Things just got a whole lot more interesting in the chase
for the class 2A girls state track and field championship.
seemed to be a runaway favorite for the title for
most of this season, but at last week's regional meet in Smith Center, Plainville
proved to be the equal of the defending state champions. Plainville matched
Bennington throughout the meet, and at the end of the day, the two teams shared
the regional title with 81 points.
And Bennington - traditionally strong in the distances - no
longer is likely to rack up big points in the longer events as the squad
qualified only one runner in events from 400 meters on up.
It means that Bennington has quickly fallen back to the
chase pack and there is a great deal of opportunity for any team that can get
to around 50 points.
The most likely of those to unseat Bennington as state
champs is Plainville. Speedster Aubree Dewey qualified in the 100, 200 and 400,
and will likely run a leg on her team's 4 X 100 relay, which beat Bennington at
the regional meet.
Jersey Kaiser of Plainville enters as the No. 1 ranked 100
meter hurdler in class 2A, and she should also place high in the 300 hurdles.
Brooklyn Staab is likely to finish in the top 3 in the discus.
But never underestimate the heart of a champion, and
Bennington certainly has a champion's pedigree in athletics. Jasey Downing of
Bennington won the regional title at 200 meters and will also run the 100.
Bennington's Chloe Stanley swept the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles at regionals,
and could do the same at state. Stanley also qualified for state in the pole
vault, where she could be in the top three.
The other girls' teams capable of winning the big gold
trophy -- or at least making the podium -- are Ellis, Ellsworth, Bluestem and Valley Heights.
Cassie Waldschmidt of Ellis was the state runner-up at 400
meters last year. She is undefeated in that event this season and is ranked No.
1 in class 2A entering the state meet. Waldschmidt is also entered in the 100
and 200 where she should make finals in both events.
Sophomore Grace Eck of Ellis also is undefeated this season
in the 800 meters. She cruised to victory in last week's regionals with a time
of 2:25 - better than three seconds ahead of the second place runner.
has a pretty remarkable
sprinter in sophomore Shaylee Leiker
, who has the No. 2 times for class 2A in
the 100 and 400. And Lakyn Tenbrink
has a good shot to place well in the high jump.
Bluestem could do its damage in the field events. Destiny Masters (long jump) and Torrance Lovesee (triple jump) have the top marks in
class 2A this season. Masters also could finish in the top three in the high
jump, and Lovesee should find the podium in the long jump.
This year's Valley Heights squad isn't as strong as the teams that won
back-to-back state titles in 2016-2017, but they've still got athletes capable
of putting up points. Sophomore Samantha Vermetten has top 5 times in the
division at 800 and 1600 meters, and she will also probably run on her team's 4
X 800 relay, which has the second best time in class 2A this season.
Valley Heights' freshman Emma Yungeberg is the newest in a
line of stars from that school. She won the regional title in the discus, and
also qualified in the shot put and javelin. She has put up marks that rank in
the top four for class 2A in each of those events this season.
Among girls' individuals, a pair of returning state champs will square off in the girls hurdles. Kloie McIntyre of Herington nipped Kinsley's Rylee Gleason by four one-hundredths of a second in the finals of last year's 100 hurdles, but Gleason rebounded to win the 300 hurdles later in the meet. A rematch of those two in the finals of the 100 hurdles would be pretty special.
There are 18 girls in class 2A who have jumped over 5-0 in
the high jump this season; eight of those have cleared at least 5-2 within the
past two weeks. Oakley's Jordyn Lowrie and Medicine Lodge's Madelyn Hernandez
lead the field with season bests of 5-4
Grace Rowland of Sterling was the class 3A state champion in the long jump and triple last year. Now she'll chase those same titles in class 2A. She swept the regional titles with jumps of 17-0 and 35-4.5.
Grace Thompson of Sedgwick is the top-rated thrower in the
discus and shot put, while Trego Community's Helen Giefer - the state champion
in cross country last fall - could pull off the distance double this weekend.
Thompson also won the regional title in the 200 meters, where she will be a
strong challenger for the individual title.
There will be plenty of drama for the boys' team title, as
Stanton County, which came up just five and one-half points
short of the team title last year, is the early favorite. Senior Creed Puyear
missed last year's state meet due to injury, but he appears healthy heading
into this year's meet, where he is the No. 1 ranked athlete in the long jump
and triple jump.
But Stanton County took a blow when its 4 X 100 meter relay
team was unable to finish at regionals. That relay had the top time in class 2A
this season, which translates into a costly, 10-point miscue, perhaps.
Stanton County did win the 4 X 800 at regionals, and was the
runner-up in the 4 X 400. Both of those relays will be key to keeping Stanton
County in the mix for the team championship.
Hillsboro seems to be stacked and the team most likely to
cause Stanton County some nervous moments. You can just about put 20 points on
the board for Hillsboro thanks to senior Wesley Shaw, who is likely to win the
shot put and discus.
Shaw is the No. 1 shot put thrower in Kansas, and No. 16 in
the United States. His season bests are more than nine feet better in the shot
put than the next best 2A competitor this season, and 20 feet better in the
Hillsboro should also get big points from Josiah Driggers in
the triple jump and long jump, and Nate Hein in the pole vault.
Smith Center looked good at its regional, qualifying three relays that should be able to put up points at state. They may also get a state title from javelin thrower Hesston Maxwell, whose season-beset of 176-3 is No. 1 in class 2A this season. A pair of 400 meter runners -- Rece Buckmaster and Logan Zabel -- should add to Smith Center's point total.
Meade's Ethan Thompson enters this year's state meet with
top three times in the 800, 1600 and 3200. He has a good chance to win any of
those events, but he'll have to beat Yates Center's Hadley Splechter, a
seven-time state champion who won all three of those events last year plus the
2A cross country title last fall.
Thompson finished as runner-up to Splechter in the 1600,
3200 and cross country within the past year.
Regardless, Thompson is likely to put up a big number in his
team's total, which should boost that school's title chances. Look for
sophomore Vance Shewey (high jump) and junior Greyson Haynes (pole vault) to
also put up points for Meade.
Republic County has a good shot at a podium finish, led by
pole vaulter Cody Dahl, and 400 meter runner Jama Gleue. Republic County also
qualified all three of its relays.
Plainville's boys will go to work in the throws where Jared Casey, Brennan Staab and Ryan Junkermeier each made it through regionals in the
shot put. Staab also will be one of the top contenders in the discus. Casey,
who was ranked No. 2 in the discus this season, fell two inches short of
qualifying out of last week's regionals.
The 100 meter finals should be pretty exciting in class 2A
where Bennington's Javon Allen comes in with the division's top time of 10.62.
But he'll get a good fight from Ellinwood's Drew Blake (10.79), Rossville's
Trevor Johnson (10.84) and Ness City's Wyatt Rupp (10.88).
Sterling's Tyus Wilson, who won the class 3A state high jump
title last year as a freshman, will go after the 2A title this year. He has a
season best of 6-11.
Class 2A at a glance
Returning Individual State Champions
3200 - Helen Giefer, senior, Trego Community
100 hurdles - Kloie McIntyre, senior, Herington
300 hurdles - Rylee Gleason, senior, Kinsley
Pole vault - Bree Frieling, junior, Smith Center
Note: 2018 Class
2A state champions Jamya O'Quinn (100 and 200) of Moundridge, Sabrina Thomas of Kiowa County, and Aubry Donley (400 and 800) of Lincoln are now in class 1A.
2018 Top Five Teams
Valley Heights 48
Kiowa County 39
Milesplit's projection for the 2019 class 2A girls track and
field state meet
4) Ellsworth 35
Returning Individual State Champions
800 - Hadley Splechter, senior, Yates Center
1600 - Splechter, senior, Yates Center
3200 - Splechter, senior, Yates Center
Shot put - Wes Shaw, senior, Hillsboro
High jump -- Tyus Wilson, Sterling*
* NOTE: Wilson won the class 3A high jump title in 2018.
2018 Top Five Teams
Stanton County 53
Smith Center 42
Yates Center 40
St. Francis 36.5
Milesplit's projection for the 2019 class 2A boys track and
field state meet
2) Stanton County 44
3) Smith Center 38