Competing for a state championship in three throwing events never seemed possible to Valley Center’s Taylor Latimer.
Latimer has never specialized in any one particular event. She was naturally good at all three year, but state-title good? Not in her dreams.
But that is the reality for Latimer’s senior year at the state track and field meet. She won her first event on Friday, winning her second straight title in the Class 5A shot put with a winning throw of 142 feet, 6 inches.
“I would have never thought I would have the chance to get all three senior year, I’ll keep it real with you,” Latimer said. “This was the goal for discus, but we’ll see about shot and javelin is a toss-up right now. It would be great if we get all three, but we’ll see.”
Latimer is a rarity in that she excels in the shot put, discus, and javelin, as she can boast one of the most complete throwing resumes in the state. Her well-roundedness attracted her to Kansas State, where she will compete in college.
The discus was the event Latimer was the heavy favorite and it played out that way on Friday. Latimer could have won the title with three of her throws, as her winning toss of 142-6 was 17 feet further than Emporia’s Mikayla Simons in second place.
“It’s always nice when you’re supposed to win it and you come out and take care of business like Taylor did,” Valley Center coach Troy Emig said.
Even though she was a defending champion, Latimer said she felt more pressure last season when she was going up against a state champion in Newton’s Payton Roberts.
“With Payton Roberts gone, that was a big confidence boost for me because she was always so tough,” Latimer said. “I knew I could win if I came out here and handled my business and got a good throw out there.”
Latimer competed in the javelin competition late Friday night, while she will try for the shot put title at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Kossover and Moen win 3200s — Maize South’s Ethan Kossover and Andover’s Alex Moen spent their careers running against one another.
And now they both will exit as state champions.
Kossover won the 4A title in the 3200 in 9:34.57, then Moen followed by winning the 5A title in 9:32.18.
It was a sweet ending for Kossover, who missed last year’s state meet due to injury.
“I’ve always known my capabilities and I wasn’t able to give everything I had last year,” Kossover said. “I have a new coach this year and a new training program, so I knew I was capable of this. I wanted to do it for my coach, for my family and for (the late coach Alan) Birdsell.”
While Kossover held a lead for the last five laps of his race, Moen had to get creative after blowing his energy on a 63-second opening lap.
Moen had to try to recover and let Great Bend’s Kerby Depenbusch take over the lead, as he took a sizable lead over Moen to start the last lap. But when the final 100 came, it was Moen’s time to shine.
“I was talking to myself the whole last lap, saying ‘This is my race,’” Moen said. “I have the fastest time. I’ve beat every guy in this race. This is my race and no one is going to take it away from me, even if I run it poorly.”
Moen executed another thrilling comeback with his kick to edge Depenbusch at the finish line.
Same wins another shot put title — After she felt like she “choked” at last year’s state meet, East senior Astrid Same returned to top the podium in the 6A shot put.
Same won the competition on Friday with a throw of 44-5. It wasn’t her personal-best, but it was good enough to win her second title after she was a surprising winner as a sophomore in 2015.
This time it was no surprise.
“I really was focused on throwing well today because I wanted to end my high school career on the right note,” Same said. “I wanted to secure my place because I’ve been throwing so well all season, so I wanted to finish it off.”
Fastest girls 400 relay becomes even faster – The Newton 400 relay team of Kalli Anderson, Taylor Antonowich, Jen Andres, and Savannah Simmons already carved their names in the Kansas history books this season by running the fastest time in Kansas history at 46.98.
It’s time for a record-book update.
Anderson, Antonowich, Andres, and Simmons lowered their own record time on Friday in the Class 5A preliminaries, qualifying in a time of 46.86 – a full two seconds ahead of the field. They broke the meet record they set last season when they won the 5A title.
“It felt amazing to have the crowd cheering me on like that down the homestretch,” said Simmons, the anchor. “All four of us are really great friends and we love running together, so this is great to be able to make history together.”
The goal for Saturday’s finals?
“We’re coming back for more,” Simmons said. “We can go even faster.”
Mosley gets in the record books – After shutting it down before the finish line to conserve energy in the 400 preliminaries, Southeast junior Christal Mosley let loose in the 200 preliminaries and came through with a meet-record time of 24.20.
The time was the fifth-fastest time in Kansas history. Mosley will look for the 6A titles in the 400 on Saturday around 3:45 p.m. and in the 200 around 5:50 p.m.
Buller overcomes injury to win second 5A pole vault title – An injury hampered Goddard junior Hannah Buller so much this season that at one point she didn’t even think she would make it back to the state meet to defend her 5A pole vault title.
But Buller overcame the injury and won the 5A title again, clearing 12-0 to edge Kapaun Mt. Carmel’s Alyssa Wheeler , who finished with a clearance of 11-0 to take second.
“This was so worth it,” Buller said. “To get back here again when I didn’t even think I would make it, and then to win…it’s just been really surreal honestly.”
On the 12-foot clearance, Buller said she trusted her coach to make the necessary adjustments.
“He told me to get more out of the back, which means to run harder from the beginning,” Buller said. “I was reaching at the end because I was tired. So I just listened to him and I made it and I won.”
Trinity’s Megan Elliott wins 4A high jump – Trinity junior Megan Elliott claims she didn’t do any specialized training or any additional work in the weight room before this season.
She has another explanation for how she became one of the best high jumpers in Kansas, which was punctuated by winning the 4A title with a clearance of 5-6.
“Honestly, it’s all been God,” Elliott said. “It really has been such a faith-driven thing. Just knowing He’s got it and I’m just taking what he gives me and working with it.”
Elliott had cleared 5-4 last season, but has tacked on four inches to her personal-best this season and finished the day as just one of three high jumpers to have cleared 5-8 this season.
“This was just amazing,” Elliott said. “It’s been so much fun and today was really rewarding for all that hard work I’ve put in.”
Worth noting — Dighton senior Jordan Speer, a Missouri signee, broke the 13-year-old 1A meet record in the shot put with a mark of 45-8¾ to win her third straight 1A title in the event. The previous record was held by Moscow’s Brandi Broaddus at 45-0¼, which was set in 2014. Speer’s personal-best throw of 46-9½ ranks No. 13 all-time and is the best throw in Kansas this season.
Valley Heights junior Skyler Saunders won her second straight 2A high jump title, this time breaking the 21-year-old meet record with her winning clearance of 5-8½. The previous record was held by Fairfield’s Kris Rinehart at 5-8¼, set in 1996. Saunders’ personal-best mark was the second-best high jump in Kansas this season.
Beloit’s Kourtny Hubert, a Wichita State signee, completed her career with four state championships in the javelin by winning the 3A title. Hubert’s final throw of 147-10 ended up being her best, coming up three inches short of the meet record. Hubert’s personal-best mark this season was 148-0, which was the second-best throw in Kansas. Hubert won her first two titles in 1A at Clifton-Clyde, where she owns the 1A meet record, while she finished by winning the last two 3A titles at Beloit.
Centralia sophomore Madison Lueger broke the 1A meet record in the javelin with her first throw of the day serving as her winning mark of 142-4. The throw was actually two feet of Lueger’s personal-best throw of 144-7 this season, which was the fifth-best mark in Kansas this season.