2019 Kansas Girls All-State Track and Field
In 2019, Kansas' girls included some incredible sprinters, as well as a host of multi-event performers that showed that you can have success on the track and the field - and at a very high level. Several seniors said farewell in remarkable fashion, but we also got a good look at numerous freshmen and sophomores who make up the next wave of Kansas standouts.
My comments: The sprints were loaded among Kansas girls, so you can find some pretty great athletes all the way down to honorable mention in my listing. The toughest categories for me to pick were the hurdles and the throws for two reasons: There were a lot of girls who deserved all-state recognition, but also there is a discrepancy between girls who are really good in one of the events, but maybe not the other. Kendra Wait is a great all-around athlete, having finished first in the class 6A 100 meters and second in the pole vault - how's that for a combination? Her versatility allowed me to create an extra spot in those event categories for others.
If I Could Pick 5 Athletes to Start a Team, I'd Take...
* Dhakiya Blake and Wynter Ramos, Leavenworth - I know, that's two for one, but I'd definitely want the dynamic 1-2 punch from Leavenworth, who are remarkable in the 100, 200, 400 and the two sprint relays. My only stress with putting these two on the track would be determining which four events they would run.
* Kendra Wait, Gardner-Edgerton - A no-brainer, right? When you have the versatility that the dynamic sophomore has, you are going to be in high demand. She may have a great future as a college heptathlete.
* Jacy Dalinghaus, Nemaha Central - Top three in Kansas in the shot put, discus and javelin, and class 3A state champion in all three of those events. She's also ranked No. 22 in the javelin in the United States. She finished her high school career in May with five state titles - two in the javelin and discus, and one in the shot put.
* Jaleesa McWashington, Olathe Northwest - She's the best long jumper in the state, No. 4 in the triple jump and pulled out a thrilling win in the finals of the class 6A 300 hurdles. I like her grit and consistency; she had a remarkable 2019 season.
* Clara Mayfield, Manhattan and Jaybe Shufelberger, Washburn Rural - I'm cheating again. These two will more than adequately cover the middle distance and distance races for my team - having put up the state's top two times in the 1600 and 3200 this season. Shufelberger won the class 6A 800 and 3200 this season, while Mayfield took the 1600.
Kansas Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year
Kalli Anderson, Newton. If you look only at the just-completed season, maybe - just maybe - someone gets close to what Anderson accomplished. But no one has had the four-year career that the Newton senior put together.
Looking at results in the Kansas MileSplit database, Anderson never finished lower than second place in the finals of the 100 meters during her high school career, amassing a record of 28 wins and five second place finishes.
She also never finished lower than second place in the finals of the 100 meters or 200 meters at the class 5A state championships, winning state titles in the 100 in 2017 and 2019; and the 200 meters in 2019.
Anderson also ran on Newton's winning 4 X 100 relays in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, but it was her anchor leg at this year's regionals that perhaps signified her heart as much as anything. Newton's third runner, Natalia Varpness, suffered a broken hip and barely got the baton to Anderson - in fifth place and well behind the final qualifying spot for state.
Video replays show only four runners battling to the finish, but near the end, Anderson flashed into the screen to snag the fourth - and final - qualifying spot for her team.
Through all the successes, a fourth place finish at regionals was one of the brightest moments of Kalli Anderson's career. Given one more week to run, Newton won the state title running from the slower of two heats during the rain-shortened state meet.
Anderson was her team's top point scorer as Newton rolled to state titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018. They were third as a team this past spring, just missing on a grand slam for the senior.
She will run next year at Barton County Community College.