From JV to state champ
During Nick Giusti’s junior season, he was a junior varsity sprinter.
On Saturday at the state track and field meet, Giusti, a Carroll senior, celebrated winning the Class 5A 110 hurdles in 14.62 seconds.
“I made myself a state champion,” Giusti said. “It’s unreal. One thing I’d like to say to any JV kids out there, just never give up. That’s what I did. That’s what you’ve got to do. Just keep working, Just keep working, just dream, just believe in yourself. You can accomplish whatever you think you can.
“A year ago I was still running JV races. I still thought I was a sprinter. Coach (Cory) Swords saw the talent in me. He was right.”
Giusti remembered little about the race once he stepped off the track, although he noted he set a personal best in Friday’s prelims and in the final.
“I was zoned in from the minute I got in the blocks,” he said. “I just knew what I had to do, knew what I needed to do, and I did it. I remember coming over the eighth hurdle, peeking around me, didn’t see anybody there and I was just like, ‘hold on, finish the race, finish the race.’”
Giusti helped Carroll win the team title with 85 points.
Birch a first-time champ
Andover Central sophomore Jordan Birch finished fifth in his 110 hurdles race in 2013 and failed to advance to the state meet.
“My parents pushed me to keep going and not give up just because one year didn’t go very well,” he said.
Birch is glad he stayed with it as he won the Class 4A 110 hurdles in 15.09.
Burns’ own mark
Trinity Academy junior Tyler Burns hasn’t exactly lived in the shadow of his brother, Morgan, a standout track athlete who owns the 4A 100 meter record.
But Burns definitely burst into the spotlight when he won the 4A 100 meters in 11.04 and the long jump in 21 feet, 11 3/4 inches. He was second in the 200, finishing in 22.32.
“This is awesome,” Burns said after winning the long jump. “It’s a great feeling. All the hard work paid off.”
As for his brother, Burns laughed.
“I just always wanted to do as good as Morgan or at least win state. It’s a good feeling,” he said. “I can say I have long jump and he doesn’t.”
From baseball to track
Medicine Lodge senior Scott Beecher spent the past three seasons playing baseball for the Indians. He initially stayed with the sport because his brother loved baseball and wanted to win a title. They did in 2012, winning the 2-1A title.
But after a lackluster year as a junior, Beecher eyed track as a welcome change.
He won the 100 meters in 11.52 and the 200 in 22.97, and was second in the 400 in 49.51. He finished fourth in the triple jump at 41-1 1/4.
“This is my first year of track, and I’ve come to the state track every year and loved it,” Beecher said. “This is my first year of actually doing it, and it just feels so good to finally win. I wasn’t expecting it, but I knew if I came out and worked hard, I would.”
Sanchez intent on win
After Carroll’s Ricky Sanchez had a personal record javelin throw by 18 feet at the 2013 regionals and barely missed the 5A finals, he started training to win a title.
Sanchez, now a senior, reached out to East’s throws coach Brian Byers, whose son, Matt, was outstanding in the javelin at Iowa. Sanchez spent two weeks in Arizona training, learned to throw the javelin instead of muscling it.
He won his first title Saturday, throwing 191 feet, 2 inches to win the 5A title.
“I’ve been training literally since the last state championships to come here and do well,” said Sanchez, who plans to walk on at Baylor. “ It paid off. All the hard work, the hours and hours, whether lifting, running, bounding and throwing, all put together made the dream work.”
Shurtz’s title is priceless
Northwest senior Mitchell Shurtz had figured out his race strategy with his dad before the Class 6A 800 meters.
“I wanted to be within 10 meters of the lead with 200 to go so I could outkick the leaders,” Shurtz said. “I was right next to (Dodge City’s Oscar) Carmona, an awesome runner. It came down to the last sprint, and I barely got him.”
Shurtz won in 1:55.23, while Carmona finished second in 1:55.43.
Shurtz initially was a two-miler, but as he grew, he got faster.
“I worked harder, moved down (in distance), got comfortable with the speed, and now I’m an 800 and 400. It is mind-blowing. It shows that if you put your mind to something, anything can happen,” he said.
Schadler’s huge senior year
Hesston senior Ryan Schadler won the Class 3A 400 in 49.36 and won the long jump at 22-7 1/4, finishing his senior season with yet another big moment.
Schadler was an All-Metro selection at running back and helped lead Hesston to a 3A basketball title and an unbeaten season.
Schadler also finished third in the 100 (11.47) and second in the 200 (22.75).
“It’s been a great year with football, basketball and track,” said Schadler, who has signed to run at Wichita State. “It’s something I’ve been shooting for since I was a little kid.”
Williams a healthy champ
Collegiate junior Jacques Williams returned to track as a sophomore but battled shin splints and didn’t run in regionals.
Healthy as a junior, Williams won the 3A 100 meters in 11.11.
“It’s just really exciting, knowing that I probably could have been here last year, too, and actually coming out and doing it,” Williams said.
Reversal of fortune
After losing to teammate Riley Osen in the 4A 3200 meters on Friday, Winfield senior Josh Hanna edged Osen to win the 1600. Hanna finished in 4:24.29, while Osen finished in 4:25.28.
I just knew we needed to go 1-2 just like yesterday,” Osen said. “Josh has beat me every race except one.”
The duo had an advantage when they broke away from the pack.
“It definitely helps when you’re making a move,” Hanna said. “It helps for two people to make the move; it psyches out the other runners more.”
Berean dominates hurdles
Berean Academy’s Gabe Holmes and David Ladwig finished first and second in the 2A 110 hurdles, finishing in 15.42 and 15.43.
Ladwig won the 300 hurdles in 40.84.
Holmes had a poor preliminaries race, so he had to come out of Lane 8.
“Coach was talking, ‘just kind of brush it off, just forget about it.’ It wasn’t a good race yesterday, so I just came out and just ran,” Holmes said. “Instincts took over.”
The goal all season was to go 1-2 in the 110 hurdles, Ladwig said, and after he won the 300, he said he wished Holmes had been there.
“He came down and warmed up with me the whole time,” Ladwig said. “It’s really good to have someone to encourage you.”
The duo helped Berean win the 2A title with 54 points.
Page wins 300 hurdles
Hutchinson senior Jared Page has consistently struggled with the sixth hurdle in the 300. But he battled through and came out with his first title, winning the 6A 300 hurdles in 38.52.
“I had a bad hurdle, hurdle 6,” Page said. “That hurdle and I, we’re just not the best of friends. Yesterday I about went down over it.”
To get the win, “I hurdled hard and fast,” Page said.
Andale repeated as Class 4A team champs, finishing with 69 points.
The 400 relay team got the only win on Saturday, winning in 43.37 seconds with Hank Eck, Hunter Knoblauch, Hayden Bugner and Jared Smarsh.
Top 11 treatment
Olathe South senior Braden Smith, a two-time Top 11 selection, moved down to Auburn on May 24 to start workouts with the football team. Auburn flew him up in time to compete at the state track meet, where he defended his Class 6A titles in the discus (186-11) and the shot put (59-8).
“I’m especially exited to start something new and to be a part of a great program,” Smith said of Auburn.
Arkansas considers one meet
Nick Lasker, assistant executive director of the Arkansas Activities Association, spent Friday and Saturday in Wichita to see how the Kansas State High School Activities Association runs the country’s largest two-day meet.
Arkansas currently runs seven state track meets.
“It’s very impressive,” Lasker said. “ What I really love is the excitement that it brings to track and field for these athletes. I want to promote the sport, and so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to try to go back and collectively work to do this. The challenge I see is the number of volunteers it takes to make this work.”
Northwest's Deron Thompson
Heights girls 400 relay
Andale boys 400 relay
Carroll's Ricky Sanchez
Maize South's Kassidy Johnson
Winfield's Josh Hanna, Riley Osen
Northwest's Mitchell Shurtz
Hutchinson's Jared Page
Hesston's Ryan Schadler
Collegiate's Jacque Williams
Trinity Academy's Tyler Burns
Medicine Lodge's Scott Beecher
Cheney's Taylor Needham
Inman's Krystal Miller
Caldwell's Tyann Isaacs
3200 relay pep talk
Carroll senior Nick Giusti, 5A 110 hurdles champ
Collegiate freshman Jewell Bolden, 3A 100 hurdles champ
Circle senior Talia Highbarger, 4A 100 hurdles champ
Berean Academy senior Gabe Holmes, 2A 110 hurdles champ
Andover Central sophomore Jordan Birch, 4A 110 hurdles champ