By KEVIN THOMPSON
ULYSSES — For the first meet of the season, things couldn't have gone too much better for local teams.
The Garden City girls rode a wave of distance running success to claim the team title,
The Garden City boys also had a strong showing, finishing second behind Dodge City, with host Ulysses finishing a strong third.
"We scored in a lot of places today,"' coach Mike Smith said of team's effort. "And we got a lot of times on people and a lot of experience."
The Lady Buffaloes were led by what has become a trademark distance squad. They swept everything 800 meters on up.
But they also picked up a win in the shot put from Johna McClelland, as well as scored points in a number of events, Smith said.
"I was pleased with the effort and how we competed with everybody," he said.
The 4x800 meter relay team took first easily, in 10 minutes, 13 seconds. Alex Miller started and Kayla Doll finished, two members from last year's state team as the Buffaloes are sorting out relay teams early on.
"We were kind of 'iffy' about where we'd be (timewise) for the first meet," Doll said. "But 10:13 is a good starting point. We're always trying to get better, of course."
Doll beat Miller by 5 seconds in the 800 meter run.
"I'm not disappointed in my time (2:27), but I'm always trying to get better," Doll said. "It's just good to get out here and just race.
Miller led teammates Katy Doll and Chelsea Jackson to go 1-2-3 in the 1600 meters.
"That was awesome," Miller said. "In practice it's been just like cross country. We just push each other every day. We haven't had any real pace work yet. It was a good meet for us."
Katy Doll and Jackson went first-second in the 3,200, as well, to complete the gold-silver sweeps in the three distance events.
Distance coach Krista Linenberger said it doesn't really surprise her.
"When you love to run as much as they do, it isn't that hard," she said. "That's 90 percent of it."
Everybody looked smooth, she added, and they've been training for this all winter.
"They're very competitive. This is a great starting point," she said.
Senior Jonathan DuVall paced the Buffaloes with a pair of wins in the hurdles, the two events that he won at state last year.
He ran 14.72 in the 110-meter hurdles (.02 seconds behind his best time last year) and he took the 300 meters in 39.06.
He was very happy with his shorter race.
"I felt really good," he said. "I banged my foot up a bit hitting the hurdles, which I've been trying to work on. But overall, I felt really good."
Duvall said getting quicker between the hurdles has been a focus of his this season.
"Getting my feet faster and the rhythm faster between the hurdles felt pretty good today," he said.
The longer race, he admitted, wasn't very good, despite the win.
"I did absolutely terrible. I went over with my left foot over almost every hurdle. I stuttered," he said. "I need to work on that. Still, I ran a 39.06, and I'm proud of that."
Pole vaulting was a strong event for both Garden City teams.
Newcomer Aaron Vasquez tied the meet record with his winning vault of 14-0, while Brett Cady finished third and Nick Jauche fifth.
Kaitlin Smith, Taylor Linenberger and Denise Holguin finished tied for third.
"We did excellent on both sides," coach Smith said. "Lots of positives there."
Garden City competes in Valley Center next Friday.
The host Tigers got off to a quick start with wins in the long jump and the high jump.
Senior Tate Annis tied the school record last year in this meet with his best jump of the year, 22-10. He "only" jumped 22-01 this time, but it was good enough to beat DuVall by 13 inches.
The first three jumps, Annis said, he used a new seven-step approach (he used nine last year). The plan is to use more explosion off the board. The old way still feels better, but he will work on both in practice to see which works. It's a good start for now.
"This sets the tone for the year and shows me where I'm at," he said.
Annis picked up two more wins in the short sprints, and even though they were short of the school records he hopes to set this season, both times were good marks to start the season.
Annis won the 100-meter dash in 11.06, just ahead of Garden City's Greyson Tempel (11.30), and he did the same to Dustin Tempel in the 200-meter dash (22.37-23.59).
"Mainly what I've been working on is the strategy of each race and running form," Annis said. "I have certain acceleration zones in each race where I'm trying to pull ahead and be stronger each event."
Sophomore Tregg Rodriguez won the high jump at 6-02, the Tiger's personal best by two inches.
He tightened a shoe on a sore ankle and felt good with a new approach and excess adrenaline.
The approach has more of a sweeping curve, he said, and it feels really good right now.
Scott City's Kelly Wycoff swept the sprint events again, and she anchored the come-from-behind winning 4x400 relay.
"Since this is our first meet, I went out really, really hard," she said after winning the 400 meters. "I could feel it after I got to the 200 mark and I felt tired the last stretch. But it was okay."
The 100 meter-run she described as "okay" with the start not as good as it needs to be, but that's to be expected this early.
"And we have a lot of other girls coming along as well," Wycoff added.
Aubrey Davis, Megan Thornburg and Bailey Nickel ran as part of that winning final relay.
Nickel placed second in the 400 meter run and 100 meter hurdles.
Jacob Martin got the better of the Dodge City boys, winning the 3200 meter run.
Nicole Kinser led the Hugoton attack with wins in the the long jump and triple jump, and the Lady Eagles picked up wins in the discus and javelin, as well.
A good day for Hugoton, coach Nick Perez said.
"We can just grow on today. There was a lot of great competition," he said.
Ulysses coach Kyle Shryock said both his squads competed well, with a strong senior class of leaders and a number of younger athletes stepping up to score.
Sickness decimated his girls team, and state kids wrestling knocked his boys team down, but a number of his athletes stepped up in front of the home crowd.
"And I told the kids that this is just the start. We just have to build on this from here," Shryock said.