Kansas Relays are underway; Baker wins the javelin

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NOTE: The following story recaps the Friday morning session of high school events at the 91st annual Kansas Relays. To read Kansas Milesplit's coverage of Friday's afternoon session, click here.

The high school events are underway at the 91st annual Kansas Relays at Rock Chalk Park, and the first win of the meet has gone to a Kansas athlete.

Olathe North's Dana Baker, the No. 1 ranked javelin thrower in the United States as of this week, won by more than 20 feet with a throw of 166-6. Baker had three throws greater than 160 feet, and all six of her throws in the prelims and finals were better than every other thrower in the field.


Kansas athletes did well in the event, however. Madison Lueger of Centralia was a solid second in the event, throwing 145-0, while Kayla Kurtz of Baldwin placed fourth with a toss of 139-4.


Also in the top 8, Jacy Dalinghaus of Nemaha Central placed fifth with a throw of 134-8, and Katy Commons of Andale was sixth at 132-7.


Friday morning's field events included finals in the boys' high jump, triple jump and discus, as well as the girls' pole vault and triple jump.

The girls' pole vault provided high drama, with four girls clearing 11-11 3/4. Samantha VanHoecke of Paola forged a first-place tie with Katie Schumer of Jackson (Mo.); both were clean on all of their attempts through the winning height.

The girls' pole vault also provided a nice introduction for Smoky Valley freshman Belle Peters, a rising star who had cleared 11-11 in middle school. She cleared 11-11 3/4 Friday, but settled for fourth place at the Kansas Relays based on misses.

Tyler Palic of Marion moved to No. 44 in the U.S. rankings when he recorded a career-best throw of 179-8 in the boys' discus throw, finishing third at this year's Relays. The event featured the U.S. No. 1 thrower in Moore (Okla.) standout Patrick Larrison, who won the event with a new career-best -- and nation-leading -- throw of 197-5. Matt Everett of Winfield placed fifth with a throw of 175-0, which puts him at No. 64 in the U.S. rankings.


Shawnee Heights Michael Hoffer, who has cleared 7-0 ¼ in the high jump this year - the fourth best jump in the United States this spring - struggled early, and it cost him in the boys' high jump. Shawnee Mission West's Jack Durst and Hoffer both cleared 6-8, but Durst got the win based on fewer misses.

Sydney Johnson of Beloit, who has the best throw among Kansas athletes in the discus this season (150-0), placed third at the Kansas relays with a mark of 145-6. She was the only Kansas girl in the top 19 of the event.


Jessie Stindt of Shawnee Mission East placed second in the girls' triple jump at 39-6 3/4, while Kayla Smith of Valley Heights -- a three-time state champion in that event -- placed fourth with a leap of 38-2 1/4.

Cameron Key of Bishop Miege, the Kansas class 4A champion in 2017, was the top Kansas finisher in the boys' triple jump, nabbing seventh place with a leap of 45-11 3/4.


Field events and prelims in the hurdles and 100 meter sprints were the focus of Friday's morning session, but there was one high school track final in the morning.


Blue Valley North's Sophie Scott, the class 6A state champion in the 800 meters and runner-up in the 1600 last year, turned in the fastest split among all competitors, pulling her team from fifth place to finish third in the girls 4 X 1600 meter relay. Scott's time was 5:10.


Manhattan's Clara Mayfield had the second fastest split in the event, turning a 5:14 on the anchor leg to pull her team from sixth place to fifth overall.

In the preliminary heats of the boys' 110 high hurdles, Caney Valley's Tyler Watts -- who has the top time in Kansas this year at 14.25 -- posted the second-fastest qualifying time into Saturday's finals. Watts won his heat with a time of 14.38. Joseph Holthusen of Bishop Carroll had the third fastest qualifying time to finals, clocking 14.60.

Layne Needham of Cheney and Abby Smarsh of Andale were the only two Kansas girls to qualify for the girls' 100 meter hurdle finals on Saturday.

In the prelims of the girls' 100 meter dash, Leavenworth senior Aarika Lister was on fire. She posted the top qualifying time at 11.86, winning the fifth heat. Lister was the class 5A state champion in the 100 and 200 in 2015 and 2016, but was slowed by injuries last year. She's definitely back, and her time in the prelims Friday -- even though it's wind-aided -- is the second fastest in Kansas this season.

Lister's time in the preliminaries was faster than all but one of the winners of the six heats of the college women's 100 meter dash preliminaries that immediately followed the high school event.

In the prelims of the girls' 400 meter dash, Emily Ervin of Blue Valley Southwest clocked the third fastest qualifying time to finals in 58.20, and Lawrence's Evann Seratte had the fifth best time to finals, 59.58.

Austin Mullins of Liberal and Hayden Goodpaster of Shawnee Mission Northwest qualified for the finals of the boys' 400 meter dash.


The afternoon session includes the expected return of Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Molly Born, a two-time class 6A state champion in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. Born has not raced in an individual event since a stress fracture shortened her 2017 season in early May. She will race in the finals of the 3200 meter run, scheduled for 12:55 p.m.; Born placed second in that event a year ago with a time of 10:10.64, which at the time was one of the top 5 times in the United States.


The 91st annual Kansas Relays is being broadcast live on Flotrack at http://live.flotrack.org/#/event/4424-2018-kansas-relays. Live results are also available from FloTrack at https://results.flotrack.org/?mid=1397.