By BRETT MARSHALL
CIMARRON — Make no mistake about it, track athletes and coaches love warm weather with virtually no wind.
Mother Nature must have been listening on Friday.
The seven teams which competed at the Cimarron Invitational to help start the 2012 season took full advantage of near-ideal conditions (76 degrees, 7 mph wind at start time) to compile marks that would normally not be seen until mid to late season.
"It's just a reflection of the great warm weather we've had for preseason," said Cimarron coach Dennis Hornung. "Everybody feels like they're way ahead of where they normally are."
The host Lady Bluejays captured the team title with 165 points to runner-up Ellinwood's 147. The Ellinwood boys rallied in the final events to overtake Holcomb and capture the team chase with 103 points to 98 for the Longhorns.
Highlighting the day's performances was Moscow's Osvaldo Granillo, the four-time gold medal-winner from the Class 1A state track meet in 2011, who won three individual events to celebrate the first meet of his senior season.
On the girls side, Cimarron senior Lindsay Wehkamp came within an inch of her school record in the high jump when she cleared 5-04 and just missed a chance at the new mark when she barely brushed the bar at 5-06. She had a season-best 5-05 a year ago while claiming the Class 2A state championship. Lady Bluejay freshman Kari Blattner was a double-winner in claiming the 800-meters (2:42.26) and 1,600-meters (5:53.29). Her freshman running mate, Joisan Smith, captured the 3,200-meters in 12:27.17.
Another double-winner on the girls side was Holcomb sophomore Kyshia Prieto, who swept the two hurdle races, winning the 100-meters in 16.82 while posting a winning mark of 48.93 in the 300-meter hurdles. She had placed fifth and third in those events in the 2011 Class 3A state meet.
Holcomb's boys were paced by sophomore Heath Tucker, who garnered firsts in the triple jump (40-11.50) and the 300-meter hurdles (40.19) while finishing second in the 110-meter high hurdles (15.51) and anchoring the Longhorns' winning 4x400-meter relay team (3:29.41). Tucker, along with teammates Tyler LaSalle, Brendan Thomas and Michael Bandaras captured the Class 3A state 4x4 in 2011 and Friday's mark was less than 1.5 seconds off their state winning time.
The day's top performance, though, came from Granillo, who swept the 100-meters (11.07), 200-meters (22.67) and the 400-meters (50.01). He ran on the Wildcats' runner-up 4x400-meter relay team as well.
It was, in Granillo's words, "a good day to get some extra work in and see where my marks are to know what I've got to do."
Granillo was impressive in cruising to easy wins in all three of the sprints. He defeated Meade's Jett Little by 0.35 of a second in the 100 before blowing by South Gray's Wyatt Slaven in the 200 (0.73 of a second) and in the 400 (2.44 seconds). Slaven was the 2011 Class 1A champion at 400-meters. His top marks a year ago were 11.01 and 22.44.
"It was a lot better day than I expected, I didn't plan on any big times," Granillo said of his season debut. "We just found out a couple of days ago that we were coming up here, so it's good to see where I'm at. It was a good way to make a statement."
Granillo signed in February to attend Central Missouri State University where he will compete in the decathlon (10 events).
"I'm a lot stronger, leaner this year, so I feel like I can run better than last year," Granillo said. "I ran summer track, did football and basketball so I've stayed in good shape. Plus, we've had good weather to train in the last couple of weeks."
Holcomb's Tucker, too, said he was pleased with his first competition of the season.
"I've gained about 15-20 pounds and we've got a lot of guys out there pushing each other in practice," Tucker said. "It just feels good, but it was tough coming off the curve and hitting that breeze I knew I just had to keep attacking the next hurdle."
Tucker's hurdle time was just 0.03 off the school record while his triple jump mark established a meet record for the Bluejay Invite.
"I really hadn't worked much on the triple jump, so to get that felt really good," Tucker said.
Wehkamp, who is headed to Western Nebraska Community College on a volleyball scholarship, said she was more than thrilled with her jump of 5-04.
"I hadn't even really tried to do any jump work until early in the week," said Wehkamp. "I felt like my second try at 5-06 was my best. If I can get my approach just a little further from the bar and get my peak position, I think I can go higher. It feels good, and it's a good start to the season."
Wehkamp was pushed in the event by her freshman teammate, Eva Koopman, who cleared 5-02 and just missed 5-04.
"It's fun having her jumping," Wehkamp said. "I like it, she really motivates me and keeps me focused."
Wehkamp also finished second in her other specialty — long jump — going 16-09.75 to just finish behind Meade's Tarah Wiens (16-10.75). All this despite the fact she spiked herself on the left leg when going through stretching drills prior to the long jump.
"I was just doing my usual stretch and my foot slipped down and I gouged my leg pretty good," said Wehkamp. "It was pretty bloody. They cleaned it up, put a wrap on it and I just went and jumped. It didn't really bother me much."
For Prieto, the season opener came less than three weeks after the Lady Longhorns' basketball season came to a close at the 3A state tournament. Unsure about whether she would compete this season, Prieto just began practicing less than two weeks prior to the season opening meet.
"Now that I'm out, it feels better, but I didnt' meet my expectations," Prieto said. "The 100 was good and I know it's early, but I know my time can improve."
Her 300 time was just 1.17 seconds slower than her best mark of 2011 (47.76) and it came against a headwind which hit the runners coming off the final curve.
"You just try to finish the 300 and coming off the curve it was just tough," Prieto said. "I actually thought I did a good job with my steps because I didn't have to stutter today. It's a good starting point."
Holcomb boys coach Lindall Cox said he was pleased with the overall performance of his team.
"Brendan (Thomas) ran his personal best in the 1,600 (4:44.90) and Heath (Tucker) got off to a great start today," Cox said. "I thought out 4x4 really did a great job to run that kind of time today. They weren't in the 3:20s until nearly the end of the season a year ago."
See results in Scoreboard, Page D2.