Sense of pride — These girls noticed when their counterparts from up north were dominating distance races in cross country and on the track.
Now the Wichita area can claim dominance, as a bevy of talented runners have matured into state champions.
In succession Friday evening, El Dorado senior Molly Milbourn won the Class 4A 3200-meter race, Valley Center sophomore Morgan Wedekind won the 5A race and North junior Amber Eichkorn took home the 6A crown.
"In the past it seemed like all the schools up north were always winning it," Eichkorn said. "Now it's our schools down here that are coming up. It's really good knowing that we're not off the map."
Eichkorn hammered the competition by posting a time of 11 minutes, 18.13 seconds — 14 seconds faster than second place.
"This was a huge confidence-booster for me," Eichkorn said. "I know I can win now. Plus, the rest of my races (800 and 1600) are shorter."
Milbourn will also be seeking wins in the 800 and 1600 today. But first, the senior had to take care of business on Friday night. Milbourn didn't pull away until the last lap, finishing in 11:09.49.
"I knew that last lap was it," Milbourn said. "That was going to be the difference. I knew if I didn't give everything I had left, I would regret it tomorrow."
Wedekind didn't want to repeat her performance from last season — no better placing than third.
"I was pretty bummed about that last year," Wedekind said. "I was really excited to win. I just feel a lot better now. It still hasn't sunk in yet, though."
Redemption special _ Both Garden Plain's Page Stuhlsatz and Bishop Carroll's Cara Detmer felt the pressure of being pole vault favorites in their respective classes, but each had different expectations.
Stuhlsatz tweaked her takeoff hamstring last week at regionals, so it was survive-and-advance mode for her. She did enough to win the 3A pole vault by clearing 10-6.
It was far from her best, but the senior didn't mind.
"I didn't vault until Wednesday this week," said Stuhlsatz, who also won the state title as a sophomore. "It actually kind of messed with me the first day. But I just had to do it. If it hurt, it hurt. Whatever. I needed to do it."
After clearing 12-6, the state's third-best mark all-time, Detmer had grander plans. She didn't reach her goal, but still won her first state title with a vault of 12-0 in 5A.
"I've been waiting for this for the past three years and I finally got it," Detmer said. "I know I can jump higher, but I'm happy I got first. I've been wanting to win so bad."
Each suffered devastating second-place finishes last season. They both left happy on Friday.
"The pressure is off now," Stuhlsatz said.
Team Wedekind-Balch _ Forming super-groups is a popular trend right now, so Valley Center's Morgan Wedekind and Bishop Carroll's Kaelyn Balch thought they'd jump in.
Of course, they're not technically a team. But if the duo can finish the race first and second, regardless of who wins, it is considered a success.
"It's kind of gotten to the point where we do view ourselves as kind of a team," Wedekind said. "We don't really let running affect our friendship. I mean we still have sleepovers and stuff like everyone else."
Wedekind and Balch finished first and second in the 5A 3200 race on Friday night. It marked the first track championship for Wedekind, a two-time cross country champion.
"It's really easy to be excited for Morgan," Balch said. "She's such a good friend."
Not according to plan _ Medicine Lodge's Shanise Rice won the Class 3A high jump as a freshman in 2008 by clearing 5-foot-4. The senior wanted to bookend her career with another state title in impressive fashion.
While Rice didn't pass her self-imposed looks test, she did complete her goal by becoming a two-time state champion with a jump of 5-2. Four others cleared 5-2, but Rice won on attempts.
"I don't know, I probably just psyched myself out," Rice said. "I wasn't too happy about the jump, but I guess a win's a win."
Rice glided easily over 5-2 on her first attempt, but became frustrated when she couldn't stop clipping the bar at 5-4. But no one else could either, as Rice knew she had the win in her head.
"I kind of keep track in my head of the other girls' misses," Rice said. "I knew I had the lead after 5-2. I expecting a better jump, but it was pretty nice to win."
Great success — East's Haleigh Lewis said she hasn't regretted a minute of trying to finish out her senior season. After being struck in the face with a stray discus at the City League meet two weeks ago, Lewis qualified for three events and has recovered remarkably fast.
Her recovery became even faster on Friday, as she threw 129-9 in the javelin to place second in the field. The personal-best throw broke the City League record as well.
"I already got a better medal than I did last year," Lewis said. "I smiled for the camera the best I could. If they didn't think it was good enough, oh well."
Nerves are great _ There is always a nervous twinge for Haven's Katie Ostlund when she's about to throw her first attempt in the javelin. That might be when she's at her best, though.
Ostlund won the 4A javelin competition with her first throw of 125-7, which edged Cheney freshman Carlea Holt's throw by just over two feet.
"That's usually when I'm the most nervous," Ostlund said. "I guess I do better when I'm nervous, though.
"It was kind of overwhelming. I didn't think I was going to win, but I really wanted to. It was nerve-wracking, though."
Keep getting better _ Madison's Nicole Farthing won the 1A discus title with a season-best throw of 126-3. Farthing entered the competition with the best mark in the field and bettered it, tossing two throws that would have won it.