Here are five things to watch in the high school portion of the 89th Kansas Relays, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence.
1. The pole vaulters
Just how competitive are the Kansas Relays?
Well, Park Hill senior Christopher Nilsen and Lee’s Summit West senior Nicole Kallenberger broke Missouri state-meet records in the pole vault last spring, but neither won the event at the Kansas Relays.
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That could change this week.
Nilsen has already topped his mark from last season. He vaulted 17 feet, 1 inch at the Darwin Rold Invitational on April 15.
Likewise, Kallenberger has the best girls mark in Missouri this spring. She cleared the bar at 12 feet, 6 inches last weekend.
2. The jumpers
In terms of pure athleticism, the must-see event might be the boys long jump, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday. It features a pair of Division I athletes — Olathe North senior Isaiah Simmons (Clemson) and Blue Springs senior Justin Hall (Texas Tech) — who are ranked first in their respective state.
Simmons is the Kansas Class 6A defending champion in the long jump, and he’s leaping nearly two feet farther this season, hitting 24 feet, 5 inches. Hall has reached 24 feet, 1 inches this season.
3. The hurdlers
The top boys hurdlers from both sides of the state line will square off in Lawrence.
Blue Springs South senior Savion Cauveren has recorded the best 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles times in Missouri this spring, and Blue Valley Southwest sophomore Noah Green owns the fastest times in Kansas in the same two events. Cauveren is scheduled to compete in both races at the Kansas Relays. Green has opted to participate in the 110-meter hurdles and the 400-meter run.
4. The sprinters
Raymore-Peculiar senior Micah Beaver and Bishop Miege senior Denvoir Griffin, each a defending state champion, will go head-to-head in the boys 100-meter dash. The preliminary races are scheduled for 10:35 a.m. Friday.
Beaver won the Missouri Class 5 200-meter race last season, but he still considers the 100 his top event. Griffin is the defending champion in the Kansas Class 4A 100.
In the girls sprints, Leavenworth sophomore Aarika Lister holds the fastest times in Kansas in the 100 and 200 dashes. She will compete in the 100 and two relay races in Lawrence.
5. The relays
The events Friday and Saturday will kick off with relay races — which often produce the most dramatic moments. Few are able to replicate the 4x100 relay.
The Grandview boys headline that event with the fastest time in Missouri this season (42.52 seconds). Lawrence has recorded a time of 42.82 seconds.