Sprint Showdown looms in Class 5A track and field

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There will be more than 2,000 athletes competing in 216 events at this week's Kansas Track and Field championships, but perhaps most of the sports' junkies are focused on just one 12-second period of time.

The finals of the class 5A girls 100 meter dash.


It's a gigantic showdown between the state's top three sprinters in Newton's Kalli Anderson and Savannah Simmons, against Leavenworth's Aarika Lister.


Week-by-week, they have thrown down fast times, sometimes waiting only a few days before exchanging the top time in the state.


The record shows that Anderson has the state's top time, a wind-aided 11.58 at the Pre-State Challenge in Wichita nearly a month ago. Lister is second at 11.78 and Simmons third at 11.97.


Forget the times: it's speed on speed when these three meet. It's the best Kansas has to offer in girls' sprinting, and it's sure to be a crowd-pleaser.


Lister was the class 5A state champion in 2016 before dealing with injuries in 2017. Anderson rightfully claimed the title as the state's fastest woman when she won the class 5A title last year.


Now the past two state champs meet in what will be Lister's final high school meet. Simmons, also a senior and the state champion at 200 meters last year, would be the best in any other division, and is more than a side-show to Lister and Anderson in this one.


Making the rivalry even more delicious is the fact that the three speedsters will likely meet in the finals of the 200 meters. And, Newton and Leavenworth come in with the No. 1 and No. 2 times in the 4 X 100 meter relay - which means Anderson and Lister could match up on the anchor leg, as well.


Newton, however, can't get caught up in just those individual battles, because the squad has a state title to defend. Newton scored 84 points a year ago for a 14 point victory over St. James Academy, which returns most of its team in hopes of capturing the team title this year.


Newton will have plenty of support for Anderson and Simmons, including junior Maggie Remsberg, who has the top ranking in class 5A in the 100 hurdles, and is a top 3 contender in the 300 hurdles and long jump. Also, triple jumper Savannah Garcia, a freshman, has the second-best mark in the triple jump in class 5A.


Senior Taylor Antonowich, a seasoned state meet performer, is at No. 4 in 5A in the 400 meters. Newton has the top-ranked 4 X 100 relay, and is No. 2 in the 4 X 400.


St. James Academy is a nearly polar opposite from Newton in that they will make their points in the distance events. Katie Moore has the top 800 time and No. 2 time in the 400, and Sarah Murrow is No. 2 in the 1600 and 3200. Murrow is the defending state champion in the 3200, having won as a freshman last year.


Other distance runners projected to score for St. James are Hannah Robinson and Mary O'conner; and St. James has the state's best times in the 4 X 400 and 4 X 800 relays.


Teams with an outside shot at the girls' team title are Mill Valley and Pittsburg, both of which also rely on strength in the distance events.


Pittsburg's Mckenzie Wilks, who will run for the University of Kansas next year, could sweep the 800, 1600 and 3200 meters. She's ranked No. 2 in the shorter event, and No. 1 in the other two. Teammates Faith Turner (triple jump) and Laken Robinson (high jump) are also ranked No. 1 in their events.


Mill Valley doesn't have the top-end strength of the other contenders, but they do have depth. They could score three in the 800 with Molly Haymaker, Delaney Kemp and Molly Ricker; three in the 1600 with Kemp, Morgan Koca and Mary Nelson; and three in the 3200 with Kemp, Nelson and Koca.


In addition to Lister, Leavenworth will likely add points with sprinter Wynter Ramos in the 100, 200 and 400; and Markita Swanagan, who could grab the state title in both the shot put and discus.


Kindel Nordhus of Bishop Carroll may be the division's best hurdler, with an eye on winning both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.


Class 5A boys don't need to take a back seat to the ladies, because there's plenty of talent in that division, as well.


Shawnee Heights' Michael Hoffer has the division's best marks in three events - and in fact, is nationally ranked in all three. He is No. 6 in the U.S. in the high jump (7-0.25), No. 3 in the long jump (24-3) and No. 78 in the triple jump (46-3.75). He is the defending class 5A state champion in the high jump; he cleared 7-0 to win the regional meet last week.


But the state's best team in class 5A is clearly Bishop Carroll, a juggernaut that should easily top 100 points at this year's meet - and probably well beyond that. Bishop Carroll has the state's best collection of field event performers, with a chance to place two and three athletes in most of the field events.


That includes the pole vault, where Ethan Hull, AJ McCormick and Brian Simon have a shot at a 1-2-3 finish. Hull has the best mark in 5A this season at 15-0.


In the triple jump, Jack Ebright, Thomas Helten and Phoenix Smith could all finish in the top 5. Joe Rohleder is a state title contender in the long jump and Austin Mernagh could score well in the high jump.


In the weight throws, Sam Garrison is No. 1 in class 5A in the shot put, while Wade Hull is No. 3. Garrison also is at No. 4 in 5A in the discus. Bishop Carroll's Matthew Redick adds to his team's depth in the shot put.


Joseph Holthusen of Bishop Carroll enters the state meet at No. 2 in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, while Jason Irwin is the top-ranked 800 meter runner in class 5A. Logan Hall and Mernagh hold down the sprints, with each capable of scoring points at state.


Liberal and Shawnee Heights are likely to fight it out for second place this year.


Liberal has two bona fide stars that head their charge in Dusty Torres and Austin Mullins. Torres has the fastest times this year in the class 5A 100 and 400, and is No. 3 in the 200. Mullins is No. 1 in the 300 hurdles, No. 2 in the 400, and No. 3 in the 110 hurdles. Liberal also has the fastest time in the 4 X 400 relay.


In addition to Hoffer, Shawnee Heights could get points from Cade Holmes in the discus (he's ranked No. 1 in that event) and shot put (No. 2). The squad also has the second best 4 X 400 relay in class 5A going into state.


Among individuals, class 5A cross country champion Ethan Marshall of St. Thomas Aquinas is the favorite in the 3200 meter run, and Mill Valley's Mitch Dervin has the state's best time in the 1600. Blue Valley Southwest's Dylan Miller is No. 2 in both of those distance events. Dervin will also challenge for the state title in the 800.


The 4 X 400 relay will be a nice capper to the 5A meet. Eight boys teams are within three seconds of each other.



Class 5A girls returning champions

100 -- Kalli Anderson, Newton

200 -- Savannah Simmons, Newton

400 -- Emma Gossman, St. James Academy

800 -- McKenzie Wilks, Pittsburg

1600 -- Wilks, Pittsburg

3200 -- Sarah Murrow, St. James Academy

Pole vault -- Hannah Buller, Goddard

Long jump -- Ryleigh Jackson, Eisenhower

Javelin -- Halie Brown, Arkansas City


Team - St. Thomas Aquinas


Class 5A boys returning champions*

400 -- Austin Mullins, Liberal

800 -- Jason Irwin, Bishop Carroll

100 hurdles -- Noah Green, St. Thomas Aquinas*

300 hurdles -- Green, St. Thomas Aquinas*

High jump -- Michael Hoffer, Shawnee Heights


Team -- Newton


* Note: Noah Green was the 2017 state champion in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, but moved out of state for his senior season.