Kansas regional tournaments for track and field are set for today at various sties. The top four finishers in each event will secure a berth at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium on Memorial Day weekend.
1 Olathe North boys regional loaded with throwers
Making the top four in boys field events from the Olathe North Class 6A regional at the Olathe District Activity Center will be challenging. Olathe South junior Braden Smith would seem to be safe in the discus (176-6) and shot put (55-10). He owns the top marks in 6A this season, but the remaining spots are less certain with Blue Valley’s Caleb Kjergaard (152-8) and AJ Harris (149-2) among the discus contenders, along with BV North’s Kevin Tenny (167-0) and BV West’s Michael Fairchild (148-4). Tenny (51-1/2), Harris (50-111/2) and Kjergaard (46-5) also will be in the mix to make state in the shot put. That field of contenders is even more crowded because Olathe South’s Michael Camburako (47-91/2), Olathe East’s Bryson Baldon (47-9) and Olathe North’s Marcel Spears (46-2) are expected to challenge for the top four spots.
2 Pole-vault field is stacked
As crowded as the field is for throwers, the pole-vault field at Olathe North might be the biggest bloodbath. Five of the top six 6A performers this spring are in the same regional, which is headlined by BV North’s Chris Cusick (15-0). There are, however, several potential challengers — Gardner Edgerton’s Ben Carpenter (14-8), Blue Valley’s Alex Simmons (14-6) and Cusick’s Mustangs teammate, Peter Bentele (14-6). Finally, Blue Valley’s Ryan Younger, Gardner Edgerton’s Connor McGuire and BV Northwest’s Andrew Swailes have all cleared 13-6 and could work into the mix with personal-record performances.
3 Cash-less distance field in Lawrence remains strong
Expect the girls’ long-distance races at the Lawrence Class 6A regional to be hotly contested as well. No, Shawnee Mission West senior Alli Cash (stress fracture) won’t run at that regional, but the field still includes a plethora of state hopefuls. Lawrence Free State’s Bailey Sullivan and Lawrence’s Grace Morgan will be among the top contenders for state berths in the 1,600 meters and 3,200 along with SM North teammates Micki Krzesinski and Sada Kernodle as well as Olathe Northwest teammates Cameron Gueldner and Kathryn Pamperin.
4 Aquinas girls dominate distances
Distance dominance paved the way to a Class 5A state championship for St. Thomas Aquinas last spring, but there are some tough choices to be made heading into the regional. Saints runners own four of the top 10 800 marks this spring, six of the top 16 marks in the 1,600 and five of the eight marks in the 3,200. How Aquinas coach Craig Moss chooses to deploy his stable of runners — Jennifer Angles, Bailee Cofer, Emily Downey, Maddie Hopfinger, Rachel Mahon and Christina Metzger — might affect the Saints’ chances for a repeat.
5 Can Maranatha do it again?
Maranatha Academy won the Class 2A team title with only a handful of athletes last season. At the Yates Center regional today, the Eagles hope to position themselves for another crack at the title. Maranatha is led by Caroline Bingham, who has the top 2A time in the state in the 200 (25.94) and 400 (58.59) this spring. The Eagles also need strong showings from Lauren Harrell, who has the top time in the 1,600 (5:23.25) and second-best 800 time (2:21.88), as well as distance specialists Hope Manning and Taylor Marrow. Meanwhile, Maranatha’s Bethany Bailey is the No. 1 seed in the pole vault (11-0).
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com