By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — With league and regional meets coming up, all track and field teams are looking to make moves, sort out some things, and set lineups.
At the Kearny County Invitational Friday, Ulysses dominated the boys team scoring, but a number of individuals and relay teams left their marks.
The Tigers got four first places (three from Tate Annis), five runners-up, and four third places to overwhelm second-place Meade (131.83 to 79), which finished with five gold medals itself.
Hugoton was third (59) with just one win, and fourth-place Stanton County (57) took three gold medals.
Annis continued his domination in gold medals by winning the 100- and 200-meters and long jump, while Ulysses' 4x800 meter relay team set a season-best time of 8:21.43.
Annis' 22.21 in the 200 meters is .11 seconds shy of his season best, but he was still ecstatic about it afterwards.
"That's still a really good time. It's not a personal best, but I'll take that any day," the junior said.
And he ran it with basically nobody near him. Southwestern Heights' Ruben Chavez (22.77) and Meade's Jett Little (22.78) were the next closest runners.
"I'm a pretty strong 200 runner. But I have to prepare for later on down the stretch to compete with guys," Annis explained in pushing himself.
The 100-meters was slightly different. Though he went 10.96 (his season best is 10.82), Chavez and Little were right beside him the whole time.
With two runners that close in the 100, Annis said he felt their presence in the 200, and it helped push him.
His 21-07 in the long jump was 15 inches short of his personal best, but he said the high temperatures in the low 90s hampered everybody.
"Last year we would have been happy to hit 21 feet," he said. "But once you hit 22, it's like not good enough."
A triple gold at the league meet in Scott City on Thursday is Annis' next goal.
In the 4x800 relay, Ulysses beat its season-best time by five seconds. The Tigers had a challenge from Stanton County, but they opened up a huge 60-meter lead on the second leg behind Izzy Mendoza. Patrick Weaver of Hugoton moved past the Trojans to finish second, but it was still 13 seconds behind the Ulysses squad, running in the heat of the afternoon.
"Warming up is key, even though it is hot," Mendoza said. "Everybody was looking good."
That included anchorman Carlos Galindo, who ran with nobody pushing him except his teammates urging him for a fast time.
Last year, the Tigers ran an 8:12, and Mendoza said they're shooting for that time first, and then, hopefully lower.
Raul Pantoja was part of the Stanton County relay team that finished third in 8:44.14, but he made up for it with an 800-meter win over Galindo and anchoring the winning 4x400 relay team to win two golds.
"I had a hard week of practice so I thought I was going to be kind of tired," Pantoja said after his 800 win.
Running just ahead of Galindo on the gun lap, Pantoja knew Galindo was there and made up his mind not to let the Tiger pass him, which pushed him to run as fast as he did.
His 2:02.77 is four seconds faster than his PR, but he thinks he can get under 2:00.
After anchoring the winning 4x400 relay team, Pantoja was also happy with cutting five seconds off that personal-best time. Daniel Molina brought the Trojans to an even exchange with Ulysses on the final handoff, and Pantoja took the lead for good on the backstretch.
"That was my first time being last runner," he said. "I had a lot of pressure on me, but I ran my best quarter time (51.7)."
Quinn Kendrick, who ran the opening leg of that relay, started his day with a win in the pole vault, jumping 14-0. He made that height with ease, then chose to pass at 14-6 (a jump he cleared less than two weeks ago) and try for 15-0. The junior cleared the bar on his first attempt, but caught it on the way down and couldn't make the next two jumps.
"I just didn't throw off enough," he said of the miss. "I was just getting tired."
At his last meet in Satanta, Kendrick didn't even make height.
"I just couldn't get my steps on," he said. "It was one of those days I wasn't feeling it."
A new, stiffer pole he hopes to use next week, plus adjusting his standards, might be what propels him over the 15-foot mark, he said.
Though it wasn't a win, Hugoton's Patrick Weaver and Jacob Martin went 2-3 in the 3,200 meter run, both eclipsing their season marks, Weaver by 27 seconds and Martin by 20.
Both ran with a lead pack for seven laps that included Mendoza of Ulysses, who had knocked down his own season time on Tuesday by 15 seconds, and Elkhart's Joseph Iman, who won the 1,600 meters earlier.
Iman used a solid kick on the last turn to beat Weaver by just .02 seconds, but the two Eagle runners were ecstatic.
"Our goal is I think we can each run 10 or 15 seconds faster than what we ran now," Martin said.
Hugoton coach Nick Rodriguez said being ready to go at the end of the year at the right time will dictate how much faster they can go. It's a tough long distance regional, he said, so he still isn't sure who will run which race yet.
The Eagles' lone win came in the shot put from Avory Stegman (47-11.5).
Sublette got a win from Jake Gesling in the triple jump over Kyle Dupree of Syracuse.
Jantz Budde got Wichita County's lone win in the 400 meter dash.
Ty Clark of Cimarron won the high jump, and teammate Eduardo Trevino picked up a win in the 300 hurdles.
Teams gear up for league meets next week, with the GWAC in Scott City on Thursday and the Hi-Plains meet in Stanton County on Friday.
See results in Scoreboard, Page D2.