By BRETT MARSHALL
The Garden City High School Invitational Track and Field meet on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium provided all the excitement that any fan, competitor or coach could ask for.
Add in the fact that the meet was held in near-perfect weather conditions (virtually no wind) and one had the makings for great times on the track and great marks in the field events.
The competitors didn't disappoint.
Start with the team races first where the host Buffaloes and Lady Buffs swept to their respective titles, the boys scoring 139 points to finish in front of Western Athletic Conference foes Liberal (114) and Dodge City (108) while the girls were dominant by scoring 170.33 points to runner-up Liberal's 102.
From there, the performances were impressive and they came from everywhere.
Here's a rundown of the top performances of the day:
Holcomb's Heath Tucker ran the fastest time in Kansas Class 3A when he torched the track in 38.55 seconds to narrowly beat Garden City's Jonathan DuVall, who ran a personal best 38.92, again one of the top times in Class 6A in the state.
DuVall returned the favor in the 110-meter high hurdles earlier when he clocked a 15.05 to win the shorter race, while Tucker ran a season best 15.20 to finish second.
Scott City sophomore Kelly Wycoff continued her domination of the sprints as she garnered gold in the 100 (12.80), 200 (26.09) and 400-meters (1:00.25). She currently owns the fastest times in Kansas in Class 3A in the same events.
Garden City's three relay teams posted victories and in the process two had season best times. The 4x100-meter group of Chinasa Ekweariri, Kristen Heiman, Taryn Tempel and Alex Telfair clocked a 50.40; the 4x400-meter baton unit of Heiman, Kayla Doll, Tempel and Telfair ran 4:06.45 while the 4x800 squad of Alex Miller, Neysa Harman, Katy Doll and Kayla Doll ran 10:20.24.
Ulysses' Kaylea Britton, the top discus and shot putter in the area, won both her specialties with throws of 118-01 and 40-05.
The Lady Buffs got a 1-2 sweep in the pole vault from Audrey Gerber (8-06) and Taylor Linenberger (8-00), while Taylor Caine and Shelby Heatwole also took a 1-2 finish in the javelin with season-best throws of 113-07 and 105-09.
Sophomore Alex Telfair won the girls long jump for Garden City with a leap of 16-10.50, easily her best performance of the season.
On the boys side, it was just as impressive.
Ulysses' Tate Annis was a double-gold winner, capturing the 200-meters (22.54) and the long jump (22-01.25).
Garden City got top efforts for wins from Grayson Tempel in the triple jump (42-03.75) and from Tristan Nanninga in the high jump (6-02). Both were personal bests.
The Buffs won the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 43.57 (Dustin Tempel, Grayson Tempel, Jeremy Ensz and DuVall) while the 4x800-meter squad also won with a season best time of 8:26.47.
Holcomb's defending state 3A state champion 4x400-meter relay team capped off the night's strong showing with a school record mark of 3:21.51 as the Longhorns put together strong legs from Tyler LaSalle, Brendan Thomas, Michael Banderas and Tucker. According to Holcomb coaches, Tucker's anchor leg was 48.6, as they beat their old school mark set last year at the state meet by more than three seconds.
The match-up of two of the best hurdlers in the area, in addition to having Scott City's Colborn Couchman on hand (third in 15.39 in the 110s, fourth in the 300s in 40.35) was one of the featured events of the schedule. And the hurdlers were on top of their season effort.
"Jonathan's pretty darned good and everybody's been talking about us matching up, so this was a fun day," Tucker said. "I was about as nervous as I could be before the 300s. I think that's the better of my two hurdle races and I just got off to a great start."
For his part, DuVall was up to the task as he went under 39 seconds for the first time in getting his personal best. He has run 14.74 in the 110s just last week at Hutchinson.
"I'm happy with my 300 time, but I sure would have liked to have won," DuVall said. "But Heath's really a great competitor and I think we just brought out the best in each other. Once I saw him over my shoulder (in the 300s), I knew I'd have to have a big kick at the finish. I thought my start in the 110s was good, but I felt really strong in the final part of the race. Overall, a great day to run. The weather was perfect. I think we just pushed each other to run really well."
Wycoff, who had established her season best marks in her three races last Friday at the Cheney Invitational, didn't match those times, but she was nonetheless impressive in beating Jai Chapman of Liberal in the 100, Ekweariri of Garden City in the 200 and Tempel of Garden City in the 400.
"My times weren't exactly what I wanted but the competition was really tough so I'm happy that I got the wins," Wycoff said. "Last Friday was pretty crazy. I couldn't imagine those times (12.22, 25.54 and 58.87). I've got to get my times down lower to compete against the eastern Kansas girls but I know I've gotten a lot stronger than last year."
For Garden City's Gerber, winning the pole vault at home was one happy moment. But getting her season and personal best of 8-06 was icing on the cake.
"To do it at home with a lot of people watching was really helping me," Gerber said. "I've been doing a lot of morning practices, trying to get stronger because for the past couple of weeks things weren't that good. This seems promising for me. It's time to peak since we've got WAC, regionals and state coming up."
Gerber very nearly cleared 9-00 on her third and final attempt, but she said she now knows she can clear that height, too.
"I'm getting better on getting my body turned and getting through the mental stuff will be a big boost," Gerber said.
For Ulysses' Annis, his 200 time and long jump mark were just off his season bests, but he was happy with the way his day went despite losing in the 100-meters.
"I think I felt a little tired from the Friday meet (in Hugoton), but it's still a good mark," Annis said of his 22.54 in the 200. "There's some really good competition here and I knew that Tempel (Grayson) was pretty quick. He's not been that close to me before, but he was really pushing today."
And while Scott City's Joey Meyer didn't crack the 2:00 barrier in the 800-meters, he did run a solid 2:00.61 after finishing third in the 1,600-meters earlier.
"The 800 is my favorite," Meyer said. "It's the one I like. I really wanted to get under two today but getting a win at two-flat works just fine."
Holcomb's 4x400-meter relay team had been looking forward to the race all day, knowing that for the first time this season, their events would be set up to give them the best opportunity to make a run at their school mark from a year ago. And they simply ran right through the mark.
LaSalle got the team off to a strong start, Thomas put them into a solid lead at the 800-mark and Banderas maintained the margin over Garden City at the 1,200-meter mark. Then, the baton was handed off to Tucker, who had anchored their state champion team as a freshman, and he ran away from the Buffs as the Longhorns' time of 3:21.51 was more than six seconds ahead of Garden's 3:28.03, which was its best time of the season.
Garden City will return to the track on Friday when the Buffs travel to Derby. Holcomb is on the road to the Colby Invitational while Ulysses, Scott City and many other Telegram area teams will be at the Kearny County Invitational in Lakin on Friday.
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.