By BRETT MARSHALL
DODGE CITY — Well, the Western Athletic Conference track and field championship on Thursday at Memorial Stadium had more than its share of dramatic moments.
The respective team titles weren't decided until the final two events of the night for both the boys' and girls' divisions — Garden City's Lady Buffaloes repeating as champs with 110 points to Dodge City's 94, while Hays' boys won their fourth straight, but not quite as easily, 113 points to Liberal's 98. Garden City's boys were third with 65 points.
All in all, with a number of GCHS athletes running in more events than normal in an effort to pile up team points, it was a strong showing the Buffs' track squads.
"We loaded up everywhere we could," GCHS coach Mike Smith said. "It paid off in a lot of different ways. I could go up and down the lineup, both boys and girls, where people ran extra events, did an extra field event. It was a total team effort. I've told the kids now that we're on the tail end of the season, we've got to finish strong, and I think we did that today."
The day started under bright sunshine, with a light northerly wind and temperatures around 70 degrees. By the end of the meet, after sundown, the temperature had fallen to the high 50s and the wind had picked up to a stiff 15-25 mph, which made the finishes on the northeast side of the Memorial Stadium track difficult, to say the least.
For the champion Lady Buffs, there were league meet records set in the 4x800 relay when Alex Miller, Neysa Harman, Katy and Kayla Doll combined to run a 9:46.38, their season best and just five seconds off the school record.
Miller followed that up with a league meet record in capturing the 1,600-meter run with a season-best time of 5:23.05, with Katy Doll right behind in 5:24.18. Chelsea Jackson was fourth in 5:40.88.
Highlighting the boys' performance was Jonathan DuVall's sizzling 14.30 win the 110-meter high hurdles, beating Class 5A champion Adam Deterding of Hays by .08 of a second, the first time in three years he has beaten the other premier high hurdler in Kansas.
DuVall's 300-meter showdown with Deterding and Liberal's Trenton Hammond crumbled when he hit the next to last hurdle when he was trailing Hammond by about eight meters. He crashed to the track, was able to pick himself up but finished a distant fourth (40.87), while Hammond clocked the state's fastest time with a sizzling 37.22. Hammond had run 37.47 nine days earlier at the Garden City Invitational when DuVall again struggled with his stepping and hit several hurdles.
The dominant middle distance girls also swept the 800, as Kayla Doll (2:29.94), Neysa Harman (2:32.14) and Ashley Smith (2:34.61) went 1-2-3. In the 3,200-meters, Katy Doll went under 12 minutes, winning in 11:55.04, as Miller and Jackson claimed third and fifth.
Taryn Tempel won the 200-meter dash (27.68), with Allison Harman and Taylor Linenberger running third and fourth. The 4x400-meter relay team of Tempel, Harman and the Doll sisters won with a time of 4:13.12.
The boys 4x100-meter relay team won with a time of 43.11, as DuVall, the Tempel brothers and Aaron Vasquez just missed their season best of 42.88. Greyson also took second in the 100 (11.27), while Dusty was runner-up in the 200 (23.99), which was run into that stiff northerly wind late in the meet.
Vasquez equaled his season best in the boys pole vault, clearing 14-06, and winning his specialty. And it was a day for the GCHS vaulter to smile afterward.
"It was a great day. I had a tailwind and the vault just felt awesome," Vasquez said. "I still need to work on my strength, but I feel I'm getting better all the time. If I get my new pole, I feel I can go 15-0 or higher, so we'll see after it gets to the school in the next day or so."
DuVall's day had its initial high followed by the disappointment of the 300 hurdles. But the GCHS senior took it all in stride.
"Adam's a great athlete, and it's the first time I've beaten him so that was amazing," DuVall said. "The race felt clean over the hurdles. I snapped my foot on a couple of hurdles, but I thought it was a great race."
Dusty Tempel had his season-best long jump in winning that event with a leap of 22-0.5, getting that mark on his second attempt.
"Things just felt good today," Dusty said afterward. "I'm gaining about a foot each year and I'm learning how to scoop now. I still need to attack the board more, but I'm improving on it all the time."
For Katy Doll, running her second-best time of the season in difficult conditions left her with a big smile on her face.
"I remember the cold weather we had last year, so it was nice for it to be a little better," Katy said. "The first mile, I felt great and then I got a little tired. I just knew I had to push through on those middle laps."
Miller's league record in the 1,600 was the highlight of a busy day for the junior.
"This meet is a tougher one because of the turnaround time, but you've just got to tough it out," Miller said. "You learn to live with the wind out here. Obviously, I'm not satisfied with my time. There are other girls in the state running faster and we've got to work harder and improve more. I think all of us have more potential and it's going to be exciting to see what we can do."
The Buffs will have a week to prepare for the Class 6A regional meet, which also will be contested at Dodge City. The state track meet is set for May 24 and 25 at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium.
See Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.