) and runner-up finishes from Taylor Linn in the pole vault (10-6), Hope Jackson in the 3200 (11:15.15) and Nordhus in the 100 hurdles (14.82) and 300 hurdles (43.55).

Three-time defending state champion Newton showed the heart of a champion again, but didn't quite have enough depth to get number four. Senior Kalli Anderson, who will run at Barton County Community College next year, won the 100 in a class 5A record time of 11.81 - just one-hundredth off the All-Class record - and the 200 in 24.86. Fellow senior Maggie Remsberg won the 300 hurdles in a career-best 43.36, and both ran a leg on Newton's victorious 4 X 100 relay (49.04), which won for the fourth consecutive year.

Remsberg, in particular, showed great resilience after falling in the finals of the 100 meter hurdles at regionals, failing to qualify for state. She may have won that event at state, but she put that disappointment aside to have another memorable state meet experience.

Bishop Carroll's boys weren't quite as dominating as last year, when they won the 5A boys title by 40 points, but they were plenty good again. Bishop Carroll ended with 64 points, while De Soto was the runner-up with 52. Kody Marvin won state titles in the 110 hurdles (14.80) and 300 hurdles (39.66), while Ethan Hull (16-0) and Brian Simon (15-9) placed 1-2 in the pole vault to highlight Bishop Carroll's title defense.

DeSoto got runner-up finishes from its 4 X 800 relay (8:06.59) and Sam Hubert in the 3200 (9:28.80).

CLASS 4A

Jaden Eck (12-0), Jayden Cates (11-6) and Aspen Liby (11-0) posted a 1-2-3 finish in the girls pole vault, highlighting Andale's state championship in class 4A girls. Jacy Anderson won the disus and Katelyn Fairchild (156-11) and Samantha Marx (138-7) placed 1-2 in the javelin for Andale, which scored 97.

Piper's girls scored 56 to place second, highlighted by state titles from Saniya Simmons in the long jump (17-0.5) and the 4 X 100 relay (48.36).

In addition to the dramatics in the boys' pole vault, the Andale boys' win was keyed by a runner-up finish from Mason Fairchild in the shot put (54-3.75) and a third place finish in the javelin (183-4). Andale also racked up more than a half dozen finishes in the fourth through sixth spots.

Piper was also the runner-up in class 4A boys. The squad won the 4 X 100 relay (42.89) and also got runner-up finishes from Lemoses White in the discus (170-10) and David Holmes in the 400 (51.09). Devon Marshall placed third in the 100 (11.11) and 200 (22.76).

CLASS 3A

Two teams expected to dominate took care of business in class 3A. Scott Community's boys scored 101 points to win over Smoky Valley, which had 50. Scott Community's Marshall Faurot won state titles in the pole vault (16-1), high jump (6-6) and 110 hurdles (14.62). He nearly set the All-Class record in the pole vault, seemingly clearing 17-0.25 on the way up, but nipping the bar on the way down.

Scott Community got top three finishes from Jack Thomas in the 1600 (4:25.06), Loren Faurot in the pole vault (14-0), Kaden Wren in the 400 (50.47) and its 4 X 100 and 4 X 800 relays.

Smoky Valley's Timmy Lambert was one of the biggest stars of the weekend. He thrilled the crowd with a win in the 100 meters at 10.55, then later added wins in the 200 (21.97) and as the anchor of the 4 X 100 relay (42.93). In the 300 hurdles, Lambert hit a hurdle and tripped, leaving an opening for Riley Petz of Cheney, who took advantage and held off a hard-charging Lambert. Petz finished in 39.43 while Lambert - the defending champion in the event - still broke 40 seconds, but settled for second in 39.48.

Lambert's time in the 100 meters broke a 16-year-old record held by Riley County's Jordy Nelson, who went on to football fame at Kansas State University and the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

Nemaha Central's Jacy Dalinghaus was one of the most dominating athletes of the weekend. She won state titles in the javelin (146-9), shot put (43-1.5) and discus (139-6) to key her team's win. Hannah Scott (134-8) and Hannah Macke (130-3) completed a 1-2-3 finish by Nemaha Central in the javelin. Alleigh Kramer won the 200 (25.84) and was second in the 100 (12.43) for Nemaha Central, which had 72 points.

Cheney was the girls' runner-up with 51 points, highlighted by Layne Needham, who won the 100 hurdles (14.93) and 300 hurdles (44.79), and anchored the 4 X 100 relay from third place to the gold medal (49.95). She ends her high school career with five state titles, equaling her older sister Taylor, an NAIA All American at Southwestern College who won five high school state championships for Cheney between 2011-2014.

CLASS 2A

Garden Plain's girls were a surprise winner, but perhaps they shouldn't have been. The squad scored 71.5 points in a dominating performance, led by state champions Brooke Hammonds in the 100 (12.48) and 200 (26.05), Allison Catlin in the 100 hurdles (15.78) and its 4 X 100 relay (50.05). Brianna Puetz was second in the shot put (39-1.5) and Christia Rose Gorges was third in the pole vault (9-6). Garden Plain put an exclamation on the victory, placing second in the 4 X 400 (4:09.90).

Defending champion Bennington was the runner-up in class 2A girls, scoring 57 points. Chloe Stanley won the state title in the 300 hurdles (46.76) and was fifth in the 100 hurdles (16.46) and pole vault (9-0). The squad's 4 X 800 relay also won the state title (10:05.53). Bennington did all it could to rally back, winning the 4 X 400 relay (4:07.65), but ultimately had too much ground to make up.

Stanton County's boys' needed at least a third place finish in the 4 X 400 to take the 3A boys' crown from Hillsboro, and that's exactly what they got. The six points put Stanton County's total at 48, while Hillsboro -- which did not have a team in the 4 X 400 -- settled for second with 47.

Stanton County was led by Creed Puyear's win in the long jump (22-2) and a second-place finish from its 4 X 800 relay (8:26.06). Hillsboro's Wes Shaw won the discus (173-2) and shot put (54-8.5) and Nate Hein won the pole vault (13-0), but it was just a tad short for the team win.

CLASS 1A

Kiowa County's late heroics overcame a gargantuan effort by Lincoln's distance crew. Lincoln's Jaycee Vath - the class 1A cross country champion - added state wins in the 1600 (5:23.81), 3200 (11:27.53) and 4 X 800 relay (10:03.22) and was also fourth in the 800 (2:28.58). Aubry Donley was the state champ in the 800 (2:24.15) and runner-up in the 400 (58.91). Lincoln finished with 59 points.

Kiowa County covered more events and eventually that depth won out. Sabrina Thomas' win in the discus and the 4 X 400 victory were key moments, but Kiowa County also had a runner-up finishes by Addi Heinson in the 100 (12.53) and 200 (25.94), and Hannah Melton in the pole vault (10-6); and third place finish in the 4 X 800 relay (10:31.67).

Northern Valley's boys entered the 4 X 400 relay with a slim three and one-half point lead on Hanover, with both teams entered in that event. Northern Valley was able to hold off Hanover's relentless pursuit, winning the 4 X 400 (3:29.96) for a final total of 55.5 points. Hanover placed third in the 4 X 400 (3:32.88) and finished with 48 points.

Northern Valley's march to the 1A state title was keyed by a state championship by Caden Bach in the javelin (186-0) and runner-up finishes by Nicholas Stutsman in the pole vault (13-6) and Ivan Varela in the 400 (50.44).

Hanover, which doesn't have a home track to practice on, again performed very well on the state's biggest stage. Thomas Atkins was the state champion in the 200 (22.87) and long jump (21-4.5) and runner-up in the triple jump (43-9.25) to key Hanover's runner-up finish.

Here are some of the highlights of individual performances that caught my eye this week

There were many, for sure, but here's a quick rundown of a few that weren't connected to team titles:

* Hadley Splechter of Yates Center was the only distance runner to pull off the 800-1600-3200 trifecta. He finishes his remarkable career with eight individual state titles and two relay titles. He will run at Kansas State University next year.

* Kendra Wait of Gardner-Edgerton, just a sophomore, won state titles in the shot put (42-11.75) and 100 meters (12.04), and was the runner-up in the pole vault (11-6) and fourth in the 200 (25.67). With Friday's schedule being moved to Saturday, that's a very busy day on Saturday.

Belle Peters of Smoky Valley also had a busy weekend, nabbing the 3A record in the pole vault (12-8) and placing second in the 100 hurdles (15.33), and sixth in the long jump (16-0) and 100 (12.62).

* Nobody will remember that Dhakiya Blake false-started in her first-ever race at the state championships, the 100 meter dash. That's because the Leavenworth freshman showed tremendous poise in coming back a few hours later and winning the 400 in a state-best time of 56.92. She was also the class 6A runner-up in the 200 (25.00).

Blake's win in the 400 came against a great field that included seven girls under 1:00, including teammate Wynter Ramos who was third in 58.26.

* Wichita South's Deron Dudley gave a remarkable farewell performance in winning the class 6A 100 (10.61) and the 200 (22.08). He also ran the anchor on South's third place 4 X 100 relay (42.78).

Several other sprinters lit up the Cessna Stadium crowd, including Rossville's Trevor Johnson and Woodrow Rezac, who placed 1-2 in the 100 (11.02 and 11.20); and Jordan Hawkins of Buhler in the 100 (10.65, a class 4A state record).

* Chapman swept the 1600 and 3200 meter titles for boys and girls. Sophomore Taylor Briggs improved her state record to 6-0 in cross country and track and field when she swept those events for the second year in a row. Senior Aaron Modrow followed suit, leading virtually from start to finish in both races to close out his career on top of the state podium.

* Osborne's Darrien Holloway won the class 1A boys 110 hurdles in 14.91. His win helped keep his team in the team race early, but ultimately the squad couldn't overcome the absence of his brother Darnell Holloway, who was injured at regionals the week before.

* Frankfort's Emilee Ebert won the 1A girls long jump (17-4.75) and ran the anchor leg on the squad's winning 4 X 100 relay, which set a class 1A record of 50.44.

* Manhattan's boys were not able to defend their 6A title, but they were right in it until the end. The Indians got state titles from Sam Hankins in the javelin (209-0), Darius O Connell in the discus (53-1.75) and Daniel Harkin in the 3200 (9:30.22). Harkin also placed third in No. 1 singles at the state tennis championships two weeks ago.

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