Northeast Kansas track athletes capture a bounty of state medals
Jackson County’s six state medals earned over the weekend were just a drop in a pretty full bucket as the Big Seven, Northeast Kansas and Twin Valley leagues had a fruitful trip to Wichita for the state track meet.
Among the Wetmore and Atchison County schools, four athletes walked away with medals as Tiger Madison Bissell finished fourth in the Class 3A girls 800m run, while the 4x400m relay team of Bissell, Kayla Vessar, Lillie Holtgrave and Beba Scholz took eighth in that event.
Katie Sullivan also nearly captured a medal for ACCHS, finishing 10th in the Class 3A girls triple jump. Wetmore’s Aaron Achten, the lone Cardinal competing at state track this weekend, had a similar performance and came in 10th in the Class 1A boys 3200m run.
Of the individual performances from area athletes, Valley Heights’ Elijah Smith had one of the most outstanding weekends as he walked away with four gold medals in the 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles long jump and triple jump.
In addition, Smith shattered the Class 1A state meet record in the triple jump by more than a foot (48’ 9 ¾”), winning that event and the 110m hurdles for the third year in a row to add to the total of nine state titles he captured in his career, tying another state record.
Smith wasn’t the only TVL athlete to set state records, either, as the Hanover boys 4x100m relay team set a new 1A state record in the prelims (43.3 seconds) on the way to a state championship. In fact, the Wildcats would sweep the state titles in the relays, adding gold medal performances in the 4x400m and 4x800m races as well.
Clifton-Clyde’s Kourtni Hubert also got in on the record-setting action with a throw of 141’ 6” earning here an individual state title and a spot in the record books.
Other individual state champions from the TVL included Bradie Schmitz (Axtell, 1A girls 400m dash), Darrian Turner (Centralia, 1A boys 200m dash), Preston Jueneman (Hanover, 1A boys 400m dash), Kayla Smith (Valley Heights, 1A girls long and triple jump), Sidney Blackburn (Valley Heights, 1A girls discus), Erin Alexander (Washington County, 2A girls shot put), Dylan Hodgson (Washington County, 2A boys 3200m run) and the Linn girls 4x100m relay team.
No Northeast Kansas League teams were as lucky this weekend, but the Big Seven League had a number of individual state titles to add to that total as well.
Nemaha Central had a champion in each division, with Shaylyn Stallbaumer taking gold in the Class 3A girls javelin and Jacob Koelzer claiming an individual title in the 3A boys long jump. Sabetha and Hiawatha each had one state champion as well, with Blue Jay Meagan Garrett claiming a third straight title in the 3A girls high jump, while Red Hawk Emily Gartner claimed the top spot in the Class 3A girls discus competition.
Riverside’s Andrae McGaughy also got in on the championship action in one of the most exciting races for the Big Seven in state competition. McGaughy laid it all on the line and took a tumble at the finish, but still managed to claim an individual title in the 3A boys 300m hurdles.
There was numerous team hardware to be claimed by the league teams as well, with TVL members Linn and Valley Heights finishing one and two in the Class 1A girls standings while Hanover and Valley Heights did the same in the boys standings.
In Class 2A, Washington County’s boys finished runner-up as a team while both Nemaha Central team’s claimed trophies in Class 3A. The NCHS boys finished third, while the girls placed fourth overall.