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Annis, Tucker, Wells take state titles

Published 5/28/2013

By KEVIN THOMPSON

sports@gctelegram.com

WICHITA — Some of the familiar faces from the Class 4-3-2-1A boys appeared atop the medal stand at the Kansas State Track and Field Championship at Cessna Stadium in Wichita on Saturday.

Others left their marks, as well.

Tate Annis of Ulysses and Heath Tucker of Holcomb claimed gold medals, along with a surprise win from Scott City's Brenner Wells.

Annis ended his high school career with a win in the Class 4A 200-meter dash on the track he will call home next year as he runs as a Wichita State University Shocker.

That goes along with his win in the long jump on Friday.

Tucker ran what he called his best race ever to take the Class 3A 300-meter intermediate hurdles title.

And Wells surprised even himself by taking out the defending state champion in the Class 3A javelin.

"There's just something different about this meet," Annis said. "This is probably the best I've felt running-wise and jumping-wise all year, ever since I was battling from that sickness (at the start of the season). I guess it happened at a good time, didn't it?"

Annis outran Colton Mays of Rose Hill in the 200 meters, 22.52 seconds to 22.82.

"He beat me at regionals, so I found my way back to the drawing board, having to strategize where he beat me," Annis said. "It was on the straightaway. I wanted to burn the curve hard and then float just a little bit and kick it on the last 60. And it worked."

Heading into a stiff breeze on the straightaway, Annis said he went to the arm drive and knees and it carried him through.

"The past two years I've been worried about everyone else and who the fast kid was. This year, it's just more relaxed and I can be out there and run my own race."

The double-gold couldn't be sweeter, he added.

In the 300 hurdles, Tucker was running even with last year's champion, Sean Newlan of Phillipsburg, when Newlan hit the final hurdle and fell to the track as Tucker crossed the line in 38.19 seconds in what Tucker described as the best race he's ever run.

"I think, with all the adrenaline, I took one less step (between each hurdle) and it worked out great," he said.

He cleared every hurdle easily, except the last one, Newlan's downfall, but stayed upright to finish first.

The 38.19 is Tucker's fastest time in that event, and coming off hip surgery in the fall, it's even more amazing, he said.

"That's the best I've ever run, with or without hip surgery," he said.

"And having the close competition throughout (the season) also helped," Tucker said.

"It was awesome to have someone come off the back curve pushing me. I could hear him in the back. I heard him hit a hurdle, so I knew I had to pick it up on the last stretch," he said.

Tucker finished third in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.88 seconds and ran a leg on the fourth-place 4x100 relay team.

He also ran the anchor on the two-time defending champion 4x400 relay team, but his effort to catch Humbolt on the final stretch came up just short and the Longhorns settled for silver, running 3:26.49, just a half second out of first.

"We congratulate them and we're happy with how we ran today," said Michael Banderas, whose third leg brought Holcomb close to the lead before handing off to Tucker.

They didn't defend, he said, but they ran their best.

Wells got his win on his first throw, 191-08, and it held up to some close competition, mainly defending champion Seth Derr of Phillipsburg, who threw 190-06 on his next to last attempt.

At regionals, Wells threw 176 feet. Lately he has been working on steps and getting stronger, and some adrenaline helped, he said.

"I was just hoping to place top three. Winning's not too bad of a thing," the senior said.

Hitting his first throw so well helped ease the pressure, Wells said. Last year, he placed fourth in this event, throwing 25 feet shorter.

Wells will be throwing for Hutchinson Community College next year.

Silver medals prevailed Saturday.

Scott City's Joey Meyer led most of the 800-meter race before succumbing to defending champion Tanner McNutt of Humboldt, but he finished second with his best time of the season, 1:58.28.

Meyer held the lead until 300 meters left when McNutt caught him. But Meyer pulled away at the curve before hitting the wind on the home stretch.

"This is the first time I've felt good all year," Meyer said. "He (McNutt) is a heckuva runner. I knew I'd have to get a little ahead of him if I was going to sprint against him, but he got me."

Tyler LaSalle of Holcomb placed second in the 400-meter dash in 50.82 seconds behind McNutt.

He knew he had his work cut out to beat McNutt, LaSalle said, and the strategy was to stay steady early and tough it out the last 200 meters.

"But I tried to get out faster. I felt faster but that wind got me bad on that last stretch," he said.

LaSalle also ran legs on the fourth-place 4x100 relay and runner-up 4x400 relay.

Jake Peters of South Gray pulled out a surprising second place in the Class 2A discus. In his flight he threw for a personal record 158-06 to lead after the prelims, and it was solid enough to hold out for second overall.

"My goal was to get my best throw, past 145," he said. "I just tried hard."

A sophomore, Peters said he woke up Saturday believing he had that great throw in him, in his first trip to state.

The Stanton County 4x800 relay team came in with the eighth best time and left with second best on the day in 8:30.17.

Jacob Cron took the final handoff from Fabian Avelar in fourth place, then took the lead after a lap before getting passed on the final curve.

"I'm used to running quarters but I saw all the guys ahead of me and just tried to chase them down," Cron said.

But with 150 meters left, Cron said his legs just got tired and he couldn't hold off the challenger.

"We knew we had it in us and came out here and gave it our all," he said.

The Hugoton 4x800 relay team improved from fourth last year to third the hard way.

In a fast race, the Eagles stayed a consistent eighth place until the final leg when anchor Patrick Weaver overtook five racers to help Hugoton to a bronze medal.

Area boys found successes in various ways in the 1,600-meter run.

Josh Mehl of Wichita County placed second in Class 2A in 4:28.5, a personal record. Grant Garst of Inman won in 4:25.16 after it looked as though he was going to run away with it.

Mehl stayed with the lead pack but behind the leaders for the first two laps, then caught the leaders on the bell lap. Garst had too much at the end, though.

"I just wanted to start out my pace and be sure I got that, and I did," Mehl said. "The second lap was a little slow, so I probably could have caught up with him then. But I hung with him after that, but he's so fast."

In Class 1A, Troy Wineinger of Greeley County ended his high school career by setting the school record. In the final 10 meters, his last-second charge caused him to stumble over the finish and hit the track, but he had fourth place and broke the 31-year old school record, set by Tribune attorney Charles Moser.

Moser had sent Wineinger a note a month ago encouraging the senior to break his record. He carried that letter with him the rest of the season, including to the prep area at the state meet.

Other area competitors found their way to the medal stand.

Marques Logan of Stanton County finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles in 15.80 seconds. Sublette's 4x100-meter relay team was eight in 47.73.

Kyle Dupree of Syracuse followed his third-place performance in the pole vault Friday with a third in the triple jump on Saturday, jumping 42-07.50. Jake Gesling of Sublette was sixth with 42-01.50. Scott City's 4x800 relay ran in fourth place the entire race, finishing in 8:24.33.

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