Joe Wilson, Matt Allen, Bryan Leith and Brenden Barnes hope to see the infield of Wichita’s Cessna Stadium in May. That is the site of the state track and field meet.
The four have consistently improved in what have been good times in the event. Friday they won the event at the Abilene Invitational, running the 3200 meters in 8 minutes, 39.84 seconds.
“We improved about a second,” said senior Joe Wilson. “We just ran pretty good today. Three of us, me, Matt and Brenden ran (800-meter) under 2:10, 2:07. 2:08. Bryan Leith ran a 2:16. He’s not really a distance runner but we grabbed him to just finish up the relay. His time has been coming down.”
The 4x800 relay and the weight person relays were the only gold medals won by the Abilene boys’ team which finished third behind Andale and Royal Valley. Wilson also placed second in the 800 meter run in 2:10.
“Right now coach says we are ranked third at regionals and the top four go to state,” Wilson said. “I think going to state is a very realistic goal. So far we have just kept getting faster every meet, even if it is just by a second, like this meet. We want to get faster.
“I missed going to state my freshman year by a place and last year by a place,” he said.
As a freshman Wilson ran the 400-meter and 1600-meter events.
“Last year my junior year I ran 2:06 in the open 800 and got fifth,” he said. “I didn’t go to state either one of those years. It’s fun to see that we are actually looking to be one of the favorites going into the regionals.”
He said just the opportunity to qualify for state has made the runners work hard.
“I know that Brenden, the freshman, has stepped it up since we found out that we actually have a shot,” Wilson said. “He’s probably surprised us the most. Of course Bryan does everything he can. He hadn’t been running with us. He had been running with the sprinters. But he started training with us and he’s starting to get better. That’s fun to see, too. Matt and I always try to compete to the best of our abilities. He’s stepped it up but probably not quite as much as those two.”
In any relay there also the exchange of the baton which can lead to a faster time or disqualification.
“There is a difference in the way that you hand off the baton,” Wilson said. “In the 4x1 you see them coming, then you take off and you let them put the baton in your hand. With the 4x8 it’s a visual handoff. You turn back and look and you grab the baton. It’s often hard to judge because people might look strong coming into the last 50 and then just die. They are running their 800 meters their hardest.”
“They are excited,” Abilene coach Jeff Geist said of the relay. “Last year we didn’t hear much about the state track meet from the kids. We had a couple (Cody Whitehair in the shot put and Kelsey Lacy in the hurdles) who were pretty sure they would make it. But this group is really getting into it and talking about it and working hard. I’m hoping this attitude spills over to the other kids.
“This has been a great year, a great bunch of kids,” he added. “They are working hard. Hopefully, we’ll get a good group to the state track meet this year.”
Led by first-place finishes by Krista Bacon in the 300-meter hurdles and Savannah Roth in the javelin, the Cowgirls placed second behind Andale. That was without Kelsey Lacy who went to Lawrence to compete in the KU Relays.
“I think it has been a good day,” Geist said of the meet held Friday at the Ken Russell track. “We’ve had some PRs again. I don’t know how many. It’s hard to top last week when we had 19.”
One of those personal records came in the shot put for Dathan Parks. While Parks placed third, his throw Friday was five feet farther. His best throw going into the meet was 41 feet, eight inches. His throw Friday was 46-10.
“I’ve been working on it, if I can get a nice stop and jerk,” Parks said of the event. “Coach Geist has a couple things for me to work on. When I turn, I need to stay in and keep my shoulders up. I sometimes have a tendency to have my shoulder down. I’m also going to work on the spin. I went over to warm up and I threw a 42. I’m thinking it’s going to be a good day. Then I went out threw a 46-9. Then I had a 46-10. I didn’t know I had that in me.”
He missed the silver medal by 1-1/2 inch.
“I hope next time I’ll get second, at least.” He said. “But I’m going for the gold.”
Andy Wilson is also rebounding from an illness. He placed third in the long jump with his best jump of 20-6.5
“This is basically Andy Wilson’s first track meet,” Geist said. “I think maybe he jumped at one meet. Dathan Parks jumps from out of nowhere with a great throw. He’s getting some confidence.
“Eli Lahr, who nobody knows about, has PRed every meet in the javelin,” Geist said. “He’s a freshman that threw 133-02 today. We’re pretty proud of him.”
Bacon had her best time in the 300-meter hurdles. She won the event in 49.10, cutting close to two seconds off her best time.
“I thought Krista Bacon ran really well in the hurdles,” Geist said. “She battled back. She was down, I believe in third, and battled back to win.”
Roth won the javelin with her best throw of 106-2. She also placed in the pole vault.
Leading the Chapman Lady Irish was Courtney Hahn who placed second in the 1600 (6:02.96) and the 3200 (12:53.85) running events.
“Courtney Hahn is continuing to run strong in the distance events,” said Chapman coach Michelle Elliott. “The 4x100 is looking consistent and is anxious for league and regionals. These girls keep placing each meet and continue to show improvements each week.”
For the Irish boys, Thomas Meuli placed third in two sprint events. He was third in the 100 (11.58) and third in the 200 (24.19).
Lacy at KU Relays
Abilene’s Kelsey Lacy didn’t make the finals in the 100-meter high hurdles or the 300-meter “intermediate hurdles at the KU Relays
“She competed well,” said assistant coach Troy Emig. “Conditions weren’t the best at 8 o’clock this morning. Then she ran again at 1:40 this afternoon in the 300. It’s a good experience, a great atmosphere. You get to see the elite athletes from all the states.
“She knows she can do better,” he said. “That’s what she is going to try and do.”
Goracke wins three
Hope’s Shilo Goracke likes competing at Abilene.
“You know you’re the underdog,” he said of competing at Abilene. “You are from a 1A school and everyone else is 3A or 4A. So nobody really expects anything out of you.”
Goracke won two events: the long jump (20-7) and the triple jump 42-4.5. He also placed second in the 800-meter run.
“This is a little harder than the 1A regional,” he said.
Goracke said he’s been working on the 800-meter run.
“I’m trying to get under two flat in the 800,” he said. “Last year my best was 2:03.
“Work hard and practice long hours,” he said
Hope coach Gordon Polston said the Abilene meet always provides good competition.
“It makes the younger athletes push harder,” he said.
His boys’ team placed sixth.
“We have just three girls and we aren’t going to win any meets,” he added.
Raelyn Lorson, however, placed in four events. She won the long jump (16-7), placed second in the javelin (106-0), second in the triple jump (33-6) and third in the 300-meter hurdles (49.84).