WICHITA — The best girls pole vaulters in Kansas history, Gardner Edgerton senior Cassie Wait and Mill Valley senior Emily Brigham, went out in style Friday at the Kansas state track and field championships at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
“It feels really good, because I don’t know if I’ll ever get to vault again, but it makes everything in the last eight years I’ve been vaulting really pay off,” Wait said. “I couldn’t be more happy to end on such a good note.”
Wait, who missed state as a sophomore with a foot injury but won the Class 5A state title as a freshman and won in Class 6A as a junior, broke her own state-meet record and won the 6A gold with an all-class record clearance of 13 feet, 2 inches.
“My speed was on. I had confidence and a lot of adrenaline,” Wait said. “I can definitely say the crowd helped me a lot today. I was in that mindset that it was my last time and I had to go out with a bang.”
Meanwhile, Brigham finished her career atop the state podium for the first time, winning the 5A gold with a state-meet record 12-8.
“I was just having fun with it,” said Brigham, who signed with South Dakota. “It’s my senior year, so I felt like whatever happens, happens. But I wanted to have fun with it.”
In the Class 2A pole vault, Maranatha Academy senior Bethany Bailey also set a state-meet record (11-5), breaking the 3-year-old mark set by former Eagle Keegan Williams.
“I feel so good,” Bailey said. “So much pressure has been relieved. I hadn’t been vaulting extremely well or consistently well, so I was just hoping to clear 11 and go from there.”
Whitledge wins again
For the third straight year, Tonganxie senior Jenny Whitledge won the Class 4A girls high jump, but it wasn’t easy.
Whitledge, who will play volleyball at Wichita State, and Independence sophomore Shania Vannoster needed a jump-off after both cleared 5-6 on the second try.
“I had to take deep breath before that jump and I thought to myself, ‘This could be the year where I maybe don’t get first, but I’m going to go all out for it and compete my very best,’” Whitledge said.
It took four extra jumps before Whitledge was able to secure the three-peat.
Whitledge’s teammate, junior Haley Griffin, also cleared 5-6, but wound up third and wasn’t part of the jump-off.
More repeat winners
De Soto senior Angel Vasquez and Shawnee Mission East senior Grace Pickell also repeated as champions.
Vasquez blistered the field in the Class 4A boys 3,200 meters, winning by more than 8 seconds in 9:41.03.
“I was shooting for the school record of 9:27, but I locked up,” Vasquez said. “I still ran 9:41, which isn’t bad. I put myself right back where I’m supposed to be.”
Pickell wasn’t able to top the state-meet record she set as a junior (5-101/2), but she did manage to beat the field again in the Class 6A girls high jump.
Both Pickell and Lawrence Free State junior Alexa Harmon-Thomas, who won the long jump (19-5), cleared 5-8, but Pickell didn’t have any misses. Harmon-Thomas missed her first attempt at 5-6.
“I’m just happy to get the gold again,” Pickell said. “Alexa is amazing and she’s fun to compete with. We’ve been back and forth all year, so I knew it could go either way.”
• Reigning cross country champion Colton Donahue, a Blue Valley senior, added the 6A boys 3,200 title to his resume in 9 minutes, 14.94 seconds.
• Olathe Northwest freshman Cameron Gueldner pulled away from the field to win the 6A girls 3,200 (11:17.63).
• Olathe East junior Caelan Neal won the 6A boys triple jump title by 18 inches (46-113/4). Each of his six jumps was over 46 feet and would have won the meet.
• Olathe South junior Braden Smith crushed the field in the 6A boys shot put, winning by well over three feet (57-31/2).
• Sitting in third place entering the 6A girls shot put final, BV North senior Jasmine Smith wound up winning by 13/4 inches (39-101/4).
• Olathe North junior Kai Rowden improved on last spring’s runner-up finish, winning the 6A boys high jump (6-8).
• Leavenworth sophomore Willie Morrison, who was seeded seventh coming out of regionals, won the 5A boys discus (166-5).
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.