By KEVIN THOMPSON
SUBLETTE - What wind?
That might have been the facetious comment of the day, but everybody had to deal with it.
As the southerly breezes picked up speed at the Hi-Plains League divisional meet Tuesday afternoon, competitors had to adjust their strategies. And while the winds raised race times, the strategists were able to overcome the 25- to 30 mph gusts.
The results? Multiple golds for multiple winners, especially on the girls' side.
Wichita County dominated the girls' field. The Lady Indians' 134 points easily out-pointed runner-up Lakin's 81.
The Lady Indians rode the gold wagon as four girls combined to win nine individual titles.
Wichita County's Riley Matteson was the top individual girl of the meet, taking home gold medals in the long jump and the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Besides Matteson's three golds, three of her teammates also took home double golds.
Hannah Mehl claimed first place in the javelin and the discus.
Rachel Busch won the triple jump and the 400-meter dash.
And Paige Wells turned her cross country experience into wins in both the 800- and 1,600-meter runs.
"The back stretch was easy. The front stretch had its little struggles," Wells said. "My coach just told me to go out and then hang back, just to run however I felt. I feel like I'm getting stronger than I was last year running in the wind."
Taking two golds for Lakin was senior hurdler Allie Jones, winning the 100- and 300- meter races in relatively easy fashion.
Normally a three-step hurdler, Jones said it was tough to do with such strong headwinds.
"I did a three-step on the first hurdle, but it started breaking down after that so I thought I might as well just four-step," she said. "I wasn't really happy about my time but most of that's because of the wind."
For Wichita County coach Janee Porter, this win was a good one for her girls.
"We had awesome success today," Porter said. "We have a great girls team, so this success should be our normal throughout the season. Hopefully we can keep doing what we did here and keep expanding on it."
On the boys' side, Cimarron's 109 team points outdistanced Sublette's 87.
Lakin's Joseph McCombs swept his way to firsts in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and the 300 hurdles, to claim top individual boy honors in the meet.
"It was a pretty good challenge with this wind," McCombs said after winning his second race. "I had to work on keeping my head down."
That summarized the day for most of the runners as the wind increased during the late afternoon.
McCombs' three-sweep was pretty sweet, Lakin coach Mark Calderwood said.
"Joe competed really well," he said. "He had three hard races into the wind, but he leaned into the wind in each. It's not about time today; it's about competing. And he competed hard."
The only other multiple individual winner on the boys' side was Wichita County freshman Joshua Mehl, who placed first in the 400- and 800-meter races.
Christian Perez of Syracuse caught the brunt of the wind's force as he won the 1,600-meter run in 5:12.00, about 26 seconds slower than his best, but good enough on this day.
"My strategy was to just stay relaxed and when I ran towards the wind, I made sure I kept my head down and used shorter strides," Perez said.
"With the wind on my back, I made my strides longer. My last two laps I just ran faster."
In the field events, the closest contest of the afternoon was the boys pole vault, where five jumpers battled it out, flirting with 13 feet for the title.
No jumpers hit that height, but they all cleared 12-6. Lakin's Jayce Stabel took the title, based upon fewer misses.
For Cimarron's boys, the key to a team win was consistency.
Five different Bluejays won individual titles and two relays accounted for the bulk of their scoring.
"They really performed well. I'm really pleased with what they did," said Cimarron coach Dennis Hornung. "With the wind today, I thought some of the times weren't quite as good as last Friday (at the Cimarron meet), but we had good performances today and good competition."
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.