The door is open for someone else in 2023, though. Will it be Katelyn Rupe and Salina Central? How about last year's runner-up, Great Bend? Kapaun Mt. Carmel could make a run on both sides, but the boys need to get through a tough Hays team. Don't forget about St. Thomas Aquinas, either!
Lillian Harris from Kapaun is the one to beat in the sprints. She returns as 100/200 champ from 2022. Victoria Reed also returns to defend her 400m crown for Highland Park.
Speaking of Highland Park, Tre Richardson is an athletic specimen. He's the defending 200m champ, was runner-up to a senior in last year's triple jump, and could easily score in the long jump and 400 as well. Jeremiah Smith from across town at Shawnee Heights holds the top 100m time at the moment.
Along with Richardson, the boys jumps have plenty of athletes. Andover's Tayton Klein is the returning champion for the long jump. Andover Central brings Bryce Barkdull in the pole valut and Brandt Stupka in the triple. Blue Valley Southwest has stellar vault program, while Hays scores well in the horizontal jumps behind Kyreese Groen.
On the girls' side, Mykayla Cunningham of Salina Central and Valarie Luna of Great Bend are some of the state's best high jumpers. Ella Capling of DeSoto brings an elite long-triple combo, and the pole vault is anyone's guess.
Aarion Pickens from Leavenworth is far and away the best shot putter. She burst onto the scene to win 5A last year. Mariyah Noel returns as Discus champion for Bonner Springs, and Sophia Gimino reigns in the javelin for Kapaun. Basehor-Linwood's Brenna Lynn is another one to watch. She went crazy at UKC last year in the discus/javelin but was unable to follow that up at state.
Hays knows throws, too, with Grayson Walburn and Wyatt Waddell contending in the Discus & Javelin respectively. Kapaun's Jackson Daniel holds a slim edge in the javelin, though, while Lansing's Jamale Williams will be tough to beat in the shot/disc.
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Katelyn Rupe is the big story in the distance events. The Salina Central star owns the 1600/3200 crowns already, but has yet to invade the 800. Bethany Druse of Seaman will be tough to beat in that one as she's the defending champ and has gone 2:15.
Alex Waldie from Aquinas is a terror with the rare 400/800 combo. He will look to defend his 800 crown and improve on his 3rd place 400 finish. Meanwhile, there's a little more uncertainty in the 1600/3200. We'll give the early nod to Colby King after his XC season, though.
Many of the state's best graduated on the boys' side. Shawnee Heights brings back Jeremiah Smith, who is a big time hurdler that will be hungry after missing the latter half of the 2022 season.
Great Bend's Makenzie Premer is one to watch now that Quincy Hubert has departed for 6A. She has the top 300 hurdle time and #2 high-hurdle time. McKinlee Walker of Andover will look to comeback in the 100 hurdles after stumbling in last year's final.
There were lots of senior-laden teams in the boys 4x100 last year. Only Hays brings back more than 2 from last year's final, and they return everyone. St James will have an all-senior 4x400 that may challenge the state record. Meanwhile, any number of teams could emerge with a 4x800.
Great Bend returns their entire girls' 4x100 and 4x400, so they'll be tough to beat. They were 4x400 champs last year and 3rd in the 4x100. St James, meanwhile, returns their entire 4x800 from last year's title team.