Weather, Ulysses big winners in Hugoton




HUGOTON — It's hard to tell who was the bigger winner, the individual medalists or the weather.

After a week of horrible winds and blowing dust, the runners, throwers and jumpers at the Hugoton Invitational found the conditions ideal on Friday.

Ulysses won the girls title 104-101 over Meade, and Lakin was third with 77 points.

On the boys side, Ulysses scored 142 points to edge out the host Eagles (131), and well ahead of Lakin (61).

Both the Ulysses and Hugoton boys won five golds each to make for the close race.

The Tigers got a double win from Tregg Rodriguez, who went 6 feet, 7 inches in the high jump to break his area best by three inches.

He also won the triple jump, going 40-10.25.

Erasmo Cortez gave Ulysses another win in the discus, throwing 138-01.

The Tiger's 4x100-meter relay also set the area's best time in that event, winning in 43.85 seconds.

Ulysses' Chisolm Branscum was a triple winner on the girls' side, taking the 1,600 meters in 5:40.89, and the 800 meters.

She also ran a leg on the winning 4x400 relay team that guaranteed a Lady Tigers win.

Branscum found herself locked in a battle for three laps with Jenna Black of Stanton County. Ten meters before the gun lap, she overtook Black and cruised to the win.

Ironically, that's a race she really doesn't know how to run but has found great success.

"I don't really know how to run the mile, which sounds really odd," she said. "It's really an advantage that we have a lot of good girl distance runners in southwest Kansas. I just kind of run with them."

She doesn't know how to set a pace, she added, but it's worked so far.

She also ran the 400 meters, placing third in trying to select another event for state.

Ulysses won gold in both the girls and boys 200-meter dash races.

Jessi Arnold clocked in at 26.09 seconds (her previous best was 26.66), and Juan Anguiano came in at 23.12, a quarter second faster than his season best.

Arnold also won the 400 meters, but in a slightly slower time than normal, 1:02.10.

"She works hard, and today she knew she had no other race after that (she didn't run the 300 hurdles) so she ran full out," Ulysses head coach Kyle Shryock said of Arnold's 200 meters.

"We know she's capable of running exceptional times," he said. "And she's been working on getting out of the blocks the last couple weeks."

Anguiano beat out teammate Kyler Barlow by just two-tenths of a second in his win.

"The finish is probably my best part of this race because my start wasn't the best," he said. "Teammates pushing each other makes a difference."

Coach Kyle Shryock has been impressed with both of his teams' competitiveness this season, especially with such a young group.

"The kids have really been working hard and the young people have bought into the program," he said. "It's competition, and they know it, even during practicing. They're really progressing nice with how they're working at it."

Isaac Castro thrilled the home town when he won the 1,600 meters in 4:43.97, nearly six seconds better than his season best and now the second-best time in the area.

"I just prepared myself because I knew the weather was going to be really good," he said. "I got to stay focused because I knew it would be nice to run. Just when I got on the track I felt really good."

Castro said he has a 4:35 time in him to qualify for state.

Teammate Frederick Logan won the javelin with a throw of 156-0, and Mitchell Persinger won the long jump (19-07.25).

Hugoton took wins in the 4x800 and 4x400 relay.

The Lady Eagles also got a win in the triple jump from Ana Pena with a leap of 33-02.

Sublette's Sebastian Morales had a good day, taking the boys 400-meter dash in 52.78 seconds, the second-fastest time in the area this season.

Also ecstatic with her performance was Lakin's Kara Simmons, who shaved nearly two seconds off her 300-meter hurdles time, winning the event in 47.96 seconds, tying her for the second-fastest time in the area.

Not bad for the senior who is coming off stress fractures, which has hampered her mentally, but her coaches have been training her to ease back into things.

Friday's win came with a better first half than she has been running, she said.

"Usually I've been lagging it on the first four hurdles then taking off on the straightaway," Simmons said. "Today, I got after it better earlier."

Lakin coach Jeff Fuss was impressed with Simmons' performance, as well.

"She put herself in a really good position for regionals," he said. "We've been telling her to trust the training; things will come around. She was very excited. I think she'll be at 46 seconds by regionals, and be a serious contender at state."

Lakin's Robert Aparicio continued his dominance in the pole vault, once again jumping the area's best at 13-6, but he just missed on each attempt at 14, a personal best he set last season.

"He's so consistent and tough-minded. We have not had much practice time battling Mother Nature," Fuss said. "But he's such a gamer. And he's getting used to a new pole. I think he can go 14-6 or 15."

Aparicio missed on his two opening jumps at 12-6, but he hit his next three jumps to get the win.

"That shows his mettle," Fuss said.

Lakin also got a 1-2 finish in the girls high jump as freshman Kaylee Line went 5-2 (tying the area's best) and sophomore Robin Ritsema went 5-0.

"That puts both in the top four or five in our regional," Fuss said. "I'd love to get those two to the state meet. It would really be a boost for our program."

Lakin's other girls win came in the 4x800 relay where they went 10:58.77, the third-best time in the area and the first time they've gone under 11 minutes.

Ulysses will compete Tuesday in Garden City and join a number of area teams Friday in Lakin.

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