Tough road for South Gray boys, Centralia girls to repeat

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If you like roller-coaster rides, then you're going to love this year's Kansas class 1A state track and field championships. Both the boys' and girls' team races are likely to be up-and-down plenty during the two-day meet.


South Gray's boys are the defending state champions. Yet, while they posted a dominating 28 point win a year ago, this year's title will most certainly be a bit closer. South Gray was hit with key graduation losses that have essentially made their work a bit more difficult this year.


They do have a pretty sure thing in senior Gilbert Peters, however. Peters is a strong favorite to repeat as state champion in the discus and shot put. He has not only dominated the class 1A ranks in both of those events, he is also No. 2 in Kansas in the shot put (58-3) and No. 4 statewide in the discus (177-9).


Senior Craig Griebel also is back for South Gray, and is the pre-meet favorite in the 200 meters. He's also a top three contender in the 100 and 400, and will probably run the anchor on South Gray's 4 X 400 relay, which has the top time in class 1A this season.


But Centralia and Beloit-St. John can match South Gray's power this year.


Centralia's Dylan Boeckman is the pre-meet favorite to win the 300 hurdles and the pole vault, and also should medal in the 110 hurdles. Senior teammate Josh Hasenkamp is the favorite in the javelin and No. 2 in the pole vault.


Centralia should also score well in the 4 X 100 and 4 X 400 relays, and junior Daegan Steinlage has a shot at winning the discus, and placing top 5 in the shot put.


Beloit-St. John does its work in the distance events, and in fact could get more than 50 points in events from 800 meters on up. Senior David Lutgen, the class 1A cross country champ, is a strong favorite in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs, and Adam Bates is No. 2 in the division in the 1600 and No. 4 in the 800.


Brandon Bates and Caleb Eilert - both running in their first state meet - add to Beloit-St. John's strength in the 1600 and 3200. Also, sophomore Brady Palen is a state title contender in the high jump.


Among other individuals on the boys' side, Lane Peters of Pike Valley is the defending state champion in the 100 and 200, but he has had something of a down year. It's not clear whether it's due to injury, but if he's healthy, he's the one to watch in the short sprints again. If he's not, one to look for is Victoria's Collin Kisner, who also could win the 400 meters this weekend.


The chase for the class 1A girls team title appears to be a three-way battle between Hanover, Axtell and defending champion Centralia.


Hanover just about won the title a year ago, before Centralia snagged it away in the last event of the meet. This year, they've got plenty of starpower back for another run at the state championship.


Junior Macy Doebele is the pre-meet favorite in the triple jump, and is ranked No. 2 in class 1A in the long jump. Senior Claire Zarybnicky could win the 800, and is No. 4 ranked in the 1600. Hanover also traditionally has strong relays, and should be in the top 4 in each of those three events.


Axtell, too, is strong in the relays, but they've got a star distance runner who could be the difference-maker in the team race. Sophomore Olivia Kuckelman has the top time for the 1600 meters in class 1A this season, and is No. 2 in the 3200.


Centralia's bid to repeat is led by junior javelin thrower Madison Lueger (ranked No. 1 in class 1A) and junior pole vaulter Breanna Schmitz (ranked No. 1 in the pole vault). Schmitz was the state champion in the pole vault as a freshman, and finished second last year.


Centralia should also score solid points with sophomore sprinter Morgan Kramer, and long jumper Kennedy Becker. The squad also has 4 X 100 and 4 X 400 relays that could be in the top 3.


Highlighting the tight team race on the girls side: There are 12 schools that are projected to score at least 24 points in this year's meet. It opens the possibility that one great performance or one slip-up by the top contenders could mean a different set of teams taking home state hardware.


Among individuals, Sylvan-Lucas sophomore Autumn Princ is among the brightest stars in class 1A. She has won 4 of 5 state races that she has run in her short career, including two state cross country championships. She also won the 1600 and 3200 at state last year, and is a solid bet to repeat that feat this year.


Princ and senior teammate Logan Batchman, a top 3 contender in the shot put and discus, could help their school challenge for a spot on the podium.


Princ, though, will have to deal with a very tough runner in Ashland junior Paige Harris, who has the top time in the 800 meters for class 1A this season. Harris, who previously had run for Fowler, was second to Princ in the 1600 and 3200 last year, and has shown solid improvement this season.



Class 1A Girls defending state champions

100 hurdles - Rachel Miller, Lakeside

300 hurdles - Paige Baird, Northern Valley

400 - Baird, Northern Valley

800 - Claire Zarybnicky, Hanover

1600 - Autumn Princ, Sylvan-Lucas

3200 - Princ, Sylvan-Lucas

High jump - Shelby Ohlde, Linn

Pole vault - Avery Gates, Beloit-St. Johns

Triple jump - Brianna Vogts, Olpe

Javelin - Madison Lueger, Centralia


2017 Team Champs -- Centralia


Class 1A Boys defending state champions

100 - Lane Peters, Pike Valley

200 - Peters, Pike Valley

300 hurdles - Dylan Boeckman, Centralia

400 - Collin Kisner, Victoria

Pole vault - Boeckman, Centralia

Shot put - Gilbert Peters, South Gray

Discus - Peters, South Gray


2017 Team Champs - South Gray