By BRETT MARSHALL
Mother Nature's wrath took a break for at least one day.
On Tuesday, area track and field athletes took advantage of the warm temperature, mild wind conditions at the Garden City Invitational, conducted for the first time at Buffalo Stadium.
Temperatures were in the low 70s when field events got underway at 1:30 p.m. and by late afternoon it had jumped to the low 80s. The wind velocity went from about 15 mph down to 7 mph and then back up to nearly 20 mph by the time the meet concluded at about 9:30 p.m.
Overall, though, the athletes and coaches had no weather complaints. After a brutal spring, they were simply happy to be competing under good conditions.
There were numerous highlights for Garden City High School and area school standouts, as the host Lady Buffs won the girls team division with 146 points to runner-up Dodge City with 109. On the boys front, Liberal appeared to be making a comeback, as the Redskins scored 189 points to easily outdistance the Buffs, who finished with 125 points for second.
For Garden City's girls, Alex Miller was a double-winner, capturing the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs with times of 5:25.84 and 11:54.15. Kayla Doll ran a personal best 2:20.38 in winning the 800-meters. Two girls garnered gold medals in the field events — Taylor Linenberger clearing 8-06 to win the pole vault, while Taryn Tempel leaped 35-03.50, her season best, to claim the triple jump. The Lady Buffs' 4x800-meter relay team of Neysa Harman, Kayla and Katy Doll, and Miller, finished first with a time of 10:01.32.
Garden City's boys, meanwhile, got firsts from Greyson Tempel in the 100-meters (11.18), Jonathan DuVall in the 110-meter hurdles with a personal best 14.29 seconds, Tristan Nanninga in the high jump (6-2), Aaron Vasquez in the pole vault (14-0) and the 4x100-meter relay team of Duvall, Greyson and Dusty Tempel, and Aaron Vasquez (42.88, a season best).
From area schools, which included Scott City, Ulysses and Holcomb, there also were a number of top performances.
Scott City junior sprinter Kelly Wycoff was a triple-gold medal winner, taking the 100 (12.71), 200 (26.05) and 400 (59.72), and then anchoring the winning 4x400-meter relay team, with a season-best time of 4:11.19, just edging out Garden City, which finished in 4:11.59.
Ulysses' Tate Annis won his two specialties — the long jump (22-00.50) and the 200-meters (22.23) while finishing second to Greyson Tempel in the 100-meters.
Holcomb's Tyler LaSalle clocked a 50.87 mark to win the 400-meters while teammate Shane Bennett outdueled Brenner Wells of Scott City in the javelin, winning with a throw of 169-06 to Wells' 168-04. Bennett's throw was more than seven feet farther than his previous best.
For Garden City's DuVall, the day provided both an emotional high and a big letdown in his two hurdle races. His 110 time eclipsed his previous best of 14.52 by nearly .3 of a second as he ran his best race of the season in the event. Later, however, he struggled with the 300-meter intermediates, getting a poor start, hitting the first hurdle, switching feet as he cleared the second hurdle and then hitting at least two more hurdles before the race was over. Liberal's Trenton Hammond ran a blistering 37.47 to win the event, Holcomb's Heath Tucker clocked a 38.91 in just his second meet back after recovering from a severely sprained ankle, and DuVall was third in 39.27.
"I got too close to that first hurdle and then I had to stutter and switch feet on the next one," said a disappointed DuVall after the 300s. "It's extremely disappointing and it really sucks. I don't get to run at home much, so to do that in front of the home crowd is really tough."
Conversely, DuVall was thrilled with his race in the 110s.
"The 110s were the best race I've ever had," DuVall, the 6A state champion in both hurdle races in 2012, said. "I had a magnificent start. It was the best ever coming out of the blocks. I stayed close to the hurdle and made a clean sweep through every one. I'll just go back to work on the 300s, fix the things that need to be fixed, and it will get better."
Doll's 800 time eclipsed her previous personal best of 2:21.41 when she placed at the 2012 state track meet in Wichita. She had run 2:22.27 earlier this season, and was hoping to break that 2:20 barrier, but just missed.
"I wanted to go out there and break the 2:20 so bad," Kayla Doll said. "I've got to figure where in the race to be able to pick it up. I'm wondering if there is something in the first 400 because I came across faster (1:06) than usual. I wondered if I'd still be able to hold it, but I did. I just need to tell myself that I can trust my training and myself and go out faster than I have been. It was really encouraging that I could hang on."
Miller was subdued even though she claimed two firsts and anchored the winning 4x800 baton team.
"In any race you run, you always know you can do better," Miller said. "I have a goal in mind and I just need to get to working toward that goal. I'm looking forward to the next time out and continuing to try and get better."
Scott City's Wycoff, last season's state 200-meter champion and runner-up in the 100 and 400, had strong marks in her three races, but not the fastest yet of the season. But her unofficial 58.2 seconds in anchoring the winning Lady Beavers' 4x400-meter relay offered a glimpse at her strength as she overcame a 25-yard deficit to catch and pass Garden City's Kayla Doll to win the event by just .40 of a second.
"For right now, with electronic timing, I'd say I had a decent day," Wycoff said. "The 200 felt OK. I didn't feel as if it was a great start. I need two to three more of those tough practices, but so far I'd say it might have been my best overall day."
For Ulysses' Annis, his effort was even more impressive when noting that he had competed in all four events just 24 hours earlier at the delayed Hugoton Invitational.
"I'm pleased coming off a full meet yesterday (Monday)," said Annis, who has signed with Wichita State University for next year, as has DuVall. "I was pleased with how I finished off my day (200-meter win while lowering his season best mark by .08 of a second)."
Annis, who suffered a mouth infection nearly a month ago and had to miss most of a week of practice, is just now rounding into form as teams head into the final three weeks of the regular season.
"We're taking baby steps to get back to where we want to be," Annis said. "It's been so nice just to be able to get back out and compete again."
Garden City travels to Derby on Friday while Ulysses is at the Kearny County Relays in Lakin. Scott City travels to Russell and Holcomb heads north to the Colby Invitational.
Results in Scoreboard, A11.