Maize senior Konner Swenson’s winning smile was missing immediately after he captured the Class 5A boys discus title Saturday in the state track meet at Cessna Stadium.
Not that Swenson’s victory – his second in as many days – wasn’t special for him.
“I’m not a morning person,” said Swenson, who threw 174 feet, 3 inches to easily win the competition. “When I saw that this was on the schedule at 8 a.m., I was furious.”
There may have been a little hyperbole in Swenson’s description of his emotion. But as he completed his high school career in the ring on Wichita State’s campus, there was no mistaking his ability. While well off his state-best throw of 198-10 this season, Swenson outdistanced second-place finisher Cade Holmes of Shawnee Heights by almost 22 feet.
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“At times, you’re either just feeling it or you’re not,” said Swenson, whose winning throw came on his third attempt. “I wasn’t really feeling it today. I got underneath one of them, and it only takes one to win it.”
Swenson proved that Friday when he slipped past Newton senior Jackson Forest on his final attempt to win the 5A shot put title with a throw of 56-9. It was his first state title, allowing him to join older brother Kameron and older sister Keiryn as Maize champions.
Both watched as Konner secured his second victory. Keiryn, who plays basketball at Arkansas, was among the first to greet him afterward with a hug.
“It’s like I’m almost back and competing, that’s how excited I am for him,” said Keiryn Swenson, a 5A girls javelin champion in 2013 and 2014. “Especially in the shot put, when he won on that last throw.
“He gave me so much anxiety through that whole thing.”
The sibling connection has been strong for the Swensons, whose father, Eric, is the track coach at Independent. Konner Swenson will join Kameron, last year’s 5A boys javelin champion, this fall at Pittsburg State.
“I’ve really looked forward to seeing stuff on social media about him and sharing it,” Kameron said of Konner. “His sister and I always pushed him. This level is just what we’ve all strived to get to.”
After taking good-natured ribbing from his brother and sister for not having a state title before the meet, Swenson was pleased his performance punctuated a strong senior season.
“I kind of had a reputation to fulfill because my sister had two championships and my brother had one,” Konner Swenson said. “I had to keep that going.”
A title for Heights’ Smallwood – Heights senior Isaac Smallwood came down hard on his right ankle during his third attempt in the 5A triple jump.
Fortunately for Smallwood, he had already recorded the winning jump of 46-0 3/4 .
“It means a lot,” said Smallwood, who defeated Newton’s Landon Moore by almost a foot. “I’m really glad I could get this done in my coach’s (Steve Crosley) last year.”
Crosley, who is retiring, helped Smallwood develop into the state’s top triple jumper. On Saturday, it took him all the way to the top of the medal stand.
“I just trusted the process,” Smallwood said. “I would say I’m a better technical jumper now, and that comes from doing a lot of drills.”
Triple gold for Maize South’s Kossover – Maize South senior Ethan Kossover’s final high school track meet became a successful springboard to what lies ahead at Wichita State.
Kossover, who won the 4A 3200 meters Friday, added titles in the 3,200 relay and 1600 to conclude the two-day meet. The Shocker signee teamed with Dane Wedge, Britte Magnuson and Bryce Merriman to post a time of 7:59.99 in the distance relay, their season best and just behind Mulvane’s 4A meet record of 7:58.53 in 2009.
“Our best of the season was 8:06,” Kossover said of the relay. “We were waiting for our first leg to do his part and get us as close to two (minutes) as he could. … It would have been nice to get the state record, but breaking eight (minutes) is the next best thing.”
Kossover got the best of a three-man battle with Holton’s Mason Strader and Merriman in the 1,600, winning in 4:25.79.
“I was pushed really well the last couple laps,” Kossover said. “Even though I didn’t know the kid who was with me, my main goal was to stay with him. I just pictured with this being my very last race in high school, I wanted to go out with a bang.”
Furious finish for Carroll’s Irwin – With 100 meters to go in the 5A 800, Carroll’s Jason Irwin briefly wondered if Pittsburg’s Connar Southard was out of reach.
“I was just looking at his back and I remember my coach saying, ‘It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be easy,’ ” Irwin said.
As the crowd rose to its feet, Irwin passed the event’s defending champion just before the finish line to win in a personal-best time of 1:55.76. Southard finished second in 1:55.84.
“There was maybe half a second where I lost faith, but I was just laser-focused after that and I caught him,” Irwin said.
One-year wonder – Clearwater senior Collin Ellis made the switch to track and field this spring after three seasons on the baseball team.
The move paid dividends as Ellis captured the 4A javelin title with a throw of 182-4.
Ellis, an all-league catcher for the Indians, edged Andale’s Davon Spexarth by almost three feet. After posting a personal best of 190-11 3/4 earlier this season, Ellis had two throws of more than 180 feet, the latter giving him the title.
“My first attempt, I threw it out and fouled,” Ellis said. “My coaches preached, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ If you do that, you’re not going to perform as well.
“It turned out good in the end.”
Working with his coach, Eric Shipman, Ellis’ expectations were uncertain at best at the start of the season. He surpassed 140 feet in his first meet, and continued to increase his personal best as the season progressed.
“At the beginning, I was just trying to muscle it a lot,” Ellis said. “When you do that, you don’t throw it as far.”
Fifteen feet, finally – Derby’s Kris Wood and Garden City’s Ruben Huerta didn’t hover in record air space in the 6A pole vault. But their competition created a good buzz in the stadium.
Huerta won the competition with fewer misses, but Wood, a senior, got a loud of ovation when he cleared the bar at 15 feet. It was a personal best for Wood, a Washburn signee who spent much of last season battling a hamstring injury.
After Wood went out at 15-6, he encouraged the crowd to make noise for Huerta before his final attempt.
“I got 14-6 in the second meet and I’ve been chasing that mark all year,” Wood said. “To finally get that in this awesome setting, you can’t ask for anything more.”
True-ly special – Olpe senior Kyler True, the state’s top distance runner this season, provided one of the day’s most breathtaking performances in winning the 1A 1600.
After blistering the 1A meet record in the 3200 on Friday with a time of 9:12.51, True, who will compete at Oklahoma State, set the state meet record with a time of 4:07.17. He ran the final lap in 58.96 seconds to win the race by more than 20 seconds.
“The whole last 600, (meet announcer) Don Steffens said bring him home, and that’s really what they did,” True said of the crowd. “That was all about them pushing me to run what I did.
“I didn’t think I had it in me, and then I just found a little bit more every time I heard it get louder.”
True’s time was the third fastest in state history. He also ran the anchor leg on Olpe’s victorious 3,200 relay, then completed his high school career with a victory in the 800.
Other top performers
▪ Buhler sophomore Jordan Hawkins closed strong in the 200 to earn a sprint double in 4A. He won the event in 22.17. Hawkins also edged Mulvane’s Jayden Price in the 100 with a time of 10.67, just .01 off the 4A meet record set by Trinity Academy’s Morgan Burns.
▪ Halstead’s 3,200 relay team of seniors Cory Hiebert and Patrick Porch, and sophomores Josh Talbott and Braden Gerber dominated the 3A race. The Dragons’ time of 8:16.88 was almost eight seconds ahead of second-place Hugoton.
▪ Remington’s Garet Johnson earned the 3A shot put title with a throw of 53-4¼. All six of the senior’s throws in the finals were 52-5½ or better.
▪ Derby junior Adrian Brown held off Manhattan’s KO Saito to win the 300 hurdles in a time of 38.59, almost a second better than his personal best.