With two top individual finishers and a record-breaking time in the 1,600-meter relay, the Olathe East boys captured the Kansas Class 6A track and field championship last Saturday at Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University.
For the Hawks, Caelan Neal successfully defended his title in the triple jump by spanning 48 feet, 8 1/4 inches, which was the best of his high school career, and AJ Stephens won gold in the tightly-contested 110-meter hurdles. He crossed the line 5 one-hundredths of a second ahead of Khalil Austin of Topeka.
The Olathe East relay team of Kyle Evans, Nathan Matters, Dajuane Washington-Box and Parker Evans set a meet record in the 1,600-meter relay in 3 minutes, 17.07 seconds.
The Olathe East girls finished second in their competition and were led by Kelsey Lathrop who contributed to the 3,200 relay, won the 400 and defended her title in the 800. Jasmine Thomas repeated as state champion in the 100.
Distance runners lead Aquinas girls to 5A title
After the St. Thomas Aquinas girls won the Kansas Class 5A cross country championship with a perfect score last fall, it should not have surprised anyone to see them doing well in the distance events at state track this spring as well.
The Saints took the top three spots in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter events, which helped them take the Class 5A state title. St. James Academy finished four points behind in second place.
“As bizarre as it sounds, that was the goal, not out of arrogance, but out of experience,” Saints coach Justin Wrigley said. “When I was a kid, it was harder to scout the opponents, but with some great websites and results available, you can really scout the opponents and keep an eye on what’s out there. So as the season progressed, we really thought we had a shot to do it.”
The group of Bailee Cofer, Emily Downey and Grace Geiger finished 1-2-3 in seven different meets during the season. Cofer won both events at state, Downey took second in the 1,600 and Geiger was runner-up in the 3,200.
Abigail Hopfinger, Paige Hopfinger, Haley Dietsch and Maggie Sieben added a victory in the 3,200 relay.
Harrell leads Maranatha to 2A championship
Maranatha Academy’s Lauren Harrell entered the Kansas Class 2A state meet looking to defend her title in the 1,600 meters, but she left with much more.
She swept the 3,200, 1,600 and 800 races while leading the Eagles to their third consecutive state championship.
Olathe South’s Braden Smith won the shot put and discus for the second straight season, and Tanner Green defended his title in the 200 meters.
Blue Valley Northwest’s Samuel Guinn repeated in the 1,600.