1. Philip Landrum, South senior
After transformative junior season at South, can Landrum cap it off with gold medals in the 100 and 200 in Class 6A?
It’s hard to argue anyone but Landrum will be the favorite in either race. The 100 final is at 1:05 p.m. Saturday with the 200 final at 6:10.
Landrum enters with the state’s fastest time in both the 100 (10.55) and the 200 (21.64). He is undefeated in the 200 and has lost once, to Newton’s Kade Remsberg, in the 100.
But the 6A field will surely produce a challenger in both races.
Southeast sophomore Ollie McGee was an unknown at the beginning of this season, but burst onto the scene and might be Landrum’s primary challenger. He pushed Landrum to the brink in both races at City League, finishing a hundredth of a second behind Landrum in the 100 (10.76 to 10.77) and three-hundredths of a second behind him in the 200 (21.94 to 21.97).
Topeka’s duo of Jai’Mein Berry (10.81) and Richard Newman (10.64) both seem capable in the 100. Berry is the top returner from last year’s field and was the regional champion in Lawrence. Gardner-Edgerton senior Matt Summerlin (10.71) is another regional champion who might be primed for a big race in the 100.
In the 200, Landrum and McGee are the only two sprinters who have significantly gone below 22 seconds. But Blue Valley North junior Laron Calloway (21.97) is a regional champion who has cracked the 22-second barrier and is the top returning finisher in 6A after taking third last spring.
Landrum has consistently logged the fastest times, won the big-time races, and established himself as the favorite this weekend. Now is his chance to solidify his case as the fastest man in Kansas.
2. Konner Swenson, Maize senior
Much is at stake for Swenson this weekend to uphold the family tradition.
Konner tries to become the third Swenson sibling to win a 5A title and in a fourth consecutive year. Kameron Swenson won the 5A boys javelin last spring, while older sister Keiryn won the 5A girls javelin in 2014 and 2013.
Konner Swenson is in good shape: he owns the top marks in Kansas this season in both the shot put (58-4 ½) and discus (198-10). His first shot at the title will come Friday at 4:45 p.m. in the shot put. Swenson has held steady as the No. 1 mark in the state this season, but he will have competition pushing right behind him in Newton’s Jackson Forest (56-0½), Shawnee Heights’ Cade Holmes (53-3½), and De Soto’s Zach Titus (53-7).
He is an even bigger favorite to win in the discus, as his personal-best toss of 198-10 stands as the No. 10 best mark in Kansas history and is seven feet further than the 5A meet record. He has consistently surpassed 170 feet in meets this season, which is nearly 10 feet further than the No. 2 competitor’s season-best mark. Swenson will compete in the 5A finals in discus on Saturday at 8 a.m.
While Keiryn won two state titles in the javelin, Konner could become the first Swenson to win two titles in the same year.
3. Kade Remsberg, Newton senior
This has been the Kade Comeback Tour this season, as Remsberg is finally 100-percent healthy after recovering from a lingering hamstring injury that wiped out his junior year. After sweeping the 5A titles in the 100 and 200 in 2015, Remsberg was unable to run at the state meet last year.
He’s back again for one last state meet before heading off for the Air Force Academy for a football scholarship. Remsberg owns the fastest times in 5A in both the 100 (10.64) and the 200 (21.69), as his only losses in races have come to 6A sprinters.
Remsberg will presumably qualify for Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. final in the 100 and 6:10 final in the 200.
Leavenworth senior Clifford Robinson will be the most established threat to Remsberg’s twin title chase, as he has earned a medal in both the 100 and 200 races the last two seasons. He won both races at regionals and enters with a similar time in the 100 (10.67 to Remsberg’s 10.64) and with the second-fastest time in the 200 (22.00).
But Valley Center senior Keyon Saunders emerged at the regional meet as another legitimate contender after taking home the victory in the 100 (10.80) and in the 200 (22.05) with season-best times. Although he doesn’t have the prior state success of Remsberg and Robinson, Saunders is peaking at the right time and could be a factor in both races.
4. Alex Moen, Andover senior
Moen qualified for the trifecta of distance racing – the 800, 1600, and 3200 – but he figures to have the best shot at chasing a title in the 1600 and 3200 races in Class 5A. Moen finished fifth and third in the 5A races last season, but has been running the best times of his career entering this year’s state meet.
Moen has the second-fastest 1600 time in the field at 4:22.71, as this year’s pace will likely produce the fastest time since the meet record was set at 4:15.43 by Carroll’s David Thor in 2012. Aquinas senior Alex Gill (4:19.76) enters with the fastest time this season, while teammate Will Cole (4:26.98) took third last season. But it’s actually Shawnee Heights junior Hunter Henderson (4:28.50) who is the defending champion. The 5A title (2:05 p.m. Saturday) is likely to come down to how well Moen can duel with the Aquinas duo and Henderson on the final lap.
In the 3200, Moen has logged the second-fastest race in Kansas (9:25.07) this season and is 15 seconds faster than anyone else in the field. But the Eastern Kansas League is always reliable to produce a push and all four of its qualifiers look to be contenders in Aquinas duo Will Cole and Ethan Marshall, BV Southwest’s Dylan Miller, and Mill Valley’s Jakob Coacher, who all ran between 9:40 and 9:43 at regionals. Cole is the defending champion in the event, so it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s him and Moen duking it out on the final lap on the 8-lap race. The 5A 3200 race is Friday night around 7:20 p.m.
5. Isaac Smallwood, Heights senior
The Heights senior has been the king of the triple jump in Kansas, consistently owning the No. 1 mark in the state and pushing it out to 47 feet with his title-winning jump at regionals.
No one has been as consistently good as Smallwood and his season-best mark is nearly 19 inches better than anyone else. But Newton senior Landon Moore (45-5¼) is consistently going over 45 feet and could push Smallwood in the 3 p.m. Saturday final.
Smallwood placed third in 5A last year at the state meet, while Moore is the next-highest returning placer in fifth.
6. Ethan Kossover, Maize South senior
Finally healthy during track season, Kossover is looking to make his final state track meet count before heading to Wichita State for his college career.
Kossover has the fastest time in the 1600 (4:23.68) and was expected to have a thrilling duel with Spring Hill’s Dylan Brenneman (4:24.14), but a late-season injury to Brenneman has thrown in doubt whether the Spring Hill senior will have enough to push Kossover at 2:05 p.m. Saturday.
The Kossover-Brenneman duel in the 3200 won’t happen, as Brenneman, the defending champion, scratched from the race at the regional meet. That leaves Kossover (9:38.00) and Topeka Hayden’s Robbie Schmidt (9:35.03) as the top contenders for the 4A title.
Kossover will also be on the Maize South 3200 relay team that will chase the 4A meet record of 7:58.83 around 11:40 a.m. on Saturday. Kossover will be joined by Dane Wedge, Britte Magnuson, and Bryce Merriman on the relay, which has logged a season-best time of 8:06.07 for the top time in the 4A field.
7. Adrian Brown, Derby junior
The Derby junior has quietly jumped in the 6A ranks in the 300 hurdles, owning the top time in the field at 39.44 seconds. The final is at 4:45 p.m. Saturday.
Brown was a finalist last season, taking seventh. But he’s cracked 40 seconds in his last three races, which is a sign he’s ready to contend for the title.
The top challengers figure to be Olathe South junior Emmanuel Okwuone, who finished third in 6A last season and has logged a 39.64 already. Manhattan’s Ko Saito (39.53) is the only other entrant who has broken 40, and Brown edged Saito by more than six-tenths at regionals.
It’s never wise to count out Hutchinson senior Martavius Johnson, especially after he clipped a hurdle in his 110 race at regionals and failed to qualify. Johnson won the 6A title in the event last season and placed in the top four in the two state meets before that. While Johnson’s specialty may rest in the 110s, he is sure to have some redemption in mind with the 300 hurdles being his only open race.
8. Matt Pile, Eisenhower senior
The 6-foot-8 senior is better known for his dunks on the basketball court, but Pile is establishing a reputation as one of the best javelin throwers in the state.
Pile launched a throw of 195 feet, 8 3/4 inches to win his league meet, which is the 27th-best mark in the country this season. Pile finished sixth at the 5A meet last season, but enters this season with the top mark.
But the title is far from a foregone conclusion. The 5A field features four other throwers who have surpassed the 190-foot mark and will challenge Pile in Salina South’s duo of Payton Webb (195-8) and Evan Irish (191-7), Bishop Carroll’s Anthony Gallardo (193-6¾), and Arkansas City’s Taran Taylor (190-0).
9. Corey Minks, Maize South sophomore
No one in the 4A field has broken 50 seconds in the 400, but Mink is the closest after winning his regional meet in 50.09 last week. Minks has owned the top time in 4A for much of this season and appears to be the frontrunner for the 4:05 p.m. final Saturday.
Minks will once again be challenged by regional competitors: Rose Hill’s J.J. Carney (50.27), Collegiate’s Tristan Guerra (50.47) and Trinity’s John Unruh (50.50). Regional champions Chris Williams (50.90) of Louisburg and Bryan Garcia (51.05) of Ulysses should be factors.
10. Josh Carter, Northwest sophomore
The sophomore is not only a wonder in the weight room (Carter weighs 205 pounds, but owns the Northwest school record with a 590-pound squat), but a force in the shot put. Carter held the top mark in 6A with his 52-8 throw for most of the season until SM Northwest’s Travis Morrison threw a 52-11 1/2 mark at regionals.
But Carter has been the most consistent in 6A this season in the event and he figures to be in the title mix after finishing fourth in 6A last season. The 6A shot put is at 1:15 p.m. Friday.