The KSHSAA State Track & Field Championships is not just your proverbial three-ring circus, it is an eight- or ten-ring circus, depending if you want to count the discus and javelin going outside Cessna Stadium. So keep your meet schedule handy, read as many of the pre-meet stories as possible, and listen to the meet announcers.
Being one of the in-stadium announcers, we will try to note up-coming highlight events and individuals you will want to keep an eye on.
I know I’m missing a lot of events that should be good ones, but below are a few events that have already peaked my interest. The following events have competitors that are among the state’s all-time top 10 performers or are pushing for a spot on the list.
Javelin – 3A Girls (Friday, 1:15 p.m. starting time)
Elizabeth Herrs (St. George-Rock Creek) threw 150’10” (2011 #11 nationally) at the St. Marys regional to take the state lead and now stands #11 on the all-time state javelin list. A six-inch improvement will move her into the state’s top 10.
100m Hurdles – 6A Girls (Prelims, Friday around 2:10 p.m., with Finals, Saturday around 9:20 a.m.)
Unfortunately, we haven’t had an opportunity to watch the development of senior Kasha McDougald (Junction City) since she didn’t compete for her school team as a sophomore or junior, but she is making her presence felt this spring. She moved into a tie for second on the state A-T list with her time of 13.80 in the prelims of last week’s Wichita Heights regional along with a hand-timed 13.7 prelim mark at Valley Center earlier. Too bad a timing malfunction didn’t allow us to know what she ran, or could have run, in the final since Tahlia Pope (Wichita Heights) was leading when Pope hit a hurdle mid-race and Kasha just cruised in. Alexa Thomas-Harmon (Lawrence-Free State) ranks #12 at 14.39 and she is just a freshman. She may be just the challenger McDougald needs to take over the top spot. Thomas-Harmon also ranks #15 A-T on the 300m hurdle list and at last week’s regional meet high jumped a season best 5’7.25”, long jumped a season best 17’9.5”, and ran 14.50 (Season Best – 14.39) and 45.45 (SB 44.01) in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles. She is probably the best girl, multi-event (heptathlon) prospect Kansas has had since Olympian Kym Carter competed for Wichita East in the early 1980’s. Le’Tristan Pledger (5A – KC Washington) ranks #3 on the 100m Hurdle A-T list off her 13.90 performance last season. She will race just prior to 6A in both the preliminaries and finals of the hurdles.
Pole Vault – 5A Girls (Friday, 3:00 p.m. starting time)
Cara Detmer (Bishop Carroll) gets the first shot at moving up the all-time list after clearing her season best 12’6” to move into a tie for third on the list, 1” short of #2 A-T and 2” short of equaling the all-time state best of 12’8” set last season by Drue Davis (Lawrence-Free State). Cara should get a challenge though from Emily Brigham (Mill Valley) who is just one-quarter inch shy of a spot in the top 10 and who vaulted 12’4” indoors this winter at a “vault-only meet”.
Shot Put – 6A Boys (Friday, 4:45 p.m. starting time)
Blake Hocking (Lawrence) has thrown the 12-pound ball 62’9” to gain a tie for #10 on the all-time shot put list, only three-fourths-inch short of holding the #9 spot. Garrett Appier (Paola -4A, Friday at 6:30 p.m.) and Brian Williamson (6A – SM East) both are over 58-feet and have the 60-foot barrier as a goal in addition to state gold.
Long Jump – 5A Girls (Friday, 6:30 p.m. starting time)
Le’Tristan Pledger (KC Washington) became the state’s #2 all-time best in the long jump last summer when she soared 20’3” to place third at the elite, IAAF Youth Olympics in Singapore. She popped her season best and state leading 19’7” at last week’s regional so it appear she may be ready to challenge Sandra Myers’ (Little River) all-time state best of 20’6.5”.
Triple Jump – 6A Girls (Friday, 6:30 p.m. starting time)
Alyssa Kelly (Blue Valley West) gave Kansas a pair of 40-foot triple jumpers this spring when she went 40’00.75”. She gets first shot at moving up the state A-T list with state leader, 5A’s Jalisa Brice of Gardner-Edgerton watching.
Javelin – 5A Boys (Friday, 6:30 p.m. starting time)
It isn’t often we have two of the state’s all-time top 10 facing off for a state title, but that is the case in the 5A boys’ javelin. MaCauley Garton (Mill Valley) and Tyson Holmes (Shawnee Heights) rank #3 and #10, respectively, on the A-T Kansas list with their season bests of 224’3” (2011 #2 nationally) and 211’0” (2011 #6 nationally). Holmes was upset in last week’s Seaman regional so he’ll have additional incentive to perform well this weekend. Garrett Griffin (Louisburg-4A, 3:00 p.m. Saturday) currently ranks #15 on the all-time list at 207’10” (2011 #8 nationally) and would like to become the state’s third A-T top 10 spear chucker of 2011.
Pole Vault – 5A Boys (Saturday, 8:00 a.m. starting time)
Casey Bowen (Gardner-Edgerton) became the state’s first prep to clear 17-feet since 1980 when he cleared 17’1” (2011 =#5 nationally) in winning last week’s regional. That clearance ranks #2 all-time on the all-time Kansas high school list. With good weather and a nice Cessna Stadium tail-wind, he has a real shot at Steve Stubblefield’s (KS Wyandotte) all-time state best of 17’6”.
100m – 6A Girls (Prelims, Saturday around 8:50 a.m., with Finals around 12:40 p.m.)
Alisha Keys (Junction City), Toni Aguiar (Shawnee Mission East), and Taylor Chandler (Wichita Heights) have each taken advantage of some brisk Kansas winds to move into the #1, =#7, and #10 spots, respectively, on the all-time Kansas girls’ list at 100 meters at 11.52, 11.5, and 11.79. Class 5A, with prelims and finals immediately before 6A, should also be a “burner” with Aleni Zavesky (Salina Central) and Le’Tristan Pledger (KC Washington) going head-to-head.
Triple Jump – 5A Girls (Saturday, 9:45 a.m. starting time)
Jalisa Brice (Gardner-Edgerton) bounded all the way into #4 on the A-T triple jump list with her 2011 state leading 40’3.5”. Like House in the girls’ 4A vault, Brice will know how far Kelly went in Friday’s 6A triple when she goes to the runway, plus she should be challenged by Sarah Kolmer (Emporia).
Pole Vault – 4A Girls(Saturday, 11:30 a.m. starting time)
Jaimie House (ElDorado) will know how Detmer and Brigham did on Friday when she goes into Saturday’s 4A event. She trails Detmer by one-half inch with her 12’5.5” season best. She too wants to finish her high school career as the state’s all-time leader and has a goal of becoming the first, four-time state champion in the girls’ pole vault.
Shot Put – 6A Girls (Saturday, 3:00 p.m. starting time)
Kansas had never had a girl 50-foot shot putter before 2010 when Kearsten Peoples (Ottawa) broke the barrier with her all-time state best of 51’10.75”. Megan Smith (Olathe South) has joined the ranks of the 50-footers this
spring, throwing a season best 50’2” (2011 #2 nationally). Will the Cessna Stadium ring give us another 50-footer and possibly a second all-time state best two years in a row?
Javelin – 5A Girls (Saturday, 1:15 p.m. starting time)
Dani Plank (Gardner-Edgerton) will know when she begins her competition whether she needs to improve her season best of 150’0” (2011 #12 nationally) by more than 11 inches to take the top position on the state leader board since Herrs throws on Friday. Dani enters the state meet ranked in a tie for #13 on the A-T state list.
Others to watch:
Lauren Pickens (2A – Peabody-Burns) – Winner of nine individual state championships (100m – 3; 200m – 3; 400m – 3), she is going for gold in all three events again.
Le’Tristan Pledger (5A – KC Washington) – Winner of seven previous individual state titles (100m – 1; 200m – 1; 100mHurdles – 3; Long Jump – 2), she has qualified for state this year in the 100m Dash, 100m Hurdles, and Long Jump, and will run on Washington’s 4x100m Relay.
Ashley Shearer (1A – Cunningham) – Winner of three straight triple jump titles, she is attempting to become only the third girl to win four straight triple jump championships. She enters the 2011 state meet with a total of five individual state titles (TJ – 3; HJ – 1; LJ – 1) to her credit and has qualified this year’s meet in the high jump, long jump, triple jump, and 100m.
Returning, single-season three-event individual champions from 2010:
Pickens (above) – 100m, 200m, 400m
Shearer (above) – HJ, LJ, TJ