Don Funke has a distinct advantage in being both the middle school and high school track and field coach at Collegiate, as he is privy to what kind of talent will be passing through his program.
He has been coaching for a many years and Funke says he has never been as excited as he has been for the debut of freshman Jewell Bolden, a rare athlete who specializes in track alone.
“I’ve watched her for the last three years and I’ve been counting down the days to when she came up to the high school team,” Funke said.
Bolden has been running competitively for nearly a decade. She travels across the country attending camps to improve her form. Funke said she has been in the weight room for two years, working to gain a competitive advantage.
Never miss a local story.
She will compete Friday at the Pre-State Challenge, hosted by Wichita State, and Funke is positive it will be a launching point to her success this season.
At Collegiate’s opening meet, which had just four teams, Bolden won the long jump (17 feet, 2½ inches) with a jump a foot under her personal-best, and ran fast enough to just win her races in the 100-meter dash (13.12 seconds) and 200 (27.89).
She will also run the 100 hurdles at WSU.
“She’s one of those talents that only comes around every so often,” Funke said. “She hasn’t even reached her potential yet. Track is her passion and this is what she wants to be good at. She puts in the time and the effort to be great. She’s going to be special.”
Four for four — South coach Cody Dickman is not shy when talking about what he expects from junior Kaden Griffin.
“There’s no doubt in mind he should qualify for state in four events,” Dickman said. He’s just an exceptional athlete. Honestly, if he doesn’t qualify in four events I would be shocked. I can’t even fathom it, quite honestly.”
Griffin qualified in two of his individual events last season, taking fourth in the 300 hurdles and sixth in the triple jump.
He will look to return to Cessna Stadium this season, adding two more individual events — the long jump and 110 hurdles — to his repertoire.
If his season-opening marks at the Southeast Invitational (15.60 in 100 hurdles, 40.50 in 300 hurdles, 21-5½ in long jump, and 42-3¾ in triple jump) are any indication, Griffin is well on his way.
“He’s so good at all four events, it’s hard to pick his best,” Dickman said. “It’s like picking which child you like best. You can’t really say. He’s just really, really good.”
Griffin will compete in the elite heats in all four of those events at the Pre-State Challenge.
Derby twins — The Panthers have had an excellent javelin thrower in Kavan Mark, now a senior, but it has been only him near the top of meets.
Now he has company.
Sophomore Trenton Allen turned heads with his season-opening throw of 180-2 to win the Winfield Invitational last Friday. Mark finished runner-up at 166-10.
Both competed in the Pre-State Challenge on Thursday evening.
“They feed off each other in practice,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “A lot of times during practice their javelins are about a foot apart from each other. Those guys push each other and they root for each other, so it works out well.”