Hugoton — A year ago, the track meet in Hugoton ran a few events, then impending bad weather forced its cancellation as the area experienced a freak blizzard the next day.
This year’s version of the Invitational featured a full meet run in perfect spring conditions as area teams gear up for the May push towards state.
The Hugoton boys, behind a strong showing on the track, won the team title, 91-86 over Holcomb, with Stanton County finishing third with 74.33 points.
On the girls side, Ulysses took the crown over Meade, 94.5 to 88, with Lakin finishing a solid third with 85 points.
The Tigers got the win despite just two gold-medal places. Riley Oglevie took the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches) and Kasey Sturm won the discus (97-0).
It’s what coach Kyle Shryock called a team effort.
“We didn’t win a lot of events, but we had a lot of girls who stepped up today and placed in the two-, three-, four-ranges,” he said. “There was no one standout but they scored in a lot of events, which is good for this time of year. They’re finally starting to come around some.”
Both winners, he added, aren’t anywhere near their season peaks, which is a good sign.
And Sturm, who usually throws three events, threw just the discus Friday.
“We’ve really got a lot of injuries,” he said. “Sturm has a hurt hip. Clara Price (who scored in all her events) banged up her knee today. Like everybody this time of year, we’ve got a few injuries.”
The individual highlight for the girls came from the team that finished fifth, Sublette.
Laiten Greeson was a triple winner, sweeping all three sprints.
She took the 100 meters in 12.84 seconds, the 200 in 27.07 and the 400 meters in 1:02.32.
Teammate Tea Stoppel also had a good day, placing second in the 1,600 meters, just a tenth of a second behind Hugoton’s Molly McClure and second in the 1,600 meters, three seconds behind Stanton County’s Peyton Peterson.
Lakin’s girls picked up wins in the 4x800 relay and from Sierra Swank in the shot put, as well as Aaliyah Jones’ 9-06 in the pole vault. Sara White also won the 3,200 meters in 12:41.65.
Courtney Wren picked up a win in the long jump (16-1.75) for Holcomb’s only win for the girls, who finished fifth as a team.
Hugoton’s boys started the day scoring few points in the field events, but they made up for it in a big way on the track.
The Eagles’ only wins came in the opening and closing events on the track.
They picked up a first in the 4x800-meter relay (8:16.21, 17 seconds ahead of second-place Guymon).
And in the feature event of the night, the 4x400-meter relay, they outlasted Holcomb 3:28.55 to 3:28.76.
For Hugoton coach Nick Rodriguez, in his final season in Hugoton, the win on the home track felt pretty good.
“Coming in as a team, we’re still struggling in the field trying to get some points there,” he said. “Some teams jump out on us right away, but our track guys are really good. We come on the track and we do really well.”
Good veterans and good leaders make his boys a deep team, and a threat to score in a lot of places, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he wasn’t even aware of how close the team scores were until after the 400-meter dashes and thought his team looked “all right” at that point.
The win was just icing. The quality competition is what it’s all about.
“We’ve got a lot of great track athletes in southwest Kansas,” he said. “There’s great competition out here. People don’t realize how good southwest Kansas track is.”
Stanton County picked up a pair of wins from Devin Berens in the 100 and 200 dashes.
Creed Puyear doubled up in the long jump and triple jump. And Jeff Gum won the javelin by over 17 feet.
Holcomb picked up a win in the 4x100-meter relay, and Isaiah Armstrong won the 400 meters for the second time this week, clocking a 49.87. He ran 49.07 at home on Monday.
In the field, Jayson Lambert won the pole vault at 12-9, while fellow Longhorn Dylan Amos was second at 12-6.
Damon Kepley captured the shot put at 44-11, over three feet farther than teammate Isaiah Arizpe. Lakin’s JP Perez was a double winner, taking the high jump (6-4) and the 300-meter hurdles.
Moscow’s Axel Granillo won the discus for that school’s lone win.
Brendon Hudson of Ulysses, one of the area’s premiere sprinters, hurt an ankle when the blocks slipped to start the 100-meter dash. He finished seventh but scratched in the other two sprints.
Shryock said his speedster wants to compete in Garden City Tuesday, but they’ll do a wait-and-see before making that call.
Many teams will be at Garden City Tuesday, and many will compete in Lakin Friday.