Down to the wire: Final relay event decides team titles at Holcomb Invite
By KEVIN THOMPSON
By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — It seemed only fitting that team scores heading into the final event of the day were so close, coming down to the 4x400-meter relay to establish the winners in both divisions of the Holcomb Invitational.
Colby overtook the Scott City girls, getting second while the Lady Beavers took fourth in the last event to claim the team title, 89.5-88.5.
The Ulysses boys and Goodland were tied heading into the final relay.
Scott City maintained a lead on every lap of the 4x400 relay, but the battle was for second and third to determine the team title.
Ulysses held the lead after the second and third laps, but Goodland leaned past the Beavers by just .08 at the end and took the trophy 99-97.
That was the fun part on the 12-team side.
After hot and windy conditions for many of these teams at Scott City on Tuesday, the warm and calm at the Holcomb track were a welcome relief to the participants.
On the boys side, Ian Rudzik claimed three individual and one relay title, while Holcomb's Heath Tucker made his final home meet as a Longhorn a memorable one, taking four individual golds.
For the girls, Scott City's Kelly Wycoff won all three of her individual events, and Ulysses' Chisolm Branscum was a two-time winner.
Rudzik won the discus with a throw of 132 feet, 4 inches, a dozen feet ahead of teammate Hector Torres.
He threw the shot 49-05.5, over five feet farther than runner-up Luis Sanchez of Hugoton.
Then he beat out Todd Sneathen of Goodland in the 100 meters by .03 seconds, running 11.25 seconds.
Rudzik also helped Ulysses take the 4x100 relay title in 44.01 seconds.
Tucker believes he finalized his decision on what four events to run in regionals.
He easily won the 110-meter hurdles in 14.92 seconds, holding back in that race because he had to run the 200-meter finals shortly after.
He won that in 22.74 seconds, ahead of Wichita County's Jantz Budde (23.32).
The defending state champion in the 300 hurdles won that event in 40.94 seconds, ahead of Brad Hemann of Hugoton (42.45).
And earlier in the afternoon, he won the long jump, going 21-04.25.
He now has his four events to run at regionals.
"I tried to get out quick on the 300s. I took a quick glance both ways on the straightaways and conserved energy for the 200," he said.
That little bit of laying off put him .04 seconds off the school record, which he was going for, but he knew he had to save something for his quick turnaround race.
Hitting the sixth hurdle "pretty hard" didn't help either, but all he sustained were a couple of bruises.
But the senior felt good about the 110-meter hurdles, calling it his best race of the season.
"I'm liking where I'm at right now," he said. "It's a good place to be this time of the year. I'm happy."
Last year Tucker didn't even run his first meet until the week after the Holcomb event, following hip surgery and other nagging injuries.
Wycoff ran away in the 100 meters, 12.58 seconds to 13.30 from runner-up Kara Simmons of Lakin.
She held off Jessi Arnold of Ulysses in the 200, 25.42 seconds to 26.71.
And she also took home gold in the long jump at 15-07.
"These were perfect conditions," she said, noting how rough Tuesday was. "I've been hoping for a day like this for a variety of reasons."
Her long jump experience was interesting, she said. She was scheduled in the fourth flight and watched a teammate compete in the third, during which time she said she was going to do her prep work.
"I heard my name and they said they'd moved my flight into the third," Wycoff said. "I marked my steps, but I didn't get to run through or anything, so I just went. It was kind of a rush."
But her sprints felt good, she said, noting that her coach has been emphasizing ways for her to relax during the races.
Teammate Bailey Nickel took the 100-meter hurdles in 16.09 seconds, a race she feels comfortable running.
"I really don't think about it. I just run it now," she said. Last year she ran 15.9, and she hopes to get down to that time again by regionals.
"I can get there if I just keep working on it," she said. "I had a huge smile on my face when I got done. This is definitely my favorite event."
Also winning easily on the boys' side was Josh Mehl of Wichita County. By the time he crossed the finish line in 4:40.02, he was 21 seconds ahead of second place, who was just exiting the final curve.
He said he wanted to get under 4:30, but having nobody pushing him stymied that.
Last week at the KU relays he ran a 4:33, five seconds off his personal best.
Brett Meyer of Scott City won the 800 meters, edging out Adam Simmerman of Goodland for the second time this week.
Tuesday it was in the wind; Friday was perfect conditions.
"We ran side-by-side the whole way," he said. "I just took him in the end. He cut me off (entering the final curve), but I got him back. I like this better than when I'm running by myself."
His time was 2:05.25, just two-tenths of a second ahead of Simmerman.
Branscum won gold in both the 800 meters (2:29.39) and the 1,600 meters (5:29.17).
Arnold won the 300 hurdles in 47.57 seconds.
And Ulysses' winning time in the 4x400 relay was 4:16.92, just edging out Colby by .3 seconds.
The only other area winner was freshman Kaylee Line of Lakin, who took the high jump at 5-0.