At the Kansas class 5A state championships this year, those
same folks won't get much of a break when the distance races take center stage.
Oh, for sure, class 5A has its sprinters. In fact, Kalli Anderson of Newton, can flat out fly and perhaps is the state's fastest girl
But the excitement is high for the longer races in class 5A
this year, not just because the individual races will be heart-wrenching, but
because the results of those races may well determine the boys and girls team
The St. James Academy girls have finished as state runner-up
to Newton the past three years, but enter this season's meet as a strong
favorite to win the team title. They are the model of distance and middle
distance strength: frankly, no school in Kansas can dominate from 400 meters on
up like St. James Academy does.
They have the division's No. 1 ranked runner in the 800
(Katie Moore), 1600 (Sarah Murrow) and 3200 (Murrow), as well as the top 4 X
400 relay. They are No. 2 in class 5A in the 4 X 800 - an event in which they
set the Kansas All-Class record a year ago - and Hannah Robinson is No. 2 in
the 800 and 400.
Moore is the defending state champion at 400 meters, and
even though she enters this year with the fourth best time in that event, she's
still the one to beat. Murrow, last year's 3200 meter champion and the 2018
cross country state champ, will run the 800 at state for the first time this
year; she beat Moore and Robinson for the regional title last week.
All told, if St. James runs to their pre-meet ranking, the Thunder
would score 75 points from 400 meters on up, including the 4 X 400 and 4 X 800
relays. St James' girls set the class 5A state record in both of those relays last
year, including the All-Class record in the 4 X 800 (9:19.60)
St. Thomas Aquinas' boys have a bit more of an uphill battle,
but they will try to ride their strength in the distance races to the team
They have three of the best in the 1600 and 3200, including
sophomore Tommy Hazen, who has the top times in Kansas for both of those events
(4:20.53 and 9:22.60). Hazen has risen to the top of the state's ranks despite
playing baseball as a freshman and never having run track and field - even in
He will lead a powerful Aquinas threesome in the distance
events, including two-time cross country state champ Ethan Marshall (4:23.21
and 9:23.44) and Aiden Higgerson (4:24.40 and 9:24.91). Along with Keegan Staats in the 800 (1:59.50), Aquinas' distance crew is projected to score
nearly 50 points.
The boys' 1600 meter run could well be one of the great
highlights of the class 5A meet. Including the three Aquinas stars, the division
features 11 runners who have run between 4:20 and 4:25 this season. The sprint
down the final homestretch could be insane.
The list of contenders for the 1600 title is long: Jack Moore of St. James Academy (season best of 4:20.56); Terry Robinson of Lansing
(4:22.63); Ryan Kinnane of Andover (4:24.12); Christian Buehler of Blue Valley
Southwest (4:24.21); Sam Hubert of DeSoto (4;24.34); and Matthew Harding of
Bishop Carroll (4:24.51).
John Matulis of St. James Academy ran 4:25.82 at regionals
last week...and couldn't qualify for state. He was fifth in the same race with
Moore and the three Aquinas runners.
Bishop Carroll's boys won the 2018 state title by 40 points.
Graduation took some key pieces from that team, but they are still the favorite
to defend their state title.
For starters, Bishop Carroll may get a big 24 point boost in
the pole vault where Brian Simon, Ethan Hull and Aj McCormick enter as the top
three seeds. It has become a common occurrence this season to see Bishop
Carroll sweep the top three at meets; they even did it at last week's
In the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, Bishop Carroll qualified
all three of their entries at regionals. Kody Marvin, Tommy Harter and Justin Powell all could be in the top 5 at state. Marvin is the only class 5A hurdler
to dip under 40 seconds in the 300 hurdles (39.22).
Bishop Carroll's bid to repeat will also be boosted by Luke Larkin and Phoenix Smith in the 200; and it would help quite a bit if Harding can
beat any - or all - of the Aquinas runners in the 1600 and 3200.
Aquinas probably won't find a lot of points outside of the
distance events, but they're still in a strong position for a top three finish.
Something to watch: Marshall is the only one of the distance runners who has
experience at the state track and field meet - though the others have competed
in the state cross country championships previously.
Lansing, Wichita Northwest and Spring Hill are the other teams that have an inside track on the podium.
Lansing's Robinson is No. 3 in the 1600, and No. 1 for class
5A in the 800. Malik Benson could score big points in the long jump - where he's
ranked No. 1 in 5A - and the 100 (No. 2 in 5A). Chrystian Huff is No. 3 in the
triple jump and Liam Neidig is No. 4 in the 800.
Wichita Northwest lost a key piece of their state team when
6-8 high jumper Joziah Hill did not compete at regionals. But they've still got
some firepower, including Marcus Hicks (No. 1 in the discus and shot put), and
Isaiah Anthony (No. 2 in the 300 hurdles).
Spring Hill will field strong 4 X 100 and 4 X 400 relays,
but should also get points from Brennen Feeback in the long jump and triple
jump; Brenden Meek in the shot put; and Kael Knittel in the javelin.
Valley Center, Andover, Newton and DeSoto could move into
the top three in the boys' race, but have a smaller margin of error.
In the girls' race, three-time defending champion Newton still
has a powerful team, but the years have taken some of the depth that has made
it the dominant force in class 5A.
With Anderson leading the way in the 100 and 200 - where she's
favored to win both - the squad could still find itself in the top 5. Fellow
senior Maggie Remsberg failed to qualify in the 100 hurdles (where she was one
of the top contenders for the state title) but she will compete in the 300
hurdles and long jump, events that she is capable of winning, as well.
It's clear that St. James Academy has the best chance of
winning the girls' title, if all goes well on the track for that school. But
Bishop Carroll isn't too far off, thanks in large part to dynamic senior Kindel Nordhus.
She comes in to state with the No. 1 ranking in the 200, 400
and 300 hurdles, as well as No. 4 in the 100 hurdles. Freshman distance ace
Hope Jackson is No. 2 in the 3200 and will also run the 800, while Taylor Linn
is No. 2 in the pole vault. Bishop Carroll also has a couple of very good
relays in the 4 X 400 and 4 X 800.
Also in the mix for trophies in class 5A girls:
Blue Valley Southwest's Briana Lowe enters state as the No.
1 ranked javelin thrower in the division. Distance runner Gigi Loffredo placed
second at state cross country and is ranked No. 3 in the 1600 and 3200.
Southwest should also get state points from Lauren Heck in the 100 hurdles and
300 hurdles; Hannah Turner in the 400; and the 4 X 800 relay.
Pittsburg lost a lot to graduation a year ago, but the squad
does have one of the state's most exciting performers in Faith Turner, who has
the top marks in the long jump and triple jump, and is No. 4 in the 100. She'll
also run a leg on Pittsburg's 4 X 100 relay.
Pittsburg also has three potential point-getters in the discus -
Ela Hendrickson, Arely Rodriguez and Beauty Simmons - and the top seed in
the high jump, Laken Robinson.
Defending champion Newton has lost much of the depth that
powered three straight team titles. But Kalli Anderson very well could win the
100 and 200, and fellow senior Maggie Remsberg could win the long jump and 300
hurdles. Also look for Asha Regier and Hayley Loewen in the high jump; and
Loewen and Savannah Garcia in the triple jump.
Some of the top individuals to watch in the class 5A girls
meet include Emma Ruddle of McPherson (110 hurdles), Emily Fuhr of DeSoto
(discus and shot put); Paris Bond of St. Thomas Aquinas (high jump and triple
jump); and Reagan Geihsler of Salina Central (javelin and discus).
For the boys, some of the top individuals include Damarius
Peterson of Newton (shot put and discus); Sam McDavitt of Andover (800); and
Isaac Mitchell of Salina South (javelin).
Class 5A at a glance
Returning Individual State Champions
100 - Emma Ruddle, junior, McPherson*
200 - Emily Ervin, sophomore, Blue Valley Southwest
400 - Katie Moore, junior, St. James Academy
100 hurdles - Maggie Remsberg, senior, Newton; Ruddle,
300 hurdles - Kindel Nordhus, senior, Bishop Carroll
High jump - Emma Wondra, senior, Kapaun
Pole vault - Taylor Linn, senior, Bishop Carroll
Long jump - Faith Turner, junior, Pittsburg
Triple jump - Turner, junior, Pittsburg
Javelin - Libby Schurle, senior, Valley Center; Madeline
Rivers, junior, Spring Hill**
* Ruddle won her state titles in class 4A last year
** Rivers won her state title in class 4A last year
2018 Top Five Teams
St. James Academy 76
Mill Valley 69.5
Blue Valley Southwest 63
Milesplit projection for the 2019 class 5A girls state team title
St. James Academy 87
Bishop Carroll 66
Blue Valley Southwest 56
Returning Individual State Champions
Pole vault - Ethan Hull, senior, Bishop Carroll
Discus - Jacob Schmitz, senior, Kapaun
Javelin - Isaac Mitchell, senior, Salina South
2018 Top Five Teams
Bishop Carroll 119
Shawnee Heights 79
Mill Valley 37