Coming into her junior track and field season, Maize’s Keiryn Swenson had some memories she wanted to erase.
The first location was in Lawrence, where Swenson felt she had under-performed in her first two appearances at the prestigious Kansas Relays.
It’s safe to say those memories are buried after Swenson won the meet with a personal-best javelin throw of 155 feet, 2 inches last weekend. Five of her six throws would have been ranked No. 1 in Kansas, and the mark puts her fifth in the nation.
“To win KU Relays, that’s been a goal I’ve been waiting on for forever now,” Swenson said. “Now the next thing on my list is state.”
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That remains the final thing for Swenson to accomplish in her high school career, as a state title eluded her by three inches her freshman season and by four last year.
The wait to replace those memories will be agonizingly slow for Swenson, especially coming off a meet where she set a personal-best four times. She will compete in the Campus Invitational on Friday.
“It kind of puts me in shock and it’s hard to believe, but at the same time it gets me pretty pumped up,” Swenson said. “I want to throw even further now.”
A grisly regional – With her winning time of 5 minutes, 31.45 seconds in the 1600 meters last week at the Heights Invitational, Northwest freshman Gabriela Reyna became the school’s leader in the event.
Reyna is also on the cusp of breaking the school record in the 3200, where her season-best time stands at 11:55.99 entering Friday’s meet at Campus.
But Northwest coach Ron Russell knows what is coming. Garden City, with three runners who already have eclipsed 5:30, and Maize, with returning state qualifier Kassidy Watkins, will be vying for the same four spots at the Class 6A regional as Northwest.
“She’s running these great times and is the best the school has ever seen,” Russell said of Reyna, “yet she’s going to have to have a great race just to make it through regionals.”
Northwest will experiment with Reyna’s endurance Friday at Campus, where she will find out if she’s capable of running the 1600 and 3200 in the same night. Depending on the results, Russell will determine which is the best route to send Reyna through to the state meet.
“There are so many good kids at our regionals that we may only run her in the 2-mile,” Russell said. “We’ll see if she’s strong enough to run both of them in the same night (this Friday). If she can still run a sub-12-minute mile and be sub-5:30 in the mile, we’ll probably try it out.”
Throwing dynasty — There isn’t a program around the area that can match what Newton’s throwers have been able to accomplish over the last decade.
The Railers have had a state placer, on the boys or girls team, in either the shot put, discus, or javelin for 12 straight years. It’s a streak likely to continue this season, as sophomore Payton Roberts owns the state’s top mark in the shot put (46-4) and senior Cory Martens is one of the top throwers in Class 5A.
“All that has to do with coach (Pete) Anderson,” Martens said. “He has put in so many hours and has gone to so many coaching clinics. He brought in an Olympian to talk to us and help coach us. I feel like he’s helped us all out quite a lot.”
Since 2002, Newton has had 39 state placers in the three throwing events and seven state champions. Roberts is established as the favorite for the state title in the discus and shot put, while Martens will be a contender in both of those events on the boys side.
Throwers credit the work of Anderson, who has been Newton’s throwing coach since 2010.
“Before my meet last week, he gave me this book to read called ‘The Mind Gym,’ ” Martens said. “It was kind of a psychological book about sports that really helped me. I went into the ring really relaxed and calm and I threw my best. He’s a big help to us.”