Saturday’s scorcher at Wichita State University’s Cessna Stadium provided another check-up to see how southwest Kansas track and field athletes fared against the best from the rest of the Sunflower State.
Over the past decade, I’ve seen all types of weather malfeasances at the state meet — a little hail, lightning, heavy rain, heat and humidity, chilly mornings — certainly a potpourri of Mother Nature.
When the state track meet dropped the curtain just past 7:45 p.m. Saturday, it was the ending of my 10th state event in this second chapter of my sports writing career. And this one proved to be one of the best over the past decade.
Scott City brought home the Class 3A boys team championship, along with some relay and individual gold medals. And the Beavers did it with alarming ease despite an array of injuries to their relay teams.
The Beavers scored 74 points to runner-up Garden Plain’s 45, scoring points in 10 of the 18 events.
Junior Wyatt Hayes won the 800 meters in a photo finish, the Beavers won two of three relays, with junior Jack Thomas turning in the most inspirational performance I’ve witnessed in many years.
Thomas, who won the 3A boys cross country title in the fall, has been hampered all spring by a torn labrum in his right hip.
He had only run a couple of legs on the 4x800 relay team prior to Saturday, and despite a high level of pain, ran third leg on the winning baton unit. He will undergo surgery this week to repair the hip, and will be in rehab for the next six to eight months.
Thomas held off having surgery until the season was over just so he could run the one race with his teammates and best friends. The patience paid off handsomely for Thomas and his running mates.
There’s been many feel-good moments at the state track meet, but this one certainly ranks high on the list. And certainly if there's a Guts Award, Thomas should be the one to receive it.
South Gray’s Rebel boys defended their Class 1A state team championship with a solid win over Centralia. Throw standout Gilbert Peters also defended his shot put (58-02) and discus (175-06) gold medals to pace the Rebels while Craig Griebel won the 400 meters for his first individual gold medal. Peters’ exploits duplicated those of his older brother, Jake, who also won the shot put and discus a few years ago for the Rebels.
Stanton County, despite the loss of jump extraordinaire Creed Puyear (triple and long jumps) due to an emergency apendectomy, placed second in Class 2A boys behind the two individual golds of Devin Berens (100 and 200 meters) and one relay (4x100).
Another stunning performance came from Garden City’s unheralded 4x800 relay team.
Subbing in senior Kameron Wildeman, the Buffs had Javyn Contreras, Ethan Fisher and Javier Cervantes also carrying the baton, and the group shocked the field with its win in a school-record time of 8:03.31, an astonishing 37 seconds faster than they ran at regionals eight days earlier.
It broke the previous school mark by 2.4 seconds, set in 2010 by the group of Erik Chester, Asa Gottsponer, Jayden Delarosa and Mikey Ramirez.
That helped spark the Buffaloes to a fifth-place tie in the team race with 35 points.
Another gutsy performance came from Lakin sophomore JP Perez, who won the Class 3A 300-meter hurdles Saturday afternoon. But what's astonishing about the win is not the fact that he's just a sophomore, but on Friday in the preliminary race, he hit a hurdle head on, crashing to the track. He picked himself up, finished the race and barely qualified as one of eight runners to make the finals. It was quite a show of resolve and focus in the face of a potential catastrophe.
Holcomb and Hugoton boys shared fourth place in Class 4A, each scoring 34 points.
The Longhorns’ Devin Mader garnered two medals (third in the 100, fifth in the 200), Isaiah Armstrong was runner-up in the 400 and the 4x100 relay team of Mader, Garrett Williams, Peyton Leonard and Armstrong grabbed the gold medal.
Hugoton’s Abraham Garcia-Aguirre and Ethan Fox each medaled in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, and the Eagles’ 4x800 relay team placed second.
On the girls side, Garden City’s Taylor Savolt was the most decorated area athlete, winning the 300-meter hurdles in a school-record time of 45.05 seconds. She placed fifth in both the long and triple jump events against an elite field, while setting school records in those two events during the season (18-07.25 long jump, 38-00.00 triple jump).
Cimarron and Scott City’s girls distance relay teams posted impressive performances, as the Bluejays finished second in the 4x800, setting a school record with a time of 9:56.18, and then the Beavers won the 4x400 relay with a time of 4:06.59. The majority of those two teams return for the 2019 season.
Wichita County senior Mareli Salazar capped off her first and only season competing in the javelin by winning the Class 2A event with a throw of 133-06.
The team wins by Scott City (3A) and South Gray (1A) matched that of 2017, when Hugoton won 3A and the Rebels captured the 1A crown. Conversely, on the girls side, the last team title came in 2003, when Lakin repeated its 2002 title.
In all, Telegram area competitors brought home medals in 94 different events, with 105 total medals awarded to 119 different individuals, including relays.
It seemed like a fitting ending to a successful spring, and on two toasty days of heat, what had begun as a bitterly cold, windy, dry spring, ended with a little bit of warmth.
Congratulations to all the competitors for a job well done.
We’ll see the returning prep stars in August when the 2018-19 school year gets under way.
Until then, enjoy your summer!
Contact Brett Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.