Wildcats get bang for their buck at state track in Wichita
Even in taking just a small group of athletes to the state track meet in Wichita, the Wildcats of Holton managed to pull off something pretty special this weekend.
The HHS girls had four athletes competing in four events, one of those being a relay, at the Class 4A state track meet and every one of them ended up walking away with a state medal. In addition, that collective performance yielded a top-10 finish for the Lady Wildcats as a team.
“That’s a great accomplishment when you get to that level, compete at that state meet and come away with medals,” HHS coach Mark Middlemist said. “For our girls, it’s a tremendous accomplishment for them and I couldn’t be much prouder.”
While Middlemist noted that showing can help build a strong foundation for the future, it was also a pretty special moment in the present, especially for senior Kimmie Snepp, who claimed three medals in her final trip to the state meet.
“When I first came out for track, there was no way I ever imagined I would make it to the state championships,” Snepp said.
Yet, that’s just what Snepp did her freshman year. Then, a car accident that following summer and back injuries suffered from it slowed her down in her sophomore season.
Snepp said she felt like she had lost that speed she needed to compete at a high level and eventually ended up going out for softball her junior year, but she couldn’t stay away from the track for long.
“I wanted to do something that I was going to achieve in and then I thought back to all these memories I had from state track when I came here as a freshman,” Snepp said. “I was like, ‘I would love to relive memories,’ and all my friends were pushing me to come out for track, so it kind of encouraged me to come back out.”
That little push snowballed over the course of this spring and ended with Snepp capturing third-place medals in the 4A girls 100m and 200m dash to go along with a fourth-place finish as part of the 4x100m relay team. She is also a school record-holder in all three events.
After the preliminary heat of the 100m dash on Saturday morning, a race Snepp admitted wasn’t one of her best, is when she started to feel confident she could achieve what wasn’t even in her wildest dreams.
If Snepp could qualify for finals without her best time, she thought there was no limit on what she could accomplish in the finals and she noted the regional competition the week prior was a key ingredient in the success she had at the state track meet this weekend.
“There was actually someone in front of me to push me to work harder and get a faster time,” Snepp said.
While the first race on Saturday may have been a spark to Snepp individually, Middlemist also noted he felt it fueled the girls as a team moving forward in the day.
Cool temperatures settled in for most of the day after a muggy Friday afternoon and while it could have presented a challenge, Snepp shook it off right away and the rest of the Wildcats followed suit.
“She’s a pretty tough kid and battled that and I thought that really anchored the rest of our girls team on Saturday as well,” Middlemist said. “We’ve talked before the last couple years about you want to save your best for the last couple meets and our girls really did that.”
Holly Karn was up next in the finals of the 100m hurdles and she proceeded to clock her best time of the year, finishing the race in 15.92 seconds to finish fifth in Class 4A. That came on the heels of Karn matching her previous best time in prelims just to qualify for the finals.
“Running her two best times of the year at the state meet, you can’t ask for anything better than that,” Middlemist said. “For her to do that, her confidence level is going to be really good going into next year. She just rose to the occasion. I thought she stepped up mentally and really did well and I’m really proud of her.”
Considering the recent history of Holton hurdlers at the state meet, Karn noted she felt some pressure carrying that torch, but she was ecstatic and even more motivated after seeing the final results.
“That was a great feeling that I got my best time here,” Karn said. “I’m definitely going to work harder to hopefully do better next year.”
After Karn’s race in the hurdles, the 4x100m relay team got its chance in the finals and was coming off a performance in the prelims that saw the team break their own school record with a qualifying time of 50.18 seconds.
While the foursome of Ashlyn Weilert, Ashley Cook, Karn and Snepp didn’t quite match that in the finals, it was still a pretty impressive and exciting finish.
“It feels awesome for my first year to come to state and have a great group of girls to run it with. It was a blast,” Weilert said.
“It’s really exciting winning a state medal,” Cook added. “I was kind of worried going into prelims, but not really. I came out and had high expectations for this. I feel like we fell a little bit short, but I’m still really happy.”
Snepp then closed out the day with her second third-place performance in the 200m dash in a tough field that included multiple state champions.
The Holton boys, meanwhile, had some tough breaks at the state meet as a dropped exchange ended the 4x100m relay team’s hopes of medaling.
Relay team members Luis Butto and Indie Allen did have a second shot at a medal, competing in the 4A boys triple jump competition on Friday and Allen ended up claiming the lone medal for the boys with a fourth-place finish. Butto just missed out on joining him in the finals and finished 10th in the event.
After breaking his own school record at regionals last week while admittedly not performing his best, Allen said he felt he could get over that 44-foot mark at the state meet.
The senior just missed that mark, but he still went out as one of the top triple jumpers in the state and was pleased with how he ended his HHS track career.
“It really means a lot and I know it means a lot to my family, too,” Allen said. “Representing my dad (four-time state qualifier Aaron Allen) like that, not just my dad but Holton in general, and getting a medal out of it was fantastic. I’m glad I could represent a school like Holton.”
“To come away with a medal at state, that’s quite an accomplishment to be remembered by. I think he may be disappointed, but I think he’s pretty happy to have what he finished with,” Middlemist added.
Overall, Middlemist said the Holton athletes were composed and ready for state competition. While there may have been some disappointments, he noted the Wildcats performed well as a group and set a good example for those athletes who will be returning.
“I was just impressed with their mental preparation, their focus and they way we got along. Those are the things that we can come back and build on with our younger kids in the years to come,” Middlemist said.