Adrenaline Junkies Beware: Class 6A will be a Thrill Ride

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One thing you can pretty much count on regarding the Kansas class 6A state track and field championships this year: There will never be a dull moment.

This division is dripping with so many storylines that it's not hard to imagine a two-day thrill ride when the state's class 6A athletes are doing their thing.


For starters, the javelin throw features the top female and the No. 3 male thrower - in the United States! Olathe North's Dana Baker, headed for Duke University next year, is No. 1 in the United States with a throw of 175-6 this season, while Manhattan's Sam Hankins - just a sophomore - is No. 3 in the United States at 220-9.


Both of them posted those career-best marks at last week's regional meet. The javelin area is one place that you should hang out this weekend.


In the distance races, the 2018 meet will feature the return of Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Molly Born, who rose to national prominence while dominating Kansas class 6A distance running in 2015 and 2016.


Born was sidelined all of last year by injury, but she's back and will attempt the distance-running triple - the 800, 1600 and 3200 meter runs. One factor in her favor is that the class 6A 3200 meter run is on Friday morning, which means she'll get a little extra rest before taking on the 1600-800 double on Saturday afternoon.


And the sprints...uh, yes, there will be drama there as well.


Picture for a moment the finals of the boys 100 meter dash: Silence, followed by the gun shooting and the crowd screaming, eight sprinters roaring down the track and then anxiously waiting for electronic timing cameras to sort out the finish order.


Ollie McGee of Wichita Southeast has staked his claim as the state's fastest boy this season, having run 10.38 for 100 meters. He has consistently run under 10.70 for the last month, including back-to-back 10.47 and 10.38 in the prelims and finals of the Greater Wichita Athletic League championships two weeks ago.


McGee's dominance in the 100 this season has been especially impressive because he is regularly running against other Wichita-area sprinters, which have dominated the state scene this season.


That includes Wichita West's Xavier Sellers, who has the state's second-best 100 time at 10.48, and Wichita South's Deron Dudley and Phillip Landrum.


Landrum is the class 6A defending state champion in the 100 and 200. He has run a season-best of 10.54 in the 100, though has excelled even more in the 200 and 400 this season - he has Kansas' best 200 time of 21.02. Dudley's season-best of 10.49 is the third fastest time in Kansas this year.


In class 6A alone, 15 athletes have run sub-11 for 100 meters, and eight are at 10.78 or better, including Izayiah Moore (10.73) and Ian Sanchez (10.73) of Junction City. It makes it highly possible that Saturday's finals will be the type of breath-taking race that defines the entire meet.


The chase for team titles at this year's meet probably won't lack for excitement, either. Going in, it appears that the state championship won't be decided until the final events on late Saturday afternoon.


Olathe North, Lawrence and Olathe Northwest lead the way as meet favorites in the girls division. If you can figure a way to separate these three, then your crystal ball is better than mine, because it looks like all of them will score plenty of points.


I would have put Junction City in that group, but the defending state champion Bluejays took a big hit when senior speedster Lyric Holman came up injured at last week's regional meet. Holman, who was fourth in the 100 and 200 and third in the 400 at last year's state meet, will not compete in any of those events this year. She may be available to run a relay.


Baker is a sturdy foundation that Olathe North's girls build their title hopes on. It would be a major upset if she didn't win the javelin title, and in fact, she will probably break the state record in that event by more than 10 feet.


But Baker also could place in the discus - where she's got the No. 2 throw in class 6A - and in the shot put. Her farewell to high school track and field could be a nifty 20-plus points toward her team's title chances.


Olathe North also has the top-ranked 4 X 800 meter relay, and solid depth in Reygan Brown (triple jump), Claire Fulhage (1600 and 3200), Jaiya McKie (100 hurdles) and Brea Turner (100 hurdles).


Lawrence's girls set themselves up well by qualifying in droves out of the regional meet. They have a budding superstar in junior Evann Seratte, who won two individual events and anchored two winning relays at regionals.


Seratte enters state with the top time in the 800, and No. 2 in the 400. She will then anchor the Lions' 4 X 400 and 4 X 800 relays. If this meet comes down to the last event - the 4 X 400 - it's pretty comforting to know that you have a 58 second quarter-miler anchoring your team.


In addition to Seratte, Lawrence has potential top three finishers in Baylee Unruh (javelin), Josie Hickerson (pole vault) and Asjah Harris (200). They also have a solid 4 X 100 relay.


Olathe Northwest may not have the depth of the other two contenders, but they should score big points in a few events. Junior Maddie Righter is the defending champion and the top-ranked high jumper in class 6A, while junior Jaleesa McWashington is No. 1 in the triple jump and No. 2 in the long jump. McWashington is currently listed at No. 77 in the U.S. triple jump rankings.


Olathe Northwest also has the top-ranked 4 X 100 relay and could score in the 4 X 400, as well.


Among individuals, Wichita Southeast's Christal Mosley is pure excitement in track spikes. She has the top times in the 200 and 400, and is No. 2 in the high jump. She is the defending state champion in the 400 meters, winning the 2017 title in a finish-line lean. She's also ranked No. 24 in the United States in the 200.


Blue Valley North's Sophie Scott is the defending state champion in the 800 meters, and enters state with the No. 2 times in the 800, 1600 and 3200. Shawnee Mission North's Katie Kasunic beat Born in the 1600 and 3200 last week, and Manhattan's Clara Mayfield - the state runner-up in cross country last fall -- is a top three contender in the 800, 1600 and 3200. Cross country state champion Riley Beach of Bue Valley Northwest, just a freshman, is in the 1600 and 3200 meters, as well.


Junction City's Kiena Newman is the defending champion in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Janae Wren of Hutchinson could be her main threat in the 100 hurdles, while Taylor Savolt of Garden City and Dani Winslow of Olathe South have posted faster times than Newman in the 300 hurdles.


Abigail Kelly-Salo of Shawnee Mission Northwest leads the way in the class 6A girls pole vault. She's cleared 12-3 this season, good for No. 3 in Kansas.


In the class 6A boys team race, it appears to be a two-team battle between Shawnee Mission Northwest and Manhattan. Everyone else seems to be fighting for third place.


An interesting matchup between the two schools will take place in the 200 and 400 where Shawnee Mission Northwest's Hayden Goodpaster and Manhattan's Clyde King, Jr. are among the state's best.


Goodpaster edged King by two-tenths of a second in the 400 at the Seaman Relays earlier this season, but King edged Goodpaster in the 200 later in that meet. The two may decide the 400 title, and should be among the medalists in the 200 at state. Either way, how this battle within the battle shapes up could be one key to who wins the team state championship.


Otherwise, Shawnee Mission Northwest and Manhattan rarely will see each other this weekend.


Manhattan has strength in the javelin with Hankins, as well as the distances with senior Cooper Schroeder (No. 1 in the 3200, No. 5 in the 1600), freshman Daniel Harkin (No. 3 in the 3200), and Logan Logback (No. 1 in the 800). Manhattan also has solid 4 X 800 and 4 X 100 relays, as well as returning state medalist James Higgs in the discus.


In addition to Goodpaster, Shawnee Mission Northwest's strength comes from Zhanarden Vil and Chanler Taylor (triple jump and long jump), Jonathan Sommerfeld and Seth Mosburg (both at No. 2 in the pole vault), and Travis Morrison (No. 1 in the shot put).


Hutchinson could have the inside track for the third place trophy, led by Tayezhan Crough, who has the top times in class 6A in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Hutchinson also has the division's No. 2 ranked 4 X 400 relay squad.


Adrian Brown of Derby is the defending state champion in the 300 hurdles, and runner-up in the 110 hurdles. Emmanuel Okwuone of Olathe South is No. 2 in the 300 hurdles. Between those two and Crough, the hurdle events should add to this meet's excitement.


Also, in the triple jump, Reggie Edwards of Shawnee Mission West is one to watch. He soared 47-7.5 at regionals last week to claim the top jump in Kansas this year, and No. 68 in the United States. The triple jump could be a great competition with defending state champion Federico Harvey of Campus (46-9.5) and Shawnee Mission Northwest's Vil (46-3.5) right in the mix.


Lawrence's Hunter Krom will push Manhattan's Hankins in the javelin. Last year, Krom sat in first place at state before Hankins overtook him on the last throw of the competition. Krom has thrown the javelin 200-8 this season, good for No. 2 in Kansas, and No. 16 in the United States.



Class 6A girls returning state champions


100 - Jada Davis, Blue Valley West

200 - Christal Mosley, Wichita Southeast

400 - Mosley, Wichita Southeast

800 - Sophie Scott, Blue Valley North

1600 - Molly Born, Shawnee Mission Northwest (2015, 2016)

3200 - Born, Shawnee Mission Northwest (2015, 2016)

100 hurdles - Kiena Newman, Junction City

300 hurdles - Newman, Junction City

High jump - Madeline Righter, Olathe Northwest

Long jump - Bailey Turner, Olathe East

Triple jump - Jessie Stindt, Shawnee Mission East

Javelin - Dana Baker, Olathe North

2017 Team Champs -- Junction City


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

110 hurdles - Ko Saito, Manhattan*

300 hurdles - Adrian Brown, Derby

Pole vault - Ruben Huerta, Garden City

Triple jump - Federico Harvey, Haysville-Campus

Shot put - Demarcus Elliott, Garden City

Javelin - Sam Hankins, Manhattan

2017 Team Champs -- Hutchinson


* 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.