WICHITA — Less than 10 minutes after the first field event had begun at the Kansas State Track and Field Championship, the lightning detection equipment picked up those flashes in the sky within the geographic distance restrictions that cause an automatic delay of a track meet.

For nearly 90 minutes, Garden City’s squads, as well as others in Class 4A and 5A, had to wait until the all clear was signaled and at 9:37, the meet was resumed.

Annie Gerber, Saleen Wears and Marissa Hernandez then returned to the pole vault pit and resumed their competition.

Gerber, a senior, and Wears, a sophomore, made the most of the delay when competition re-started, with Gerber clearing a personal best 10-06 to place sixth while Wears made 9-06 and tied for eighth to join her teammate on the medal stand. Hernandez, meanwhile, struggled and went out at 8-06.

“I cried because it was a big goal of mine to get on the medal stand,” said Wears of the only event in which she competes. “Last year, I didn’t do so well, but the weight room in the offseason was the biggest reason for my improvement.”

Wears said she still has plenty of work to do over the next two seasons, but for now is as happy as a lark.

“Still working on inverting and trying to get on bigger poles,” she said of her future work plans. “Since this is the only thing I do, it just touched my heart.”

Gerber, who was also battling the scheduling snafu that sometimes afflicts competitors, cleared her best of 10-06 on her third and final attempt.

She then had to make a quick exit and go run her 100-meter hurdle prelims before returning as the only remaining competitor at 11-0 that had not jumped. Her quick 1-2-3 jumps didn’t pan out, and she then had to hurry over to run the opening leg of the Buffs’ 4x100-meter relay.

“It’s just tough to get on the podium,” Gerber said. “Having her (Wears) up there with me was cool.”

When looking at the bar after she landed in the pit at 10-06, Gerber said she was momentarily frozen.

“The bar was still shaking, and I hit it with my arm coming down, but when it stayed up there, I just breathed a sigh of relief,” Gerber said. “Early on I was dealing with injuries from basketball, and I had a rough practice and a rough warmup, but at the end of the day, it was a good day.”

Taylor Savolt ran her fastest 300-meter hurdle time in the prelims, clocking a 45.73 to earn the middle lane assignment for Saturday’s finals, where she will attempt to improve one spot from her 2017 runner-up finish when she ran her previous best of 45.83.

“I felt really good with it being my first event of the day,” said Savolt, who would later run on the girls 4x400-meter baton squad and then head to the triple jump pit. “I think it helped me relax, and focus and stay loose. The race just felt really good, pretty smooth all the way through, nothing that seemed wrong at all.”

Savolt said the rest of the day’s schedule would just have to be tackled head on.

“I’ll be loose, and a little tired, but you just have to push through,” Savolt said. “I’m happy to get the P.R. and to know I still feel I can run faster.”

Nathaniel Hubbard’s final lean at the finish line allowed him to earn the final No. 8 qualifying spot for Saturday’s 400-meters, running a 50.34, eking out the next runner by a mere .02 of a second.

The Buffs’ girls 4x400-meter relay team of Megan Powers, Savolt, Raegan Linenberger and Felicity Rodriguez qualified in the fifth spot for Saturday’s final with a time of 4:05.27, while those pesky teams from eastern Kansas went 1-2 in Olathe South (4:01.34) and Lawrence High (4:01.85).

From there, the results for the Buffs were a bit like the cloudy skies and cool temperatures that greeted the competitors at the outset before the sun came bearing down on the late morning and afternoon events with temperatures reaching the high 80s, but mixed in with high humidity.

The girls 4x100-meter relay team failed to qualify with a time of 51.26. Rodriguez was unable to qualify in the 400 meters (1:03.66) while Brooke Navarro finished 15th of 16 runners in the 3,200 (12:39.59).

Of the boys qualifying, things weren’t much better after Hubbard’s 400.

Alex Nickell missed in all three of his events, failing to clear the opening height of 5-08 in the high jump, and then running a 16.35 in the 110-meter high hurdles and a 42.14 in the 300-meter hurdles. Javier Cervantes finished last in the 3,200 with a time of 10:29.01.

The Buffs’ boys 4x400-meter drew second life later Saturday after the completion of the prelims.

On the first handoff from Jarrod Springston to Garret Doll, that coming in lane 2, Doll was bowled over by a runner from Wichita Southeast that knocked him off the track into the grass infield.

After high-stepping to avoid a plastic rope and other obstacles for about 5 to 7 meters, Doll was able to get back on the track and run his leg.

The Buffs eventually finished with the ninth fastest time, 3:28.60, just missing the critical eighth spot by a second behind Olathe East.

GCHS coach Brian Hill protested the race, and had to submit a written protest for the Games Committee.

“After listening to my protest, which I believed needed to be done in fairness to the kids, they gave us and Olathe East the option of either running again later Friday night against each other for the eighth position or running two teams in lane 8 on Saturday in the finals,” Hill explained. “Both coaches decided they’d rather run tomorrow with fresh legs and take our chances. I just wanted to do what I thought was right for the kids. The opportunity to run for a medal is the big thing, so I’m happy with the decision that was made.”

The final day for the Buffs begins bright and early as Linenberger seeks to improve her fourth place finish in the high jump when she cleared 5-06. That is also her season best in ’18.

Jaycob Vargas and Thomas Turpin will seek to continue the Buffs’ success in the boys pole vault, also set for an 8 a.m. start. They have bests of 14-06 and 14-00 this season.

The remaining cast of competitors is quite full as the Buffs will have competitors in 15 events.