By BRETT MARSHALL
DODGE CITY — The familiar confines of Memorial Stadium proved to be a good place on Friday for the Garden City High School track and field teams. Just one week after competing in the Western Athletic Conference meet, the Garden City teams were back at it in Boot Hill.
And while the Buffs, both boys and girls, had a number of stellar performances, it was the fact that the Buffs' boys brought home the regional team trophy with 109 points to runner-up Wichita South's 85 points that provided the biggest surprise of the day. The Lady Buffs, meanwhile, were second with 105.5 points, as Maize claimed the team title with 154 points.
"I'm just kind of speechless, but I just told the kids to go out compete, do your best and see how things go," GCHS head coach Mike Smith. "It's a great surprise, and by far our best performance since I've been here. It proves that when kids work hard, and then go give their best effort, things are possible that you usually don't expect. I certainly don't recall us leaving with two team trophies, so I'm immensely proud of the entire team. It was really quite an extraordinary day."
With qualifying spots on the line for the Class 6A state championships next weekend in Wichita, nobody took advantage of the "second" home for the Buffs more than senior Jonathan DuVall and junior Taryn Tempel.
DuVall swept his two specialties — clocking his fastest electronic time of the season, 14.07 in the 110-meter high hurdles, and then broke Anthony Brown's record in the 300-meter intermediates with a blistering 38.14, breaking Brown's 2006 mark of 38.41.
Making it even sweeter for the Wichita State University-bound DuVall was the long jump, where he went more than a foot farther than his previous best while winning the event with a leap of 22-11 1/2. That broke the 1972 mark of 22-10 1/2 set by David Foltz.
"I guess, other than winning the two races at state last year, this ranks up there with the best of them," a beaming DuVall said after he knocked 0.8 of a second off his previous best of 38.94. "Everything just felt good. I think with coach (Holloway) helping me understand that I don't need to be so close going over the hurdles in the 300, like I do in the 110s, that it just made the race go so much better, so much smoother."
But he was equally pleased with both his 110-meter hurdles and long jump performances.
"I'm really proud of the consistency that I've had in the 110s this season," DuVall said. "If I can maintain what I'm doing, then next week should be a lot of fun. The long jump was surprising. I just felt good all day long. Can't really say that I saw that coming, but it's pretty amazing to get another school record."
For Tempel, it was especially sweet as well, considering that she has been nursing a sore ankle for the past couple of weeks that had severely limited her practice time.
But she set personal bests in all three wins — going 17-4 3/4 in the long jump, 35-7 1/2 in the triple jump and running a 1:00.02 in the 400-meters. Her triple jump eclipsed her season best by four inches, while she lowered her 400 time by .24 of a second.
"I really haven't been jumping much this past week," Tempel said. "I've just tried to get the ankle feeling stronger, and for some reason, it really didn't bother me. I scratched my first jump (long jump) and then I just wanted to get a jump in and then try to get a good jump in the finals."
After the long jump, Tempel switched over to the next door pit and proceeded to soar 35-7 to claim the triple jump.
Then, she went to the track with a little respite and won the 400-meters.
"The 400 is my mental race," Tempel said with a grin. "I'm usually not able to relax for it. But I think the adrenaline from the jumps really put me in a good frame of mind and I just went out and ran. That last 100, I just told myself not to give up."
Aaron Vasquez continued his upward movement in the pole vault, clearing a personal best of 15-0, and then moved the bar to 15-06 1/4 with the hopes of erasing Chris Coleman's 1991 mark of 15-06. On his third attempt, he just brushed the bar with his chest on the way down, causing it to fall off the standard. Still, he left with a regional gold medal in his pocket.
Not bad, considering just six months ago he was living in Mexico before moving to Garden City in January. Vaulting in his homeland, Vasquez' previous best had been 13-06.
"I got my new pole and it felt great," said Vasquez, a senior. "I'll be working on a bigger pole this week for state, and plan to get a longer run. I think those two things will give me a shot at going for 16-0. That's my goal right now."
One of the biggest surprises of the night for the Buffs' boys was the performance of the 4x800-meter relay team of Jacob Thomas, Connor Schultz, Jalen Rowlands and Brett Cady, who clocked an 8:33.69, knocking more than five seconds off their best time of the season to finish second.
"It feels really good because for some of these guys, this was the only race for them to have a chance to get to state," said Cady, who also earned a trip in the pole vault with a fourth-place finish. "The wind was tough, but I thought all of us just fought through it. I felt better today so I think all the training that we've put in, just paid off. It feels great to get the team to Wichita."
The Lady Buffs' Kayla Doll won the 800-meters in 2:16.77, just edging Mackenzie Wedman of Maize (2:17.50). Doll's time was a personal best, and just missed the school mark of 2:16.4 set in 1985 by Laura Ostmeyer.
Later, the elder Doll sister anchored the winning 4x400-meter team with teammates Tempel, Taylor Linenberger and Harman, with a time of 4:12.51, just under a second off their best time of the season, 4:11.59.
The 4x800-meter relay team, which has the second fastest time in Class 6A this season, ran a 9:52.01, five seconds off their season best, but still good enough to win. That group consists of Alex Miller, Neysa Harman, Katy and Kayla Doll.
The boys' 4x100-meter relay team of DuVall, Darien McKnight, Dusty Tempel and Vasquez finished second in 44.09.
Dusty Tempel claimed a second in the 200-meters (22.61) and a third in the long jump (22-06.50). Thomas garnered a third in the boys 3,200-meters, running a 10:25.25.
Note: The boys team was without the services of junior standout sprinter Greyson Tempel, who was suspended for one meet for violation of school and team policy. His status for the state track meet was not immediately known.
The state meet will get underway on Friday morning at Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University. The two-day meet is among the elite state track events in the United States where all six classifications compete on the same track.
Results in Scoreboard, Page D2.