Track athletes take center stage

Sports

May 28, 2010 - 12:00 AM

How great was that list of state track champions?
I’m in Wichita today and tomorrow looking to add a couple more names to the list.
The state meet this weekend at Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University is the championship event long known as hosting the largest collection of high school athletes in a single place in Kansas. It’s also the one event where all classifications of schools in Kansas are represented.
Going through “A Century of Milestones” — the official history of 100 years of Kansas high school track and field — was very interesting. Many former individual state champions have accepted invitations to return to take part in the centennial celebration. 
I’ve been covering high school sports as a reporter since 1979. I saw names of student athletes I covered early in my career. I even found names from my hometown popping up here and there.
My first state champions covered while at the Register were two in 1987. Betty Collins of Yates Center and Audra Comstock of Crest, both in their respective divisions of the high jump. That prepared me for coverage of the first Iola High School state champion in my tenure here, Bill Hobbs in the Class 4A high jump.
The 1993 season for the Mustangs was impressive. I remember that team winning every race at the regional but the hurdle races. They went to the state meet and swept the three relay races, Webb Mechling won the 200-meter dash and Justin Faulhaber with the race of his life to win the 3200-meter run crown.
Witnessing Jason Weilert of Humboldt win back-to-back Class 3A javelin titles in 1990-91 was great. John Martin of Yates Center won the 200- and 400-meter races in Class 3A in 1995.
Cara Hess took gold medals in the long jump and triple jump in 2002 for Gridley High School, then in 2004, as a senior, she captured another triple jump gold.
That is Southern Coffey County High’s lone state track championship as Gridley and Le Roy combined to create SCCH.
Molly Lonergan is a two-time Class 4A discus champion. Her winning throw of 150 feet, 7 inches in her second straight title in 2000 has stood as the Class 4A state meet record.
That is in jeopardy this weekend. Kearsten Peoples, Ottawa High senior, has the best throw in the state this year in the discus at 160 feet.
The state high school track meet allows people to enjoy the top athletes from all sizes of schools over a two-day period. I’ve always enjoyed talking to not just the area champions but all the athletes from our area schools — Iola, Humboldt, Marmaton Valley, Crest, Uniontown, Yates Center and Southern Coffey County — after they’ve competed at the meet.
The younger athletes vow to be back next year. The seniors are happy they were able to end their career there.
Speaking of the list the Register printed Thursday, there were several incomplete entries — those without first names or relays without runners’ names — that we’d really like to fill in.
If anyone knows who these people are, please drop us a line. Also, if anyone was left off the list please contact us and we’ll make note of it.
The final portion of the 2010 state meet will be televised live on Cox channel 22 beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and concluding with the crowning of team champions.
It is the first live broadcast of the event.
A repeat broadcast will air at 6:30 p.m. on June 5 and 11 and will in-clude additional footage not available during the live telecast.

Related
April 16, 2020
June 5, 2014
May 23, 2014
April 27, 2011