Olathe Northwest’s dynamic duo of Jaleesa McWashington and Maddie Righter stole the show at times on Saturday.
They combined for three state championships and five top-three finishes at the 2019 Kansas high school state track meet at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium. And they went one-two in the Class 6A long jump.
Coming into Saturday, McWashington and Righter had two of the top marks in Kansas all-time in the long jump, and they lived up to the billing. McWashington took first at 18 feet, 3 inches, and Righter came runner-up at 17-10.25.
McWashington’s second state title came in the 300-meter hurdles, beating the field at 45.79 seconds.
Just prior, Righter won her state title in the high jump at 5-8 and took a shot at 5-11, 1 inch above her personal best. Olathe South’s Danielle Winslow was runner-up at 5-6. Righter also was runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles at 15.21 seconds in just her first year in the event.
Righter’s name was splattered throughout the Kansas state track leaderboards coming into the meet. She said that to have a big reputation across not only the Kansas City area but the entire state is meaningful to her.
“It has definitely brought me closer with my teammates,” she said. “It’s a heart-warming feeling to know I’m kind of considered a role model for some of the underclassmen. I have made a lot of connections over the past four years.”
Sumner’s Houston takes Wichita
Everything Nashon Houston touched turned to gold.
The Sumner Academy senior has had an illustrious high school, and it culminated Saturday in Wichita with a pair of state championships in his only two events: the 5A 100-meter dash and long jump.
Houston said though he knows Sumner isn’t known for its athletics, it means a lot to wear the bib.
“We don’t have a lot of star athletes, but you just have to compete with who’s next to you,” he said. “It’s the same for people all around the world. You just have to set your bar high and keep working.”
Houston’s day started with a state title in the 100 meters at 10.79 seconds. He won another with a leap of 22 feet, 8.5 inches in the long jump.
The long jump title was more expected. Of all the Class 5A state qualifiers, Houston had the No. 2 leap at his regional meet at 23-4.5. But the 100-meter title was a big surprise.
Entering the race, Houston had the No. 13 regional time in 5A at 11.11 seconds. He wasn’t considered among the favorites, and even during the race, he sneaked to the title.
Houston said he had too much fun and didn’t get enough sleep Friday night and was surprised with how well he performed on Kansas high school track’s biggest stage.
“I focused but didn’t take it too hard on myself,” he said. “I relaxed, and I think that helped a lot, leaving it up to whoever.”
The Saints go running in: Aquinas’ distance runners pull through
St. Thomas Aquinas had arguably the best group of three distance runners in Kansas coming into Saturday, and they didn’t disappoint.
Senior Ethan Marshall won the Class 5A 1,600 meters at 4 minutes, 20.15 seconds and also finished fourth in the 3,200 meters.
Junior Aiden Higgerson came in sixth in the 1,600 and seventh in the 3,200. And sophomore Thomas Hazen had some of the top times in the state, too.
Marshall was the Saints’ headliner in 2019. After picking up track as an aid to his soccer season, he quickly learned he could make something more of it.
He gave up soccer entirely, and the risk paid off Saturday. Marshall said being part of such a talented group was an amazing experience.
“Track is amazing because there are so many events and so many places you can excel in,” he said. “I’m very happy with my decision. All the hard days, the morning runs at 6 a.m., the winter runs in the snow and freezing rain, it’s just about getting out there with my teammates and doing what I do.”
Lightning and Thunder: St. James goes the distance to near team title
In the 5A girls 800 meters, St. James Academy’s Hannah Robinson took home the title at 2:17.91. The Thunder’s Sarah Murrow came runner-up at 2:18.59, and just for good measure, Katherine Moore came third at 2:20.84 to sweep the podium.
It was that kind of a day for St. James Academy’s girls team as the Thunder earned eight top three finishes and three state titles in the 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs.
Girls 400 meters
- Kindel Nordhus, Bishop Carroll - 57.49
- Hannah Robinson, St. James - 58.78
- Katherine Moore, St. James - 59.32
Girls 800 meters
- Hannah Robinson, St. James - 2:17.91
- Sarah Murrow, St. James - 2:18.59
- Katherine Moore, St. James - 2:20.84
Girls 1,600 meters
- Sarah Murrow, St. James - 5:15.47
- Katherine Moore, St. James - 5:19.14
- Zoie Ecord, Maize - 5:19.14
Girls 3,200 meters
- Sarah Murrow, St. James - 11:04.87
- Hope Jackson, Bishop Carroll - 11:15.15
- Gigi Loffredo, BV Southwest - 11:29.00
St. James enters the final day with a 77-67 lead over Bishop Carroll in team points. There is one track event left, the 4x400-meter relay, and St. James is the second favorite with a qualifying time of 4:07.95. Carroll is in the first heat at 4:14.59.
On the field, there are two events left. In javelin, Page Mindedahl is a favorite in the second flight. Carroll has no thrower in the second flight. And in triple jump, neither team has a real team point contender.
The news: It would take a miracle for the Thunder to lose out on their third team title since 2013.
Wait for it: Gardner-Edgerton sophomore starting to create legacy
Kendra Wait is next in line.
Following her sister Cassie, a volleyball player at KU, and her brother Kyler, a pole vaulter at K-State, Kendra is poised for greatness over the next two years. She showed why Saturday.
Wait, a Gardner-Edgerton sophomore, won two state championships, took runner-up in a third and finished fourth to round out the day.
The day started with a state championship in the Class 6A 100-meter dash at 12.04 seconds. She followed it vaulting 11 feet, 6 inches, finishing second to Lawrence’s Josie Hickerson. Wait got back on track with a title in the shot put at 42-11.75.
And in one of the final events of the day before weather postponed the remainder of the meet to Sunday, Wait finished fourth in the 200 meters at 25.67.
Piper’s odds looking good going into final events
Kansas City Piper holds a 12-point lead in the 4A boys team standings with a couple of events to go, and the girls are safely into second.
The Pirates have been led by some outstanding performances. In the 4A boys 4x100-meter relay, sophomore Brandon Snell, junior David Holmes, senior Dalton White and senior Devon Marshall won the title at 42.89 seconds, topping Parsons by almost two tenths.
In 4A boys shot put, Cooper Beebe took third, launching 54-.75 on his final throw to finish out the top three in a loaded field. He fell behind Andale’s Mason Fairchild at 54-3.75 and the state champion, Tonganoxie’s Cole Sample at 59-6.25.
On the girls’ side, Piper set a new state meet record with a 48.36-second performance in the 4A 4x100-meter relay. Sophomore Evelyn Vasquez, sophomore Kinley Brown, freshman Saniya Simmons and junior Ayreona Carter broke the record by more than three tenths. The group will have a shot at breaking its own record next year.
And in an all-Kansas City top three, Simmons also took first in the girls long jump at 17-.5, beating out Miege’s Sarah Perico and Natalie Meyers.
- After a disappointing start to her first state track meet, Leavenworth freshman Dhakiya Blake, one of the most promising athletes in Kansas, found her stride in the 6A girls 400 meters. Blake won the event at 56.92 seconds, just edging Derby’s Aneesa Abdul-Hameed by about a half second. Blake’s name was splattered throughout the state’s top times this spring and had antoher good showing in the 200 meters, coming runner-up at 25.00, only two hundreths away from Lawrence’s Asjah Harris.
- Blue Valley West junior David Brown had an outstanding day, winning two state championships. He started in the 6A 400 meters, winning at 48.86 seconds, edging Leavenworth’s Guy Ramos at the line. Ramos entered with the state’s top time. He followed it with a strong second leg performance in the 4x100 relay that took first at 42.09 seconds, ahead of Gardner-Edgerton and the 2018 champion Wichita South. The 4x100 team was made up of sophomore Andrew Bradley, Brown, senior Jacob Stenslie and senior anchor Nevan Tebb-Lolar, who came runner-up in the 6A 100 meters.
- Mill Valley’s Harry Ahrenholtz won the 6A boys high jump title at 6-4 over Blue Valley North’s Andrew Orr, but the deciding factor came at 5-10. Ahrenholtz hit the mark on his first attempt, and it took Orr until his third. Both hit 6-0 and 6-2 on their first go and 6-4 on their second.
- In a loaded 6A boys triple jump field, Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Chanler Taylor soard past the rest, winning the title at 47-0. Five competitors went over 43-0, but Taylor needed only one go to get his mark. Even without multiple flights and a championship flight, Taylor took advantage of one of his four leaps. Taylor’s mark exactly match Campus’ Federico Harvey, who won the title last year.
- De Soto junior Emily Fuhr had an outstanding day, winning the 5A girls discus and shot put. In discus, she won at 125-2 on her third throw. She fouled on all three others. Salina South’s Reagan Geihsler came runner-up, and she fouled on two of her attempts before going 122-1 on her final. In shot put, Fuhr trailed by about six inches going into her final throw, and she launched past Emporia’s Taylor Milleson.
- Gardner-Edgerton senior Colton Goodman helped the Blazers’ state title cause with one of his own in the 6A boys pole vault, going 14-0 and beating Blue Valley’s Dylan Arnold. Goodman’s clearance came on his second attempt. He gave 14-6 a go but could not get over the bar.
- Cade Heikes had what could be considered an upset over Shawnee Mission North’s Asher Molina in the 6A boys 1,600 meters. Heikes won the state title at 4:23.02, topping Molina by more than three seconds. Molina was last year’s 6A champion at 4:23.10.
- Mill Valley ran away with it. The Jaguars’ girls 4x800-meter relay team took the title at 9:34.78, more than 18 seconds ahead of Lawrence in second. Mill Valley’s team was made up of senior Delaney Kemp, junior Morgan Koca, freshman Katie Schwartzkopf and sophomore Molly Ricker.
- The state record looked in danger for a moment as Olathe Northwest’s 4x800-meter relay team brought home the state title at 8:03.86. The Ravens’ relay team was made up of freshman Bret Beard, seniors Braeden Beard, Andrew Tracy and Cole Morris.
- Hitting her personal best, Leavenworth junior Colbie Fairley became a 6A girls discus champion Saturday with a toss of 127-8, topping Blue Valley West’s Sheridan Bredehoeft. Fairley found her mark on the second throw and had to hold her breath as Bredehoeft had hers in the fourth and final throw.
- A group of seniors brought a freshman along as St. Thomas Aquinas’ Katherine Cox, Kaitlyn Dare and Olivia Sovereign worked with freshman Alexis Huddin to win the 5A girls 4x800-meter relay at 9:51.78, edging BV Southwest by about four tenths.
- Lansing junior Terry Robinson defended his turf. Entering with the top 800 meter time in all of Kansas this year at 1:55.99, Robinson was one hundreth from tying his PR, but that was enough for the 5A boys title, fending off Andover’s Samuel McDavitt at 1:57.03.
- With a PR, Bonner Springs senior Nasjon Porter won the 5A boys triple jump at 46-4.75, edging Lansing’s Chystian Huff at 44-6.5. Porter was trailing by almost two feet entering his final jump but nailed the launch for the title as Huff fouled on his last attempt.
- Olathe East senior Jacob Vermillion just edged Blue Valley’s Hunter Wilcox at the line for a state title in the 6A boys 800 meters at 1:57.68. He also helped the Hawks to a runner-up finish in the 4x800 meter relay at 8:05.27.
- Just missing her PR, Blue Valley North junior Lexy Farrington won the 6A girls javelin title on her last throw. After fouling her first two and watching the top mark get pushed to 129-10, Farrington launched her final jav to bring her first title.