CLASS 6A TRACK AND FIELD PREVIEW: Junction City girls, Hutch boys eye state title repeat

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As the Junction City girls track and field team roared back from 43 points on the last day to grab the Class 6A state title last year, one could guess they had two messages of inspiration for their followers:

Never give up, and....We'll see you next year!


Junction City's mammoth comeback over the last three hours of the 2017 state meet was powered largely by underclassmen who will lead the Blue Jays' bid to repeat as champions this year.


That includes silky-smooth hurdler Kiena Newman, who swept state titles in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles last year as a sophomore. Newman is easily the best female hurdler in Kansas entering the new season, and it's hard to see that anyone could challenge her stranglehold on the state's hurdling supremacy.


Senior teammate Lyric Holman also will be back with her eyes on winning gold in the 100, 200 and 400. She could be in the top three in all of those events, and along with Newman and senior Alana Kramer, gives her team a great shot at putting together some speedy relays.


Senior Hannah Reynolds enters the 2018 season as the No. 1 ranked discus thrower in Class 6A girls, and she should also score points for Junction City in the shot put.


The list of challengers to Junction City's crown are many, though it seems to stack up around four teams: Hutchinson, Blue Valley North, Shawnee Mission Northwest, and Shawnee Mission East.


Hutchinson put together a solid performance at last year's state meet, before settling for third place. Senior Jana Wren and junior Morgan Armburst are top 3 contenders in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and will key their teams' chances at a state title this year.


Blue Valley North has a stable of distance runners capable of putting up 30-40 points at the state meet. Leading that charge is senior Sophie Scott, who was the state champion in the 800 and runner-up in the 1600 last year. Juniors Anna Martin and Lily Strauss should score well in the 1600 and 3200, and Blue Valley North should also get solid points from senior Lillian Schenk in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.


Shawnee Mission Northwest will have one of the more interesting storylines to watch as the season unfolds. They are definitely a state title contender if senior Molly Born is back to full strength after missing the end of last track season and all of the 2017 cross country season with a stress fracture.


Born rose to a top 10 U.S. ranking in the mile, and top 6 in the two mile after a pair of battles last spring with fellow Kansas standouts Cailie Logue of Girard and Emily Venters of Lawrence Free State. Born was the two-time defending champion in the 1600 and 3200 last year until the injury prevented her from running at the state meet. She is also a two-time state cross country champion.


Shawnee Mission Northwest coach Van Rose, who will retire after this season, says it's hard to know how Born will bounce back this season after taking five months off from running. But if she resembles anything close to her former self, Born should again rise to the top of Class 6A girls distance running this spring. And that would definitely put Shawnee Mission Northwest smack dab in the middle of the chase for a team title.


Shawnee Mission Northwest's Abigail Kelly-Salo, a senior, was second at state last year in the pole vault, and is the top-ranked returner this season. Senior teammate Sarah Petersen heads into the year with the second-best mark among returners in Class 6A girls shot put.


Shawnee Mission East covers a lot of events well, highlighted by senior Ingrid Worth in the 1600 and 3200; senior Jessie Stindt in the triple jump, long jump and high jump; and junior Destiny Ray in the 100 and 200. Stindt is the defending state champion in the triple jump.


Among individuals, you don't want to miss watching Christal Mosley of Wichita Southeast in the 200 and 400. She won both of those events at state last year, the latter by a mere one-hundredths of a second over Hutchinson's Yazmine Wright in what was my pick as the most exciting race of the 2018 state championships.


Shawnee Mission Northwest's boys get the nod as the preseason favorite to win the Class 6A boys state title, based on returning numerous state meet scorers from last year's team.


Senior Zhanarden Vil is the No. 1 ranked returner in the triple jump, and No. 4 in the long jump. Hayden Goodpaster, also a senior, was the state runner-up at 400 meters a year, and should also score well in the 200. Junior Ben Harrell and senior Michael Scott are top five contenders in the 1600 and 3200 meters.


In field events, Shawnee Mission Northwest has just about all of them covered. Senior Travis Morrison was the state runner-up last year in the shot put; seniors Seth Mosburg and Jonathan Sommerfeld are top-five returners in the pole vault. In the javelin, senior Kaden Bower and junior Austin Heinish are state medal contenders, as is senior Reid Stimach in the discus.


Hutchinson is the defending champion in Class 6A boys, returning some bona fide stars in several events. Senior Hunter Degarmo was the state runner-up in the discus, and is the top returner in that event this year. Tayezhan Crough, a sophomore, has the second-best time in the 110 hurdles among this year's returners.


Hutchinson's repeat bid also will be keyed by senior Trey Jones (triple jump), junior Davian Vigil (100 and 200), and senior Jaydon Baker (400).


Garden City returns two state champions, hoping to improve its fourth place finish at state last year. Junior Ruben Huerta will try to repeat as state champion in the pole vault, and junior Demarcus Elliott will try to defend his title in the shot put. Senior Garrett Doll is the top returner in the 1600 meters, and has the third best time among returners in the 800.


Gardner-Edgerton is a darkhorse pick, but is capable with distance runner Trent Cochran, a junior, leading the way. He was the state champion in cross country last fall, and could be in the top 2 or 3 in both the 1600 and 3200 this spring.


Manhattan was second at state last year, highlighted by state titles from freshman Sam Hankins in the javelin (he was the only freshman state champ in class 6A last year), and junior Ko Saito in the 110 hurdles. However Saito - a Japanese exchange student who won the title on his birthday - has returned to Japan for his senior season.


Among the individuals in Class 6A boys track and field, don't blink when Wichita South senior Phillip Landrum hits the track. He was Kansas' fastest man at last year's track and field championships, winning the 100 and 200 in times of 10.65 and 21.73. Derby's Adrian Brown, now a senior, was runner-up to Saito in the 110 hurdles, then edged the Manhattan hurdler for the title in the 300 hurdles.


Class 6A girls returning state champions


100 - Jada Davis, Blue Valley West

200 - Christal Mosley, Wichita Southeast

400 - Moseley, Wichita Southeast

800 - Sophie Scott, Blue Valley North

1600 - Molly Born, Shawnee Mission Northwest (2016)

3200 - Born, Shawnee Mission Northwest (2016)

100 hurdles - Kiena Newman, Junction City

300 hurdles - Newman, Junction City

High jump - Maddi Righter, Olathe Northwest

Long jump - Bailey Turner, Olathe East

Triple jump - Jessie Stindt, Shawnee Mission East

Javelin - Dana Baker, Olathe North


Class 6A boys returning state champions*


100 - Phillip Landrum, Wichita South

200 - Landrum, Wichita South

400 - Julian Lacey, Olathe Northwest

800 - Brandon Clark, Olathe North

300 hurdles - Adrian Brown, Derby

Pole vault - Ruben Huerta, Garden City

Triple jump - Federico Harvey, Campus

Shot put - Demarcus Elliott, Garden City

Javelin - Sam Hankins, Manhattan


* Note: Ko Saito of Manhattan, a Japanese exchange student, won the 110 hurdles as a junior, but has returned to Japan for his senior season.