Wildcats hold their own at tough regional track meet
It’s hard to imagine a regional track meet being on par with state as far as level of difficulty is concerned, but last Friday’s Class 4A regional in Hoyt may have come as close as possible in replicating that state-caliber competition.
Truth be told, some events did in fact have the top four athletes in the class competing in the field, making qualifying for the state meet that much more difficult.
Holton’s track team managed pretty well though, all things considered, as 11 HHS athletes qualified for state track and a couple more just narrowly missed out after all the results were tallied.
“Our team competed as well as it could have Friday, being one of the toughest regionals in 4A in terms of quality performances,” coach Mark Middlemist said.
The Wildcats had their fair share of those quality performances, even among those who just missed making it to state, like Emily Degenhardt (girls 800m run) and Mason Strader (boys 1600m run), who set a new personal record that would’ve qualified him in any other regional.
“You can’t ask for any better effort,” Middlemist said.
Among those athletes going to state, some familiar names rose to the top for Holton once again as Kimmi Snepp, Indie Allen, Holly Karn and Luis Butto led the charge in the Wildcats’ regional push.
Snepp was competing in one of those loaded fields in the 100m and 200m dash and, to boot, had to deal with a leg injury in the latter race.
Still, the senior managed to qualify in both races after a runner-up finish in the 100m dash and a fourth-place finish in the 200m dash despite that injury forcing her to pull up towards the end of the race (though she still broke her own school record in the event).
In addition to that, Snepp anchored the 4x100m relay with team members Holly Karn, Ashley Cook and Ashlyn Weilert, which also set a new school record at the regional meet. Their time of 50.25, good for a regional title, broke the previous record (51.1) set by Whitney Degenhardt, Crista Bechard, Melissa Nelson and Megan Middlemist in 2005.
Fellow relay team member Karn also qualified in individual competition, carving her own path to state in the 100m hurdles in a final heat that was neck-and-neck to the end.
“Holly had a great day in the hurdles in a very competitive race there and showed some grit at the end, with the last two hurdles making a difference to push through the top four,” Middlemist said.
Butto and Allen both pushed through to state in the triple jump, with Allen claiming the regional title and breaking his own school record (43’ 8 ½”) in the process. The pair nearly also made it in the long jump and showed off the versatility that has defined the boys team this season by helping the 4x100m relay team (along with Miles McClintock-Strozier and Justin Pool) qualify for state as well.
One of those spots was intended for Will Wright, but an injury suffered at the Big Seven League meet sidelined him last Friday. While there were some inconsistencies having to replace one of the relay team members, Middlemist was glad that the flexibility of his athletes still allowed him to do that and get a few more athletes to the state meet.
“It’s unfortunate for Will, but we’re fortunate enough that we’ve got the depth, especially in that relay, that we can put somebody in there to get qualified,” Middlemist said.
While state track will be an even bigger deal, Middlemist said he believes his team will be well-served and well-prepared coming out of that regional in particular as the athletes now get set to head to Wichita this weekend.
“I think being at a regional like we were last week prepares us a little bit for this week in terms of the pressure that’s going to be there,” Middlemist said. “Hopefully, we’ve mentally met that challenge and we have a good time down there.”
There is a more relaxed atmosphere around the team now, despite the high stakes, as the student-athletes have been released for summer break. Middlemist said he is trying to keep things that way before the Wildcats head down to Wichita to start preparing on Thursday.
Holton’s athletes will practice on the Wichita State University track on Thursday and try to get all the jitters out then before preparing mentally that night and hopefully, Middlemist said, coming out and performing at their peak over the weekend.
“We’ve geared ourselves for this all season long with our goals in terms of where we want to be. As far as practices now, we’re just finishing up and fine-tuning everything to get ready to go this weekend,” Middlemist said.
State competition for the Wildcat athletes will start on Friday with the preliminary heats of the girls 100m hurdles and Holly Karn up first at approximately 2:10 p.m. at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium.