CIMARRON — For much of the 2018 spring track season, Mareli Salazar has watched her javelin throws be on the uptick.
After throwing in the mid-110s a year ago, Salazar had watched her career best throws slowly climb upward, as recent as tossing the spear 126 feet, 1 inch.
On Friday, however, at the Hi-Plains League track and field meet, the Wichita County senior took her effort to another level, throwing the javelin 133-08, which puts her atop the current Telegram Honor Roll, eclipsing Shade Torres of South Gray’s mark of 133-02.
It also jumped her up to the No. 2 slot in Class 2A for all of Kansas, sitting behind Tina Epperson of Ness City, who has a mark of 134-01.
That was just one of many top performances on a sweltering afternoon and a warm evening at the Cimarron High School Stadium.
But she was not alone.
The usual cast of characters who excel were right on track at the HPL championship.
Sublette’s Laiten Greeson won her three sprints — 100, 200 and 400 — while her male counterpart — Stanton County’s Devin Berens — matched her in the two shorter races — to take double gold to Greeson’s triple.
And in the end, favored Stanton County easily breezed to the boys' team title with 153 points to Lakin’s 97, while the Lakin girls held off host Cimarron, winning with 122 points to the Bluejays’ 105.
One record fell in the relays, and that came with the host Bluejay girls 4x800-meter group consisting of all underclassmen — freshmen Macy Fugitt and Courtney Clinesmith, junior Cameron Bartlett and sophomore Clara Bartlett. They clocked a 10:03.97, the area's fastest this season, and smashed the mark of 10:14.00 set in 2002 by Southwestern Heights.
Berens’ record-setting day got better as he picked up his third gold in the 4x100-meter relay when he and his teammates zipped to a meet record of 43.52, lowering the previous mark of 43.65 set by Holcomb in 2004.
All in all, a pretty successful tour of the Cimarron track for the dynamic duo sprinters.
“I just wanted to make it through today,” said an exhausted Greeson following her 400 race (1:01.58), still waiting for her 200 race that would come later in the 200 (26.89).
She had opened her day with a 12.79 mark in the 100 meters.
But it’s that middle race she considers her favorite.
“It’s a more relaxed race for me, and there’s extra room to run and get into the race,” she said when comparing the races. “There’s a lot of block and form work left between now, and regionals and state. The last couple of weeks is when you want to come out hard.”
For Berens, who is headed to Fort Hays State next year to compete in track, it was a grand day to cap off his prep career in the HPL.
“The 200 is definitely the better race for me,” said the Trojan speedster, who ran a season best 22.17, which erased one of the most sacred records in the HPL, the 22.30 set in 1990 by Leoti’s Levi Gillen.
“In the 100, I’m not always the quickest out of the blocks. I think I stand up too quickly. The 200 I like the straightaway because I can get out and kick it into gear,” Berens said.
Earlier, Berens had said he and his teammates had their sights set on the 4x100 league mark after having broken the school record twice earlier in the season. Then, they went out and did just that.
“Really, a great way to finish off the day,” he said. “I’ve got three great teammates, and I still think we can go lower because we still had a little issue with a couple of the handoffs.”
For Salazar, improving by more than seven feet in the javelin was the ultimate confidence builder.
“It’s big, a big confidence builder,” a smiling Salazar said afterward. “It’s been a good year, this makes it a very good year, and if I can win state, it will be a great year.”
The Indians’ standout said she had been wholly invested into improving in her senior year, and the hard work is paying off.
“It’s been a big gap between junior and senior years,” she said. “I’ve worked hard every single day. I’ve been able to build speed, and have done more weights and it’s paid off.”
For Lakin coach Chris Pollart, nearing the end of his first year as head coach, the girls' win was the epitome of teamwork.
“I told them before the meet started that the key for us was the fourths, fifths and sixths,” a jubilant Pollart said afterward. “And that’s exactly what we got from the girls. Everybody performed well in their events and the points just continued to add up. I’m happy as heck for these girls. They’ve worked hard. And I’m happy that we got a second from the boys because they’ve worked hard, too.”
Stanton County’s coach Cory Bixler said his team’s performance exemplified the work ethic that it brings to practice every day.
“They like to compete and they don’t like to lose,” Bixler said. “They’re a hard working group, dedicated and good kids. They really enjoy this and I think it shows in how they compete.”
Now that the regular season has wound down, it’s time for area teams to prepare for regionals, all of which will be next Friday.
Class 3A area schools will compete at both Cimarron and Beloit (Scott City) while most 2A schools will compete at Spearville. Class 1A area schools will be at South Gray.