ULYSSES — The day before Good Friday turned out to be a good Thursday for area track and field athletes who participated in the Ulysses Invitational.
Both Garden City’s boys and girls teams took home titles in the five-team meet, with the boys garnering 150.5 points to 145 by runner-up Scott City, and the girls more than doubling Scott City, 244-111.
The Buffs did it with numbers, taking first in seven events on the boys’ side and 11 with the girls.
Pacing the girls was Taylor Savolt, who claimed gold in all four of her events (both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and the long jump and triple jump).
The girls also took home first in the pole vault, with Saleen Wears winning a three-way tie at 9-00 on jumps.
Reagan Linenberger claimed the high jump (5-02) over teammate Julie Calzonetti (5-00), while Keyhana Turner took the shot put title (29-01.5).
That was just in the field events.
The Buffs also got a pair of golds from Felicity Rodriguez in the 100- and 400-meter dashes, while Brooke Navarro won the 1,600 meters (5:49.68).
Garden City also took the 4x100 and 4x800 relays, the former over Scott City (53.15 seconds-53.19) and the latter also over Scott City, overtaking the Beavers on the final leg to win by eight seconds (10:41.74).
The Scott City girls fared well behind Garden City. While picking up a number of second- and third-places, they had a winner in Dulce Ayala, who took the 800 meters in 2:37.16
They also picked up a win in the 4x400 relay by just over two seconds over Garden City.
Ulysses picked up a win in the discus with Kasey Sturm’s winning throw of 94-06.5, just a half-foot ahead of Jera Drohman of Scott City.
The gold medals were more evenly spread among the boys.
In the field events, the Buffaloes took four titles, starting with Demarcus Eliot, the defending state champion in the discus, taking that event with a throw of 49-08, over five feet farther than Kyle Sherwood of Scott City.
Jordan Herrman won the javelin (155-08) and Angel Ayala took the triple jump (37-07.25), just a half-inch farther than Colton Swinney of Hugoton.
Jaycob Vargas took the pole vault title at 14-00, out-dueling Scott City’s Marshall Faurot, who cleared 13-06.
Garrett Doll won the 800 meters in 2:04.61, and Kameron Wildeman went from third to first on the final lap to take the 1600 meters (4:43.12).
Javier Cervantes won the 3,200 meters (10:35.41) over Ethan Fox of Hugoton.
Scott City found gold a number of times.
Faurot took the 110-meter hurdles in 15.18 seconds, winning by nearly 1.5 seconds, but the junior opted out of the 300 hurdles to finish competing in the pole vault.
He also took the high jump, going over at 6-02 to win by four inches.
Sherwood took the discus with a throw of 122-11, over five feet farther than Trey Nuzum of Garden City.
Brandon Winderlin beat out teammate Isaac Tarango in the 200 meters, coming in 23.43 seconds.
Hugoton’s boys got its first gold on the 4x800 relay, coming back from third place to overtake Garden City and Scott City, with Jacob Eckert anchoring the Eagles to a time of 8:30.53.
Hugoton also claimed the 4x100 relay (44.46 seconds) over Scott City (44.64), as well as in the 4x400 relay over Garden City (3:32.63).
Mitchell Hamlin took the long jump title.
Ulysses’ boys swept the 100-meter dash, with Brandon Hudson clocking 11.21 seconds.
Hudson also won the 400-meter dash (50.53) over Hamlin.
Garden city head coach Brian Hill, taking over for the retired Mike Smith, saw this first meet as a way to put some athletes in certain events and see what happens.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done today, with a lot of new faces and a lot of young faces,” Hill said. “The one thing we talked about before the meet started was how to compete. For a lot of kids who got here today, and for their first high school track meet, I couldn’t be prouder of the way they competed.”
It was also nice to see how his veterans would handle the new season, as well, he said.
“They led with a lot of great leadership and did a great job,” he said, though they are at the stage where they can assess their performances.
Savolt did well in winning four events, Hill said, “but even she’s a little disappointed in some of her efforts (by her standards).”
But Vargas’ height was a personal record, and it was a means of redemption for last year’s regional where, as one of the premier pole vaulters, he didn’t make it to state.
“The way his season ended last year in a very disappointing fashion in regionals, I’m very proud and happy to see him have some success early this year,” Hill said. “That will only drive him to be better the rest of the year.”
His Buffs — and their coaches — learned a lot about who they are, and that’s what he was hoping for.
Garden City travels to Valley Center next Friday, which is where coach Smith is now living.
Scott City’s Jim Turner was also happy to get out and compete. And even though it wasn’t a large meet, he liked what he saw from his Beavers.
“I thought we competed really hard,” he said.
But for early in the season, some of his athletes have taken some hits.
“We’ve got some kids with some strains and had to scratch some kids out of a few events,” Turner said.
“We try to use the first meet as a workout, anyway, and this is by far the hardest workout they’ve had all year, he said.
They don’t race again until next Friday at Liberal.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to recover over the long weekend and come back Monday stronger,” Turner added.
Host Ulysses coach Kyle Shryock was also pleased with his team’s results, especially for as young as the Tigers are.
With only four senior boys and two senior girls, “young” is the operative word.
“I knew we were going to have some athletes compete,” Shryock said.
This first meet allowed him to see where they are.
“For the older kids, this was good because there’s a lot of stout competition,” he said. “With young kids, it’s always good to see them for the first time in an actual meet to see what they can do, not just on the practice field.”