Title-worthy: GCHS girls take home WAC championship





DODGE CITY — It had been 20 years since the Garden City High School girls track team walked off the track with the Western Athletic Conference title.

That two-decade-old drought is officially over after the Lady Buffs cruised to the 2012 WAC crown here at Memorial Stadium by scoring in nearly every one of the 18 events.

It was, in coach Mike Smith's words, "a true team effort, no doubt about it."

The Lady Buffs completed the meet with a total of 124 points to easily outpace runner-up Liberal's 98 points. Hays was third with 67, Great Bend fourth with 53 and Dodge City fifth with 33.

Garden's girls scored in 15 of the 18 events, missing only in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and the high jump.

"We had girls step up and perform really well for us in so many different events, it was a great day," Smith said.

On the boys side, the Buffs and Liberal tied for third with 55 points, as Hays easily defended its team title by scoring 173 points. Dodge City narrowly took second with 57 points while Great Bend finished fifth with 35 points.

Coincidentally, when the Lady Buffs won in 1992, Smith was one of the assistant coaches for distance runners in his first tenure at GCHS.

"It's been a long time ago, but I do remember it, but this one is certainly memorable because these girls really wanted it," Smith said.

It was a day that saw sophomore middle distance runner Kayla Doll overcome sickness to win the 800-meters (2:25.0) and teammate Alex Miller second in 2:29.31. Neither were season bests, but runners battled a stiff, 15-20 mph southwest wind on the backstretch for about 150 meters of each race which kept times slower than normal.

"I'm not disappointed because it was such a windy day," Doll said. "That just gives me more confidence. The backstretch was so tough. I just tried to push through."

Earlier in the day, she had been sick after eating a normal salad for lunch.

"I just felt cruddy until I got sick and then I felt better," Doll said with a smile. "It just hit me after lunch. I had felt fine before."

The Lady Buffs got a 1-3 finish in the javelin from Taylor Caine (108-05) and Shelby Heatwole (104-07) and that got the team off to a good start in the early field events.

Chinasa Ekweariri, putting together one of the strongest efforts of the day, finished first in the 200-meters (26.17), second in the 100-meters (12.72) and fourth in the shot put (31-00.50).

Smith said he couldn't remember having a track performer that showed such versatility in her performance from the field to the track.

"She had an amazing day, when you just think about someone who can throw the shot put and then run the 100 and 200 meters," Smith said. "She's one of our senior leaders and she really came through for us."

The Lady Buffs swept the three relay events, garnering firsts in the 4x100 (51.17), 4x400 (4:10.96) and the 4x800 (10:16.18). Katy Doll took second in the 1,600 (5:37.61), Taryn Tempel was runner-up in the 400-meters (1:02.25), while Chelsea Jackson and Katy Doll went 2-3 in the 3,200-meters (12:35.20 and 12:43.14).

Alex Telfair and Kristen Heiman also had a 2-3 finish in the long jump (16-06.75 and 16-02.50) while Tempel and Heiman were third and fifth in the triple jump (35-01.75 and 34-00.75). Audrey Gerber and Taylor Linenberger tied for third in the pole vault at 8-06.

For the Buffs' boys, Dustin Tempel produced the biggest surprise of the day by winning the 200-meters in a personal-best 22.53 seconds. Considering he had not broken 23 seconds before, the sophomore was more than happy and shocked when he looked up to see his time on the big scoreboard.

"I finally pushed out of the blocks and had a great start," Tempel said. "I've been working really hard on it. I got out quick enough and then when I came off the curve the wind just seemed to push me. I used my arms a lot, I'm just learning how to run the race so this just feels so great, ah so great."

Hurdler ace Jonathan DuVall had another strong day, yet managed just one win in the two events. He lost to Adam Deterding of Hays, but the HHS speedster clocked a 14.48 to DuVall's 14.65, just 0.03 of a second off his season best.

DuVall came back to capture the 300-meter hurdles in 39.19, just off his best of 38.92. He beat Liberal's dynamic duo of Trenton Hammond (39.81) and Adebayo Bramaih, both of whom had sub-39 times entering the race.

"That wind in the first 100 really hurt me with the time," DuVall said. "But I felt really strong coming down the finish. I'm just doing a better job of going over the hurdles with my left leg, which is different than the 110s. I've been uncomfortable with that, but it's feeling better all the time."

Smith said he was pleased with the boys' finish as he had to scratch Asa Gottsponer in several events due to a hamstring muscle condition.

"The boys all worked hard, we had some really good performances and you know when you get to the WAC, you're going to see state caliber competition," Smith said. "All in all, it was a good day."

Jeremy Ensz and Grayson Tempel went 3-4 in the 100-meters (11.10, 11.21); The 4x100-meter relay team was second (44.13); Jayden DeLaRosa was second in the 400-meters (52.35); the 4x400-meter relay placed third (3:31.95); Seth Alexander (48-08) and Brett Cady (12-06) were third in the shot put and pole vault.

The Buffs will be off until next Friday's Class 6A regional at Maize High School. The field events will get under way at 4 p.m. with track preliminaries starting at 5 p.m. and finals to follow. The top four finishers in each event qualify for the state track meet scheduled for May 25-26 at Wichita State University.

See Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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