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Kinser, Steimel, Wycoff each grab 2 gold medals

Published 5/28/2013

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

WICHITA — Three Garden City Telegram area girls track and field athletes brought home two gold medals each while another claimed a single first-place title, highlighting Saturday's final day of the 2013 Kansas State Track and Field Championship at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.

Hugoton and Stanton County seniors Nicole Kinser and Mauri Steimel won their second gold medal in as many days on Saturday, while Scott City junior sprinter Kelly Wycoff took home top honors in the 100-meters (12.38) and 200-meters (26.46) while taking a silver medal in the 400 meters (58.14). Cimarron sophomore Morgan Ediger moved up in her medal performance by winning the Class 3A 300-meter hurdles with a time of 46.64, equaling her season best time, besting Burlington's Jacquelyn O'Connor (47.24) and her Hi-Plains League rival, Kara Simmons, of Lakin, who was third in 47.45.

Satanta's surprising 4x400-meter team of Veronica Longoria, twin sisters Vanessa and Valerie Caro, and Emma Stalker raced to a 4:17.75 time in winning the Class 1A relay race. Kinser, who is headed to Hutchinson Community College for volleyball and track next fall, used her final jump of her prep career to claim the Class 4A long jump for the second time with a leap of 17-6.50, just 1.25 inches ahead of runnerup Abby Simon of Andale.

Kinser, who had barely claimed her third triple jump gold medal on Friday (by 1.25 inches), waited until her final jump to win the long jump and defend her 2012 title. Her leap of 17-6.50 was 1.25 inches ahead of runner-up Abby Simon of Andale, who went 17-5.25. Kinser's previous best on Saturday had been 16-09.75, well under her season best of 17-8.50. She had won in 2012 with a leap of 17-05.

"It's really nice to win and I'm glad I got it," Kinser said. "I'd been behind the board, but this time I hit the board. I'd been cutting my steps short but my coach told me to just run, run and jump. That's what I did and it worked at the end. It's a good way to finish and I'm glad it finally happened."

She completes her prep career with five gold medals, three in the triple jump and two in the long jump.

"I just wish I could have gotten that fourth gold, but getting two in the long jump kinda makes up for it," Kinser said.

Steimel dominated the Class 2A shot put competition when she uncorked a throw of 41-10 on her final attempt, and won the event by nearly three feet. Her previous best throw in her final prep event had been 39-05, which would still have provided her a first-place finish.

"I love coming to this meet, having a chance to throw in front of a lot of people," said Steimel, who had won the discus the day before. "It's great. My throws were good, not great. I scratched on a throw that would have been over 43 (feet), so I was kinda upset. Then, on my last throw I got the 41-10. I was happy that I got something close to my best (42-04)."

Steimel will head off to Emporia State University where she plans to specialize in the two throws and perhaps add in the hammer throw. She will be in a pre-dental program of studies.

Wycoff completed her third prep season unbeaten in both short sprint races, repeating her win in the 200 from 2012. Just a year ago, she had finished second in the 100 and 400 before taking the 200. This time, it was two golds and a silver as opposed to two silvers and a gold in her sophomore year.

"It's really nice, being a junior and knowing that I can still run well and have some success," Wycoff said. "I've been here and I still get a little nervous, but not about the crowds. I was looking forward to the beginning of the season without Mandy (Wilson of Rossville), but I should know that there will always be some girls who are stepping up."

Wycoff, who got out of the blocks cleanly, easily won the 100 as her time of 12.38 seconds was well in front of the 12.62 by runner-up Beth Francis of Sedgwick. And while she ran her season best time of 58.14 in the 400, it wasn't enough to overtake freshman Claire Theis of Kingman, who ran a blistering 57.77. In that race, Wycoff made up about 15 meters on Theis in the closing 200. But as she had done a year earlier, Wycoff responded with a strong 200-meters into the teeth of a stiff south wind to win in 26.49, more than a second off her fastest time of the season (25.02). Theis was third in that race and Wycoff walked off with her second gold of the day, and a big smile on her face.

"I didn't notice it (wind) so much in the 400, but coming around the curve in the 200, it just like hit me in the face," Wycoff said. "I guess that's an advantage western Kansas kids have since we run in it all the time. I had a good start again and it's my favorite race, so I just felt really good the entire way."

Her 26.49 was .77 of a second ahead of second-place Taylor Needham of Cheney, who also was third in the 100.

For the Satanta relay unit, it was just the fifth time they had competed as a group all season, and capped off a strong final three weeks of the season with their gold medal effort. The Caro sisters are just freshmen, Stalker is a junior and Longoria the lone senior on the squad.

"Winning this is an amazing experience," a happy Longoria said. "It's my first time coming to state in any sport and to be a senior and win this, first place is just amazing."

The Caro sisters are freshmen, and the ran the middle splits of the race while Stalker, a junior, anchored for the Lady Indians.

"I didn't know how we'd do," Valerie Caro said. "I was really nervous and I didn't want to fall back."

Her twin, Vanessa, said running the 400 was hard, especially finishing into the wind.

"I'm dead tired, but this means a lot," Vanessa Caro said. "It means a lot to be running with my sister. We get to run for three more years."

Stalker took the baton from Vanessa Caro and never relinquished the lead to runner-up Linn, which finished with a time of 4:19.98.

"Winning is like the most amazing thing in the world," said Stalker. "We've never been a state champion in anything. I knew we were in first and I just had to keep running."

For Cimarron's Ediger, the victory in the 300-meter hurdles was a step up from her fourth-place finish as a freshman while Simmons, a junior, moved up two spots to third from fifth in 2012. Ediger used a strong finish over the final 150 meters into that south wind.

"It's awesome," Ediger said of the victory. "I can't explain it. I feel amazing right now. I felt like I ran it just like I wanted to. I stayed with the pack, and then finished strong. Its (winning) has been a goal all year. After all three girls graduated last year, this is what I wanted."

In one of the most dramatic and emotional races of the day, Wichita County's Paige Wells, who is headed to Wichita State University to run track next year, came up micro-seconds short for the second straight year in the Class 2A 1,600-meter run, losing in a photo-finish to Lauren Harrell of Maranatha Academy, 5:19.77 to 5:19.80.

It was just a year ago that the Lady Indians' distance star had come up just .05 of a second short in the same race to Lincoln's Jenna Farris. Harrell, a sophomore, made up about 20 meters over the final 100 on Wells, and then leaned just enough at the finish line to leave Wells heartbroken once again.

"Deja vu," said Wells, choking back tears. "After last year, I knew everyone was out to get me and it's just one of those races that is just guts. I know I have the heart and determination. I've been doubting myself most of this year. My times had not been good, yet I had been winning. I ran nearly my best times today and Friday, so I'm happy with that. Honestly, I had no idea where she was and right when I cross the finish line, I saw her. I had looked earlier and it didn't seem like she was that close. It sucks, it really does." Wells, who leaves a stellar prep career behind without the reward of a single gold medal, ran a few hours later and placed fifth in the 800, the same as she had done in 2012.

"Getting boxed in didn't help at all," said Wells. "I was determined I was going to place. I wasn't going to go out without getting another medal. It was my last high school race, and while my time wasn't so good, I gave all I had. Just like last year, the 1,600 seemed to take so much out of my legs."

Still, Wells was able to medal in every race but one in which she competed during her four year cross country and track career.

In total, that amounts to 11 track medals (2 freshman, 4 sophomore, 2 junior, 3 senior) and four top 10 medals (a 2nd, 4th, 3rd and 10th) in Class 2A cross country. The 10th in the 2012 cross country came just months after undergoing surgery to repair both legs which were afflicted with compartment syndrome, a limb- and life-threatening condition which occurs after an injury, when there is not a sufficient amount of blood to supply the muscles and nerves with oxygen and nutrients because of the raised pressure within the compartment

Wells had run her fastest 3,200 time of the season by nearly a minute on Friday night en route to a fourth-place finish (11:46.41) and then had her season best in the 1,600. She came back and courageously took fifth in the 800 with a time of 2:31.40 to end her prep career.

On Sunday, her distance coach, Shad Mehl, said in a telephone interview that when Wells returned to Leoti she was taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with mononucleosis. Wells had said in a Saturday interview that she had not felt well all week and thought it was flu-like conditions.

"When you consider what she had and to go run like she did, getting nearly her best times in both the 1,600 and 3,200, it's really quite amazing," Mehl said of Wells. "She showed a lot of courage, a lot of guts."

There were other top performances who cracked into the top three of their respective events.

Ulysses sophomore Jessi Arnold was third in the Class 4A 300-meter hurdles (48.12) also placed sixth in the 200-meters (27.45). Dighton had a pair of thirds with freshman Dakota Hoffman placing in the 400-meters (1:00.72) and the 4x100-meter relay team of Leslie Speer, Hoffman, Kiara Budd and Diamond Brown running a 52.32. Satanta's same four girls from the winning 4x4 clocked a 53.02 to take fourth. The Greeley County Lady Jackrabbits got a third-place finish from their 4x800-meter relay team of Kelli Holthaus, Kashli Holthaus, Coraima Yanez and Megan Reding, with a season best time of 10:19.53.

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