Taylor Savolt cleared the last hurdle, 10 to 15 meters in front of the field, and strolled through the finish line as the public address announcer highlighted the Garden City High School senior, calling out her name one final time at Buffalo Stadium.
Savolt is nearing the end of a high school career that’s already featured 12 state medals, including a gold in the 300-meter hurdles a year ago. And Tuesday was the last time Savolt would compete at Buffalo Stadium, a fact that Savolt had not really considered until it was all over.
“I guess I didn’t really think about that, but my mom, she’s getting a little emotional,” Savolt said, minutes after she took first in 46.49 seconds, nearly 3 full seconds in front of teammate and second-place finisher, Kristin Roth. “I just kind of think this isn’t the end, I have more next year in college, but high school is a big deal and I want to do well so it’s kind of sad to see it’s gone pretty much.”
Savolt’s day was one of several highlights during the Mike Smith Invitational, which was not finished at time of press Monday evening.
Scott City school record
The Scott City 4x800 boys relay team, which helped the Beavers to a dominant 3A team state title in 2018, broke the school record in the race on Monday. When Scott City anchor runner Wyatt Hayes saw the final time of 8:04.14, he exploded in excitement.
“Oh yeah,” he said with a big smile, “especially with the good time we had when we broke it a couple of years ago the first time, we were pretty excited about it.”
That time was 8:08.19 at the Class 4A regional meet in 2017, when Hayes and Jack Thomas were the young blood on the team. Now, those two are the veterans on this year’s relay, joined by Kaden Wren and Sam Irwin.
“We figured out if we can have one of the five guys competing for that fourth spot hit a really fast time like what Sam did, we knew we could shatter it,” Hayes said. “With Jack breaking 2 minutes, Kaden breaking 2 minutes and I breaking 2 minutes for the first time today. I think you’ll see us breaking 2 minutes for the rest of the year, and that fifth person keeps working, it might be Sam, it might be Justice McDaniel, it might be anybody for right now.”
The broken record was not the only pleasant surprise, as by the end of the meet the sun peaked through the clouds and the wind died down, leaving athletes with as good of conditions as they could have asked for, considering the day started with rain and high winds.
Battle for the high jump
Ulysses Rylie Oglevie and Julie Calzonetti both cleared 5-00 in the high jump, but Oglevie got the win on jumps. The duo are polar opposites of each other at this point in their careers.
Oglevie is the veteran, a senior star volleyball and basketball player whose high jump marks has plateaued as she’s focused on basketball and volleyball.
“As I have gotten older, I’ve gotten not as good in the high jump. I could jump 5-2, 5-3 in middle school, and now I struggle reaching my PR,” Oglevie said.
Meanwhile, the sophomore Calzonetti is at the beginning of her high jump career, matching her personal record from a year ago at 5-00 the last two meets.
“This whole first half of the season is kind of building up the peek of where I was last year, so I’m still kind of on the come-up, I hope,” Calzonetti said. “This week is kind of considered peek week, this meet and Derby is where we’re trying to get up to perform for state-level.”
Progress for Calzonetti has also been slow.
“I’ve been slowly, slowly, baby steps improving,” she said. “Even if it’s the same measure, it’s better jumps and I’m having way better attempts at higher heights, so I’m really confident at upcoming Derby getting 5-2.”
Oglevie has steadily improved this season, though. She started clearing 4-08 and 4-10, and cleared 5-00 on Monday. She’s hoping to get to 5-02 soon, as well.
“I need to run faster — I always slow down when I hit the bar, and my form has gotten a little more flat and less rainbow,” she said,” so I need to work on thrusting towards the sky.”
Calzonetti has another hurdle she needs to clear, besides just the high bar. She’s now running distance races for the Buffs, including the open 800 and the 4x800 relay.
“I never really intended to run — I don’t like running,” Calzonetti said with a smile. “But I’m in all these distance races and relays, and I’m just going with the flow and doing whatever they need me to do.”
Savolt competes against herself
Savolt does not have much more to prove, reaching the peek of her efforts in the 300 hurdles, finally winning gold after a second-place finish the year before.
She’s just got her own marks and goals she’s gunning for.
“I’ve just kind of tried to do the best I can, and I’m kind of at the same point I was at last year, so that’s kind of reassuring,” Savolt said. “I’m hoping to get some big marks towards the back end of the season, where I need to peek.”
But Savolt started off the year a little slower than she started last year, thanks to a much harsher winter.
“I started off a little in the 300 hurdles than I usually do, but I think it just too me a little longer to get back into shape,” Savolt said. “Last year’s winter wasn’t too cold, so I did a lot during the winter. But I couldn’t do as much this year, so I think that kind of hurt me.”
Savolt admitted it’s been frustrating, but those annoyances were lessened when Savolt finished off the day in the 300-meter hurdles, her second-fastest time of the year.
“That was a great way to end the day,” she said.
A switch from sprints to distance
Garden City’s Angel Ayala was a decent sprinter a year ago, taking fifth in the 400 meters at his home meet in 52.88 seconds. But that was his best finish of the year in either the 200 or the 400.
After running cross country in the fall, Ayala knew he had to make a change.
“I was more in distance shape than I was a sprint, so I decided to switch it,” he said.
It worked out Tuesday, when Ayala won his first race of the year, finishing the 1,600 in 4:36.10, a 20-second improvement on his previous best time.
“It was a big change, because you’re using fast twitch muscles to compete,” Ayala said about the sprints, “to now slowing down your pace quite a bit. They’re longer races, so it’s tough.”
But after Tuesday’s effort, Ayala is excited about his progress.
“It gives me more motivation to keep improving and hopefully get to state,” he said.
For full results from Tuesday’s track meet, visit GCTelegram.com.