Scott City's Wycoff, Ulysses' Arnold inched out by stellar competition
By KEVIN THOMPSON
WICHITA — Sometimes all you can do is all you can do.
And sometimes all that glitter isn't gold, but silver.
Such was the storyline Saturday for area girls at the state track meet in Wichita, where the only gold was earned in effort, not previous medals.
Scott City's Kelly Wycoff and Ulysses' Jessi Arnold both earned silver medals in two events to lead the area girls' performances at Cessna Stadium.
Wycoff was runner-up in two sprints; Arnold in two hurdle races.
After competing for three years at the 3A level, Wycoff made her final Saturday at the state meet memorable in 4A, picking up four medals to give her 13 for her career.
After placing fifth in the 100 meters earlier in the day (she was the winner last year in 3A), she recorded the second-fastest time in the entire state in the 400 meters.
Unfortunately, Morgan Lober of Baldwin ran the fastest time in the same race.
Wycoff's 56.98 seconds placed second behind Lober's 56.82 in a race that came down to the literal wire. Both times would have easily won the 5A and 6A races.
Two hours later, the two-time defending 3A champion in her favorite race, the 200 meters, ran against Andre'a Newton of Coffeyville, who ran the best time in the state to take that title.
Wycoff finished second in 25.38 seconds, or .22 seconds out of first.
Two silver medals, but solid gold performances.
In lane three to run the 400, Wycoff made up the stagger on the back stretch and caught Lober as they emerged from the final turn. The duo ran side-by-side the final 80 meters before Lober got the lean.
Wycoff got on Lober's hip, and it kept her in the race to the end.
"I got so close, but I started to really, really lose it. I mean, my legs were ready to give out," Wycoff said. "She had just a little more endurance than me."
It was her third straight runner-up finish in the 400.
Her 25.38 time in the 200 was slower than last year (25.02), which was disappointing, she said, but she still found the positive in her loss.
She had a good start and felt she had the lead in the turn, but she said she could hear Newton behind her and knew it was getting close in a hurry.
"She came right around the first 100 (meters) and she was right there," Wycoff said. "Then I kind of knew, as she was gradually getting a little more space between us."
In maybe the most emotional race of her state career, Wycoff anchored the 4x400 relay, running her team from sixth to third, giving the senior quartet a memorable end to their high school careers.
The same group finished second last year in 3A.
Bailey Nickel finished the opening leg in second place and handed the baton to Aubrey Davis, who turned it over to Megan Thornburg, both of whom were in sixth place after their exchanges but kept the Beavers within striking distance.
"I tried to run my own race and saw how many were ahead of me, but I said, you know what, this is my last race and I don't care — I'm just going to run it for my teammates," Davis said.
Thornburg said she wanted to give Wycoff a chance to pick off some runners.
Wycoff said seeing more than one runner in front of her motivated her to eclipse as many as she could, and she used a 58.26 second split to do it.
In her first time at state in the 100 hurdles, Arnold couldn't find too much negative about Saturday's final — except that she didn't win it.
The Ulysses junior finished second Saturday morning, running a 15.73, just .07 seconds from gold.
Despite a slow start out of the blocks, Arnold ran even with the top runners through the end.
"I tried everything I could," she said, but it was just short of enough at the end.
"I could have gone faster at the beginning, come out of my blocks harder," she said. "But my form was good, and I three-stepped the whole way."
In the 300 hurdles, Arnold ran into another unique situation. /to win that event, she needed to run the best time in the state.
Instead, she finished second behind the girl who did just that.
Arnold moved up from fourth to second with a strong final stretch, though, to record a 46.59 behind Leah Reichenberger of Andale, who ran a state-best 44.73.
"It took me a long time to catch up. I was in fourth and decided to start sprinting because I didn't want to get fourth," Arnold said.
She made her move coming out of the final curve.
"I was exhausted. I worked to keep my form and everything," she said. "I'm satisfied."
Both silvers are incentives for next year, she said.
Scott City's Nickel finished fifth in the same race, two spots better than last year, running a 16.26 time.
Moscow's Kaitlyn Dobie finished eighth in the 1A 300 hurdles after she caught her foot on the final hurdle, taking her out of an apparent fourth place.
The Greeley County girls overcame a slow start in the 4x800 relay to finish sixth in 2A (10:38.61).
Kari Blattner of Cimarron was seventh in the 3A 400 meters, and Brook Briggs of Sublette was fourth in 2A.
Chisolm Branscum of Ulysses finished sixth in the 4A 1,600 meters, and fourth in the 800 meters.
Mia Wilson of Syracuse followed Friday's third place in the triple jump with a seventh in the long jump.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
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