The class 5A Kansas Track and Field championships are
defined largely by its dominant teams.
St. Thomas Aquinas is the defending champion in the boys
division, and is a heavy favorite to win again this year. That's a significant
statement, considering that Leavenworth and Liberal have powerful boys' teams,
Newton's girls, also the defending champs, are electric in
the sprints and relays, but Pittsburg and St. James Academy are strong enough
to keep the team chase interesting.
It leaves the rest of class 5A grasping for individual
titles. Leavenworth star sprinter Aarika Lister, 2016 champion in the 100 and
200, is back after nursing injuries for much of the season. She won the 100
meters at the region 8 meet, but finished second to Sumner Academy standout
Demitra Carter in the 200. Carter has moved up from 4A, where she won the 300
hurdles title last year.
Boys - St. Thomas Aquinas
Girls - Newton, Pittsburg, St. James Academy
Events that I'm
excited to see
Girls 300 hurdles. Taylor Muff of Pittsburg has dominated
class 5A, but now she goes up against another superstar - Demitra Carter of
Sumner Academy, who won the 4A state title in the event last year. Muff has a
season best of 46.50, while Carter's best this year is 47.35, though both have
run low to mid-45's at state in past years. Carter was a regional champion in
the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, and 200; and runner-up in the 100.
Boys 400 meters. Teammates Dusty Torres and Austin Mullins
of Liberal head the field, but we could see as many as six class 5A athletes
break 50 seconds in the finals.
Boys 4 X 800 meter relay. Pittsburg leads class 5A with a
time of 8:05.90, but Blue Valley Southwest, Mill Valley and St. Thomas Aquinas
have run 8:07 to 8:08 this season. This is eight laps of
Boys javelin. Five guys have thrown between 190 and 195 feet
this season, so there should be a lot of drama well into the finals of this
Girls 100 and 200. These two events will pit last year's
state champ - Leavenworth's Aarika Lister - against a duo that has dominated
Kansas girls sprints this year - Newton's Kalli Anderson and Savannah Simmons. Add
in Sumner Academy's Carter and the class 5A records in the 100 (11.90) and 200
(24.32) are in jeopardy.
champions (with current grade level)
100 - Aarika Lister, Leavenworth
200 - Aarika Lister, Leavenworth
100 hurdles - Taylor Muff, Pittsburg
300 hurdles - Taylor Muff, Pittsburg
300 hurdles -- Demitra Carter, Sumner Academy (4A)
Discus - Taylor Latimer, Valley Center
High jump - Megan Eckman, Mill Valley
Pole vault - Hannah Buller, Goddard
* Kassidy Johnson of Maize South won the 400, 800 and 1600
in 2016, but is now competing in class 4A
200 - Dusty Torres, Liberal
400 - Austin Mullins, Liberal
800 - Connar Southard, Pittsburg
1600 - Hunter Henderson, Shawnee Heights
3200 - Will Cole, St. Thomas Aquinas
100 hurdles - Noah Green, St. Thomas Aquinas
300 hurdles -- Noah Green, St. Thomas Aquinas
High jump - Michael Hoffer, Shawnee Heights
2016 Team Champions
Boys - St. Thomas Aquinas
Girls - Newton
How many ways can I say repeat? Well, possibly two ways, as
in St. Thomas Aquinas Repeat, and Newton Repeat.
In normal years, Leavenworth and Liberal would be strong
contenders for the boys championship - and I suppose St. Thomas Aquinas could
have a very bad weekend, but I don't see that happening with the Saints' loaded
roster. That said, Leavenworth and Liberal are pretty exciting to watch and
they will heighten the fan experience at state this year.
Newton's girls have dominated in the sprints and relays all
season long, and they're good enough to do it at state, as well. Anderson and
Simmons placed second and third in the 100 and 200 last year, and if
Leavenworth's Lister isn't fully recovered from her early-season injuries,
those two could sweep the two sprints. It's hard to see Newton losing either
the 4 X 100 or 4 X 400 relays, and sophomore Maggie Remsberg could beat Pittsburg's Muff and Sumner
Academy's Carter in either or both hurdle events.