If she was strictly a sprinter, Andover senior Jaylyn Agnew would have already carved out a successful career in the 200-meter dash as a three-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist.
But Agnew has a chance to legitimize herself as one of the best high jumpers in the history of Kansas this season, as she is in pursuit of her fourth straight state championship in Class 5A. Only Chanute’s Cris Hall (1985-88) and Fairfield’s Kristi Rinehart (1993-96) have won four titles in high jump.
So Agnew is giving up the 200 — the event’s preliminaries occur during the high jump competition — in an attempt to preserve her legs and ensure that she closes out a superb career that will end when she graduates and heads to Creighton on a basketball scholarship.
“Once she won three in a row, it was a thought in all of our heads,” Andover coach Mike Lee said. “We knew the 200 probably had to go.”
It wasn’t an easy decision for Agnew, who enjoyed competing on the track. But she’ll still have the adrenaline rush on Andover’s 400-meter relay team, a foursome that Agnew and Lee feel can compete at the state level.
But the focus is primarily on high jump, especially after what Agnew considered a down season as a junior. She failed to clear 5-foot-10 as she did as a freshman and a sophomore, and only cleared 5-8 once due to a lingering hamstring injury.
Agnew put those concerns to rest last Friday at the Augusta Invitational, where she smoothly sailed over the bar at 5-8. She will compete in Valley Center on Friday.
“It definitely felt good and it was reassuring that I can still get that high,” Agnew said. “I think I only got that once last year, so I’m excited to get it this early in the season.”
That recharged her beliefs that she can return to 5-10 with her ultimate goal of wrapping up her fourth and final title and beating the state record of 5-11 at the state meet.
And as far as the 200 goes? Agnew thought she missed it at first, but then she heard the announcement for the 200 competitors to check in at the Augusta meet.
“I was kind of sad about it, but then I heard that and I was like, “Well, I’m glad I don’t have to go to that now,’ ” Agnew said. “I think we’re going to have a good 4x1 team this year, so I think that will kind of substitute for it.”
Lavington sets Cheney record — When Cheney junior Gabby Lavington competes in the Cheney Invitational on May 1, coach Rich Simmons doesn’t know what he is going to do for the shot put competition.
Cheney’s shot put ring stretches 42 feet in length, and the problem is Lavington has improved so much in the offseason that she is consistently clearing that mark in practice. The junior set Cheney’s school record last week at the Pre-State Challenge, a 5-foot personal-record with her best throw of 43 feet, 9 inches.
“We’re going to have to figure out something because she might throw it out and start breaking concrete,” Simmons said. “We might have to have her throw out of the boys’ ring.”
Lavington’s interest was piqued after a promising sophomore campaign that culminated in a fifth-place finish in Class 3A. In last week’s meet, Lavington beat the defending champion, Jena Black of Halstead, by nearly four feet.
Simmons said Lavington’s improvement stems from her dedication in the weight room and a few tweaks in her form. Lavington was actually not satisfied with her 43-9 throw, telling Simmons that she thinks she can hit the 45-foot mark.
“She knows she can throw further and she really wants to pop one of those throws off when they’re actually measuring it,” Simmons said. “She’s really excited for this season and we are looking forward to seeing what she can do.”
Lavington will compete in the Kansas Relays on Saturday.
Little goes big — When it became apparent to Independent senior Anthony Little that he was not going to pursue a football career, he turned his attention to the throwing events in the spring.
Little worked out religiously in the weight room and has become so strong that his coach Eric Swenson thinks he may be a little too obsessed.
“His strength is just amazing,” Swenson said. “He squats well over 500 pounds and his bench press is 330, 340. We’re actually trying to get him to stop thinking about strength and start thinking about technique now.”
Little’s work has propelled him near the top of the title contenders in Class 3A in the shot put. He has already thrown 49-2 at Collegiate on Mar. 31 and 48-3¼ at Marion on Apr. 10.
While his discus throws haven’t quite caught up, Swenson thinks that with a few changes in technique Little can contend in both events.
“He just really loves to compete in the throws and he’s really competitive,” Swenson said. “He’s dedicated to it.”