Eisenhower senior Matt Pile was devastated when his high school basketball career came to an end short of a state championship. Basketball is Pile’s love, so much so that he almost forgot he had a chance to win one in the spring throwing the javelin.
The event is something Pile picked up just for fun last year and it’s taken him all the way to the podium, as his personal-best throw of 199-11 won the Class 5A title Friday at Cessna Stadium. It is the second-best throw in Kansas this season and moves Pile into the top 20 nationally.
“I couldn’t get one in basketball, so I figured I might as well try to get one in something else,” Pile said after his victory.
Pile, who will play college basketball at Nebraska-Omaha, said the personal-best throw was a result of him changing his approach.
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“I added two more steps to my approach,” Pile said. “Instead of going with nine, I changed to 11 and I think that gave me extra momentum that I took with me into the throw.”
Harvey triples his pleasure — Don’t be surprised if you see Federico Harvey hopping in the circle for the shot put or toeing the starting line of the 3200 meters when next track season comes around.
OK, maybe that’s stretching it a bit, but the Campus junior has no problem trying his hand at new things. And if his 6A boys’ triple jump title is any indication, he’s not too bad when he tries them.
Harvey, who picked up the new discipline this year, estimated that the state meet was only his fourth time entering the triple jump in competition. His 46-5 is the second-best mark in Kansas this year.
“It’s amazing,” said Harvey, who also qualified for the 200, 400 and 1600 relay this weekend. “It’s my first time winning anything at state, and being my first year in triple jump, it’s really exciting.”
His coaches wanted to mix a field event into his repertoire this season, and a try at the long jump was the first chance.
Harvey gave that a go, but it didn’t quite click. Adding a hop and a skip to that process certainly did.
“Long jump wasn’t really for me,” he said. “But we tried triple and in my first meet I got a 44(-foot jump), and we knew we could build off of that. I built my speed and eventually my jumps, and it got me here.”
A Swenson family tradition – For the fourth straight year at the state track and field meet, a member of the Swenson family won a state championship.
After watching older sister Keiryn win a pair of javelin titles in 2014 and 2015 and older brother Kameron taking home the 2016 javelin title, Maize senior Konner Swenson joined in on the fun on Friday by winning the 5A shot put with a throw of 56-9.
“They were both there with me and I walked over to them immediately and they were both happy that I got it,” Swenson said. “I guess it’s pretty cool to think how we were all able to get one.”
Swenson came in with the top mark in Kansas this season at 58-41/2, but struggled to hit that distance in his first five throws.
Finally, on his last attempt with the state title already decided, Swenson delivered his best throw of the day.
“This really is a dream come true,” Swenson said. “I struggled for most of the competition and I felt like I wasn’t really getting my form down, but I finally got my hips underneath me and I got one out there and it just went.”
Swenson will also be the favorite to win the 5A discus at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“I’m definitely going for that two piece,” Swenson said. “I want that second one, so I’ll have two, Keiryn will have two, and Kameron will have his one.”
Tyler Palic wins Marion family rivalry – The one thing that eluded Kyle Palic in his standout career at Marion was a state championship.
Well, little brother Tyler now has the bragging rights after the Marion junior won the 3A discus with a throw of 175-11. Palic’s winning toss won by the competition by more than 20 feet, as it came just inches short of his personal-best mark of 178-6, which was the fourth-best mark in Kansas this season.
“It feels great because my older brother actually never won a state championship,” Tyler Palic said smiling after hopping off the podium. “To beat him, that makes this even better.”
Kingman’s Pearce wins 3A 3200 – After claiming the 3A cross country title in the fall, Kingman sophomore Robert Pearce followed it up by winning the 3A title in the 3200 on the track. Pearce set the pace from the first lap, completing a wire-to-wire victory in 9:49.83 to win the race by nearly 16 seconds.
“I knew going in that the target was on my back (after winning cross country),” Pearce said. “And I’m glad of that because it really helped push me.”
Worth noting — Olpe’s Kyler True, who has signed with Oklahoma State, broke the 1A meet record in the 3200 by 13 seconds with his winning time of 9:12.51. The previous record was set in 2014 by Pike Valley’s Caden Callaway in 9:25.97. It was a personal-best time for True and the fastest time in Kansas this season, although it just missed landing on the all-time best list. It was the second straight 3200 title for True, who won the 2A title last season. True will attempt to complete his second straight sweep of the distance races on Saturday in the 800 and 1600.
Ness City’s Levi Armon won his second straight 2A shot put title in record-setting fashion, as his final throw of 59-11/4 broke the 15-year-old meet record set by Plainville’s Trenton Staab. The mark stands as the best throw in Kansas this season, as it became a new personal-best for Armon.