There's very little guesswork involved when selecting All-State teams in track and field.
Track and field athletes know that this sport will make you bare your soul. When you're in competition, it's often you against your will that determines how well you will do.
And ultimately, there's very little room for debate on how you measure up. The clock or the measuring tape tells you pretty clearly if each effort was your best, or something less than your best.
That's why selecting All-State teams is not much of a science. For the most part, you go with the best times or distances or heights in naming the top track and field athletes in Kansas.
With that in mind, I get the honor of announcing Kansas MileSplit's 2019 Track and Field All-State teams.
I have given special consideration to when and where each athlete's top times/distance/height was achieved, and to those who won state titles (especially when they did so with a season-best mark). And I have listed each athlete only once, even though there are a handful who could have made it in multiple event categories.
We published the girls All-State teams yesterday. Today, the guys are up:
2019 Kansas Boys All-State Track and Field
In 2019, the field events large dominated the show for Kansas' boys. The state had at least one performer listed in the U.S. Top 25 rankings in five of seven field events, including the No. 1 javelin thrower in the country for much of the season (Sam Hankins of Manhattan). But the sprinters continued to thrill crowds across the state, with 63 boys recording a personal best under 11 seconds this season.
My comments: Timmy Lambert and Jaleel Montgomery are both great choices for the sprints and the hurdles, but I had to put them on one or the other. Montgomery was third at state in the 200, but won the 110 hurdles, so that seemed like a more appropriate spot for him. The 400 meter specialists are getting a little more love from me on this year's sprint teams because their times stack up a little stronger in the national rankings. Hadley Splechter lived up to the hype, winning three more state titles, and even though his times at state aren't faster than distance runners in the higher classes, he's still widely considered to be the best high school distance runner in Kansas. Hankins, Shaw and Everett had the state's No. 1 throws in the javelin, discus and shot put this year; Hankins is ranked No. 1 nationally, Shaw is No. 21 and Everett is No. 15. That group makes it pretty tough for any other throwers to get on the first team this year.
If I Could Pick 5 Athletes to Start a Team, I'd Take...
* Timmy Lambert, Smoky Valley. He's electric. He's got a great attitude. He's fast. And he can cover all of the sprints, hurdles and relays, if needed. What more can I say?
* Marshall Faurot, Scott Community. He was the state champion in the 110 hurdles, and had the entire state meet crowd's attention when he just missed at a state record 17-0.25 in the pole vault. He actually cleared the bar going up, but nipped it with his jersey on the way down. There's not a coach out there who wouldn't drool over Faurot's athleticism. He was on my Pick 5 team last year and I sure ain't giving up on him this year.
* Hadley Splechter, Yates Center. Another obvious choice, in my view. Quiet and unassuming, Splechter wrapped up a marvelous career with three more state titles - pushing his total to 10 in cross country and track and field. He just flat out likes to compete when he's out on the track.
* Wesley Shaw, Hillsboro. He's Mr. Steady in the discus and the shot put, rarely having an off day. He is the state's best in the shot put this year, and is ranked No. 21 in the United States. Yeah, I think he'd hold down the throws pretty well for my team.
* Hunter Jones, Nickerson. Why Jones over the others who have cleared 6-10 in the high jump this season? Well, because Jones is Mr. Versatility, having also competed this past season in both hurdle events, long jump, triple jump, javelin and shot put. He's very likely to be a decathlete at the next level. He was second at state this year in the javelin (187-0) and fifth in the 300 hurdles (39.86) in addition to winning the high jump (6-10).
Kansas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year
Timmy Lambert, Smoky Valley. An easy choice, even though Scott Community's Marshall Faurot made the decision a little tougher. You know well enough that Lambert is fire on the track, capturing three more state titles at this year's championships.
But, it was the one event he didn't win, that was his most impressive race. He crashed into the second to last hurdle in the 300 meter event, fell, gathered himself, and took off again. Riley Petz of Cheney took advantage of the opening to win the race in 39.43, but the hard-charging Lambert would have caught him if the race were another five meters long. Lambert finished in 39.48.
Here's the thing about Lambert: He's one of those few athletes that you stop and want to watch when he's on the track. You're not sure what he's going to do, and you want to make sure you don't miss it. He put up career best times this season in the 100 (10.53), 200 (21.55) and 110 hurdles (15.10).
And good news for track and field fans in the state: He's headed for Kansas State University in the fall, so we will all get to watch his future development up close.