By BRETT MARSHALL
It is an event unlike any other sports competition in Kansas.
And whether you're a sprinter, middle or long distance runner, or a field event fan, the 101st Kansas State High School Track and Field Championship that begins on Friday at Wichita's Cessna Stadium, is the crown jewel for the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
"It's hard to explain, it's just a great atmosphere," said Scott City High School coach Jim Turner. "It's the greatest thing out there. You're just in a place where you get to see all the great runners and then see where they go in the future."
The meet begins at 7:45 a.m. Friday with the finals of the Class 1-2-3A girls and boys 3,200-meters. That event will be well represented by runners from The Telegram area schools.
In Class 1A, Greeley County's Kennedy Schneider and Troy Wineinger will compete for the Jackrabbits after helping their teams to respective state cross country championships last October.
"Kennedy has had a phenomenal year," said Greeley County coach Greg Cook. "I think after last year's state meet, she was disappointed, and she really trained hard in the summer and it paid off for her in the fall. In the winter, when the days were decent, she was out training."
Schneider is entered in three races - the 800, 1,600- and 3,200-meters - and she has state caliber times in all three. Her fastest in the 800 has been a Telegram area best 2:21.96. She's also clocked a 5:35.11 in the 1,600 and owns a best of 12:03.51 in the 3,200.
"She wanted to try and run in all three (at state) so we put her in all of them at regional," Cook said. "She's just much stronger this season. Plus, we get the benefit of just running the 3,200 on Friday and she was fresh at Lakin when she ran the 12:03. We'll see how she does. It's something she wants to do, and if things go well, she's got an opportunity to do something special."
The Jackrabbits also have returning senior discus state champion Johnathan Miller, whose season-best of 167-9 is being challenged by Ashland junior Giles Fox, who threw 166-0 in winning the Pretty Prairie regional.
"Johnathan's struggled at times so I hope he can just go out and relax," Cook said. "If he throws the way I know he can, and the way he's thrown in practice, I think he's got 170-175 feet in him."
Wichita County also has its own distance ace in sophomore Paige Wells who advanced in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. Freshman Joshua Mehl also won the 2A regional 1,600.
For Turner and his SCHS track team, the key will be to go, compete and let the chips fall where they may.
"We're not deep enough to really think in terms of winning, but if things go well for us, and the others struggle a little, we could possibly be a top-three team," Turner said. "Overall, we're pleased with the boys and how they competed. We had a couple of disappointments, but I'm sure that happens to every team."
Scott City's boys have entrants in the 100 (Dalton Smith), 200 (Smith and AJ Kough), the 400 (Tyler Hess), 800 (Joey Meyer), 3,200 (Miles Pearson) and also qualified their three relay teams.
"We just tell the kids to go and have a good time, do the best you can and see what happens," Turner said. "There's too many variables to worry about other things."
Freshman Kelly Wycoff was the lone Lady Beaver to qualify. She made it in both the 200 and 400-meter dashes where her best season marks are 27.16 and 1:00.56.
"I'm very proud of her, she's done a terrific job this season," Turner said. "She's finished strong this season and I'm just pretty happy for her."
Moscow will have a small contingent on the boys side as they return their state champion 4x400 and 4x800-meter relay teams intact. Those four are Osvaldo Granillo, Breck Roop, Raymundo Garcia and Jonatan Manriquez. All are juniors with the exception of the senior Garcia.
Granillo will also compete in the 100- and 200-meters, while Garcia and Roop also will challenge in the 800.
Nicole Kinser, a Hugoton sophomore, is back to defend her 4A triple jump title where she has a season best mark of 37-0. The Eagles have one of the top 4A distance runners in Heber Jimenez, who posted season best marks in the 1,600 (4:32.12) and 3,200 (9:56.27). Teammate Patrick Weaver has the fastest 800 (2:00.07) in the area.
Satanta's Stephanie Caro is near the top of Class 1A in the girls 100- (12.28) and 200-meters (25.91).
Holcomb's Kyshia Prieto and Lakin's Allie Jones will be among the contenders in Class 3A 100/300 hurdle races.
Lindsay Wehkamp is among the current leaders in Class 2A in both the long jump (17-4 ČŠ) and high jump (5-5) while South Gray's Mikayla Skidmore has cleared 10-6 in the girls pole vault in Class 1A.
Ulysses junior Kaylea Britton is among the top performers in Class 4A in both the shot put (41-7) and discus (115-11).
Among other area favorites are Lakin's Colby Hamel in the 3A shot put (51-9), Stanton County's Johnathan Carrasco in the 2A triple jump (43-8.75) and Ulysses' Josh Jarnagin in the 4A 110-meter hurdles (14.99).
Cimarron's Garrison LeRock in the 2A high jump (6-8), Stanton County's Quinn Kendrick (14-0) and Syracuse's Kyle Dupree in the 2A pole vault (14-0 and 13-6) are also favorites. Wichita County's Hannah Mehl will also compete in the 2A javelin (119-8).
See schedule, qualifiers in Scoreboard, Page B2.