Editor's Note: The second of a two-part series looking back at 10 years of coverage of the state track meet.
In Thursday's first part of this two-part series, I focused on the highlights of my first five years at The Telegram covering the state high school track meet.
There were many outstanding performances, and herewith is the second portion of a decade covering southwest Kansas' athletes at the biggest sports event of the school year.
2014: After a great effort of the year before, this season was one bereft of titles, except for the Wichita County boys 4x800 relay team and Tucker’s repeat of the 300-hurdles title. That was it.
There is a two-fold memory of this year. First, that Scott City was in Class 4A, and Wycoff was stuck battling the fastest sprinters in all classes at the state meet, finishing second in two of them with the second fastest mark for all classes that season. Nary a gold was a reward. The other was Garden City’s girls 4x800 relay team lowering their school record time by nearly 3 seconds from the state title of a year ago, running the 16th fastest all-time mark, but losing to Olathe East, which ran the fifth-fastest time in Kansas history in the same race.
2015: The area’s stars made a valiant comeback this season, with the boys producing nine state titles — Josh Irsik of Ingalls (1A 100m), Tate Skinner (2A 100/200m) and Jake Peters (2A Shot put, discus) of South Gray, Scott City’s 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams, and Ian Rudzik of Ulysses in the shot put. Jordan Speer of Dighton won her first gold in the 1A shot put.
2016: This was the Rudzik going-away party as the future K-State football player dazzled with record-setting performances in the shot put (62-7) and discus (178-4), but leaving his best mark from the regular season at 186-00, both atop the all-time area list.
Scott City freshman Jack Thomas won the 3A 3,200; Wichita County’s Jacob Schumacher the 2A boys 100-meters; Satanta the 4x100-meter 1A relay and Scott City’s boys tied for first in the team standings. Dighton’s Speer won the shot put and javelin for gold medals No. 2 and 3.
2017: Another banner year at the state meet for southwest Kansas schools. South Gray’s boys won the 1A team trophy. The Rebels’ Gilbert Peters won both the shot put and discus. Derreck Berg won the 110-hurdles for the Rebels.
Holcomb’s Carter Blackburn doubled in the 4A 110- and 300-meter hurdles; Caleb Carrasco of Stanton County took the 800-meters while Hugoton’s Tony Kinser won the high jump at 6-08 (personal best of 6-10). The Eagles 4x400-meter team won gold as did Garden City’s Ruben Huerta in the pole vault and Demarcus Elliott in the shot put. Dighton’s Speer earned gold medals No. 4 and 5 in the shot put and discus and left an indelible mark with the best all-time shot put mark of 46-09.50 and the third best javelin throw (137-11).
2018: The end of a decade.
Another year to put in the memory bank, and comparable to the 2013 season of 16 total gold medals.
Previously mentioned in Tuesday’s Telegram, here’s the best of the best from the most recent state meet.
South Gray’s Gilbert Peters repeats in the shot put and discus and ends the season with the fourth best all-time shot put mark and the second best discus throw.
Stanton County’s Devin Berens captures the 2A 100- and 200-meters and anchors the Trojans’ 4x100-meter relay team to a victory.
Scott City’s boys wins Class 3A by an astonishing 29 points despite numerous injuries. Jack Thomas inspires the throng at Cessna Stadium by running the second leg on the Beavers’ winning 4x800 relay team despite having a torn labrum in his right hip.
The Beavers also get wins in the 800 meters, and the 4x400-meter relay team. Lakin’s JP Perez, just a sophomore, wins the 3A 300-meter hurdles.
Holcomb’s 4A 4x100-meter relay team wins the baton race and its 42.50 during the season ranks No. 1 on The Telegram’s all-time area list.
Garden City’s 4x800-meter boys team stunned Class 6A by winning with a school record time of 8:03.31, nearly 14 seconds faster than they had ever run, but 37 seconds faster than the time at the regionals with one different runner in the race.
It was a little slim on the girls side of things this year, with Wichita County senior Mareli Salazar winning the 2A javelin in her first, and only year of competition.
Scott City’s 4x400-meter relay also clamed a gold medal.
Garden City junior Taylor Savolt established herself as one of the Buffs’ all-time greats this season, winning the 6A 300-meter hurdles with a school record time of 45.05 seconds. She was fifth in the long jump and triple jump and ran a leg on the fifth-place 4x400-meter relay team. Her win was the first individual gold for a GCHS girl since 2006 when LaTisha Brown won the long jump.
Savolt also established a school record in the triple jump (38-00) and ranks high in the long jump (18-07.25) and put herself in rarefied company as the fourth best triple jumper of all-time, the second best long jumper and the second fastest 300-meter hurdler. In the process, she beat her mother, Melissa (Henry), who had long jumped 18-05.50 in 1991 at Holcomb.
Picking the best of the best of a decade is a dangerous path to follow, but here goes:
1) Moscow’s Ozzie Granillo winning two individual golds and anchoring two winning relays in 2011 for the Wildcats. I still contend he may have run the 4x400 anchor leg in the 47-second range.
2) Jonathan DuVall’s two year reign in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and his 13.89 win in 2013 may well have been the finest and smoothest race I’ve witnessed in that event.
3) Jordan Speer of Dighton in the shot put and discus and javelin. Her three-year run was special as she won at least one gold in each of the events.
4) Ian Rudzik’s big splash in the shot put and discus, while also running the 100-meters and a relay leg, putting him in a special category of strength and speed. A modern-day version of Scott City's Lance Lewis.
5) These four events (2 by the same individual), also have a special place for me even though they didn’t win: Garden’s girls 4x800 relay team of 2014 when they ran faster than their gold medal win of the year before but lost to Olathe East; Kelly Wycoff’s brilliant runs in the 100, 200 and 400 in Class 4A, yet came up short in each race; and Wichita County’s Paige Wells finishing second in the 3,200 meters for the second straight year by mere hundredths of a second.
That about sums up my memory bank of a decade of track and field.
Southwest Kansas again has proven that it can compete with the best of the best in the Sunflower State in the sport.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Stay tuned.
Contact Brett Marshall at email@example.com