For the second year in a row, the St. Thomas Aquinas boys track and field team won the Kansas Class 5A title Saturday in Wichita.
Junior transfer Noah Green led the Saints with three gold medals, one of them in teaming with Devin Diggs, Alexander Gill and Landon Wirt for the 1,600-meter relay title. Green had outpaced Blue Valley Southwest’s anchor runner by a solid 10 meters when he crossed the finish line at Cessna Stadium.
Aquinas entered the event, the last one of the day, leading Bishop Carroll on the team scoreboard by 7.5 points. The Saints won with 80.5 points, Carroll placed second with 65 and Leavenworth was third with 62.
“The 4x400 has kind of been our closer,” Aquinas coach Justin Wrigley said. “They put it away and secured it. We’ve been talking all four years I’ve been head coach about how you’ve got to have a strong 4x4 to close out the meet.”
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Green, a nationally-ranked athlete who won state titles in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and the 1,600 relay for BV Southwest last year, broke the all-classes record he set as a sophomore in the 110 hurdles by .12 seconds on Saturday afternoon. He finished in 13.90 seconds. He also won the 300 hurdles in 37.15 seconds.
Aquinas got a boost in the standings on Gill’s win in the 1,600-meter run (1:58.44) and Diggs’ second-place finish in the 400 (49.63).
“Bishop Carroll got off to a really good start. Coach Swords does an awesome job with their program,” Wrigley said. “They are deep and good across the board…Later the in afternoon we finally caught up. The boys 1,600 (run) got us real close. That was a big momentum (boost) for us.”
Among other athletes to turn heads at the all-classes meet this weekend was Leavenworth’s Clifford Robinson, who blazed through the 200 meters in 21.72 seconds for the 5A title and won the 100 in 10.71 seconds. Robinson also anchored the championship 400 relay team (42.07), which ranked first in the state after finishing in 41.91 seconds at regionals.
“They were one of the teams we were looking out for and they proved why this weekend,” Wrigley said. “They were really, really tough. Hats off to Leavenworth and their coaching staff.”
Olathe Northwest gave junior Julian Lacey the nickname “Juice” — according to a tweet posted by the team on the handle @ONWTracknField — after nabbing an upset victory in the Class 6A boys 400 dash.
Lacey had been in sixth place, trailing defending champion Cameron Waldo of Olathe South. But with some late adrenaline coursing through him, Lacey surged into second. Arms pumping, Lacey edged Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Hayden Goodpaster for the win.
“I was just trying to keep up with Cameron Waldo. We ran on the same summer track team and have competed all year,” Lacey said to the Cox television crew after the race.
On the girls side, Olathe Northwest finished second in Class 6A with 66 points, just two behind Junction City.
The points race came down to the 1,600 relay, an event that Olathe Northwest did not qualify for. Junction City only needed to place fifth or higher to win, and it ended up coming in fourth behind Hutchinson, Blue Valley North and Garden City.
Paola junior Samantha van Hoecke had such a busy Saturday afternoon, officials had to pause the Class 4A pole vault in order for her to compete in the 100-meter dash.
As soon as she cooled down from winning silver in the sprint, she had some time to recover, take her marks and throw her momentum onto a pole. With each level she cleared, she was conscious of the fact that she would never have soared this high on this stage a year ago.
Then she cleared the 12-foot-6 bar, won the Class 4A championship and set a new class record. The previous high was 12-1, set in 2010.
Van Hoecke no-heighted in the pole vault at regionals last year and did not make it to state in the event. This season, she had made it as high as 12 feet at a meet a few weeks ago, a height she hadn’t reached since the summer.
“I was kind of freaking out down the runway, not gonna lie,” she said. “I just wanted to go for it. … It’s a cool feeling because you’re in the air and whenever you turn over you see the bar below you and you just know you did something right.”
Maranatha Christian senior Brooke Brownlee capped a prolific career with two individual gold medals and a relay championship. She won her third straight titles in the 100-meter dash (12.35) and 200 (25.27).
Brownlee also anchored the 1,600 relay team, narrowly beating second-place Heritage Christian.
▪ Blue Valley North’s Sophie Scott won the 800-meter run in 2:17.24.
▪ Senior Emily Venters of Lawrence Free State won the 1,600 run. She also won the 3,200 run Friday night.
▪ Olathe Northwest sophomore Madeline Righter cleared 5 feet, 8 inches on her first attempt in the high jump and won the title. She finished 6 for 10 on attempts to beat Olathe South’s Summer Kragel, who also jumped 5-8.
▪ After going 5 for 5 on jumps and clearing the 12-foot bar, Olathe Northwest’s Rachael Mayberry won gold in the pole vault.
▪ Jessie Stindt’s 39-7 triple jump gave her Shawnee Mission East’s only gold medal of the meet.
▪ SM West’s 3,200 relay team of Mary Humphreys, Dara Williams, Riley Kaiser and Lindsey Rowatt won in 9:38.90, beating runner-up SM North by 14 seconds for gold.
▪ Olathe North’s Dana Baker won gold in javelin with a throw of 149-6, 19 feet farther than the runner-up.
▪ Senior Cameron Waldo anchored the Olathe South 3,200 relay team that included Tre Adger, Nolan McKay and Emmanuel Okwuone and won the title in 3:21.65.
▪ By barely a step, Blue Valley’s Adam Owens won the 1,600-meter run in 4:25.97 for his second title of the meet. He won the 3,200 Friday night.
▪ With a season-best time of 1:56.56, Olathe North’s Brandon Clark won the 800.
▪ St. James Academy’s 1,600 relay team of Ashley Wurtenberger, Katherine Moore, Celeste Buchanan and Emma Gossman won in 3:58.91.
Gossman ran the 400 in 57.92 for a gold medal earlier in the meet.
▪ Mill Valley senior Morgan Thomas and teammate Megan Eckman finished first and second with 5-6 high jumps.
▪ Mill Valley’s 3,200 relay team of Mary Nelson, Morgan Koca, Isabella Hadden and Delaney Kemp finished in 9:38.35, 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Blue Valley Southwest.
▪ Blue Valley West sophomore Jada Davis edged Olathe South senior Grace Williams for first place in the 100-meter dash in 12.31 seconds.
▪ BV Southwest’s 3,200 relay team of Dylan Miller, JD Espenmiller, Cameron Fasenmyer and Andrew Lawrence won in 8:07.16.
▪ On his second successful attempt, Tonganoxie’s LeeRoi Johnson threw his javelin 180-3 for gold. The runner-up threw 159-9.
▪ By an inch, Piper’s Micaiah Noel won the boys shot put with a toss of 56-4 1/2 .
▪ Bishop Miege junior Cameron Key’s last triple jump of 46-0 1/4 won him the title.
▪ Piper’s 400 relay team of David Holmes, JJ Letcher, Devon Marshall and Jalen Taylor won in 42.77, with Taylor crossing the finish line just ahead of Bishop Miege’s Jaden Johnson for gold.
▪ Coming out of the backstretch, Paola’s Matthew Wilson surged ahead and won the 800 run in 1:55.77.
▪ Paola’s 1,600 relay team of Brandon Wilkes, Tyler Fletcher, Matthew Wilson and Andrew Phillips won in 3:23.41.
▪ Paola junior Bea Pomatto threw the discus 122-08 on her final attempt to win the title by a margin of 3-11.
▪ Maranatha Academy’s 400 relay team of Grace Wojcik, Phoebe Hines, Aaliyah Buckner and Brooke Brownlee won in 50.35, narrowly beating second-place Heritage Christian.
▪ Heritage Christian won the 1,600 relay in 4:11.13 with a team of upperclassmen Kate Allen, Annalee Rolf and Mary Jane Palodichuk and freshman Aysa Benally running anchor.