2023 KSHSAA State Preview: 5A

With the defending champions in Mill Valley now up in 6A, this division is due for some new champions. Class 5A has a pair of strong favorites for the boys and girls divisions, but the rest of the podium will be a wild battle. Kapaun Mt. Carmel's boys and St James Academy's girls qualified everything they needed to for a healthy state performance. The rest of the trophies are up for grabs, with Maize, Andover Central, Hays, Bishop Carroll and St. Thomas Aquinas battling on the boys side and Great Bend, Kapaun, Carroll, Andover and Hutchinson for the girls.

MileSplit's Picks: The Kapaun boys and St James girls

Among the individuals that will make some noise, Annalisa Cullens might be the most electric. The Hutchinson senior is one of the most explosive athletes in the country coming out of the blocks, and has lethal form over the hurdles. She'll be a force in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Her competition will feature Ark City's  Savannah Phillips. The two are just a handful of multi-event scorers in 5A this year.

DeSoto brings in Ella Capling in the long and triple jumps. She'll be a force on the runway worth watching all weekend. Maize senior Margarette Salsbury could give her a run in the long jump, though. She leapt to a huge PR at regionals and is the top seed entering this weekend.

5A Boys Rankings    |    5A Girls Rankings

Kapaun Mt. Carmel has a few good sprinters, all led by Lillian Harris. She will be in action for the 100, 200, 400, and 4x400, with the capability of winning all four for the Crusaders. The Capital City will throw everything they have at her, with Ta'mijha Nicholls of Shawnee Heights in the 100 and Ala'Jah Brooks of Topeka West in the 400.

In the distance events, Seaman's Bethany Druse is one of the state's best in the 800. She will battle Isabella Ross of Blue Valley Southwest. Ross and Salina Central's Katelyn Rupe will battle in the 1600, and those two will battle the entire St James team in the 3200.

In the throws, there are a couple specialists worth noting. Mariah Noel of Bonner Springs is a remarkable discus thrower. Meanwhile, Kaylee Brown of Maize South & Aiyanna Green of Hutchinson will have a fun battle in the shot put ring. Lastly, the Olivia Vanderweide (Basehor-Linwood) and Kylie Brockman (Piper) will rematch in the javelin after a close finish last week.

The high jump, pole vault, and relays are all too close to call on the girls' side, so if you're looking for exciting finishes, those are the ones to keep an eye on.

Alex Waldie is the latest Aquinas runner to star in 5A
(Photo by J. Hobson)

For the boys, the entire Hays field event squad is fun to watch. If you see their maroon jersey, expect to be entertained. Basehor-Linwood will be represented well in the jumps with Tyson Ruud and Brant Wilson. Lansing's Jamale Williams is head and shoulders above the rest of the throwers, and may even challenge the 5A discus record.

Bryce Barkdull will look to topple his brother's 5A Pole Vault record. The Andover Central junior already holds the all-time Kansas record, so keep an eye on the vault runway for his black and gold jersey. His teammate, Brandt Stupka, is a factor in the triple-jump as well.

KSHSAA State Meet Records

On the track, many of the best sprinters in all classes will go head-to-head. Isaac Ativie (Leavenworth), Tre Richardson (Highland Park), Bryce Cohoon (Maize) and Jack Guthridge (Kapaun Mt Carmel) will all have title hopes in one of the three sprints. For our hurdlers, Luke Holthusen of Bishop Carroll is the one to watch.

St. James has some really solid relays in the 4x400 and 4x800. In the right conditions, they could break 5A meet records in either one. Hays has been the best 4x100 team so far this season.

Grant Pierce of Wichita Heights is one of the nation's top wheelchair athletes, keep an eye out for him when those races come up.

Aquinas senior Alex Waldie will attempt the tough 400 + 800 double. Getting through regionals on the shorter rest is arguably the most difficult part of that, though, and he passed that trial with flying colors.

Among the longer distance events, things are closer than we typically see. Topeka West's Lenny Njoroge has come into form late in the season, and is the slight favorite entering this weekend.

Class 5A will begin with the afternoon session on Friday, May 26.