Lavington wins title in record-setting fashion
Gabby Lavington had just won the 3A championship in the shot put and broken the meet record in the process, yet the Cheney junior didn’t feel like celebrating.
Although her winning throw of 45-10¼ surpassed the previous mark of 45-6¾ set by Northern Heights’ Jacquelyne Leffler in 2007, Lavington hadn’t cleared 47 feet like she wanted.
“It’s nice to win,” Lavington said, “but honestly, I would rather PR. It’s pretty disappointing.”
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But Lavington was able to appreciate her place in history, acknowledging all of the work that it took to reach this point. If anything, it has inspired Lavington, who owns the No. 1 throw in Kansas this season at 46-11¾, to work even harder to defend her title.
Five of Lavington’s six throws would have won the title over defending champion Jena Black of Halstead, runner-up at 41-7.
“It doesn’t quite feel real yet,” Lavington said. “It’s kind of crazy. There’s so many great athletes here and you just never know if you’re going to win or not.”
Bolden wins title No. 1
When you have your eye on four titles in a weekend, there’s little time to savor the first one.
After Collegiate sophomore Jewell Bolden locked up her first title, successfully defending her 3A title in the long jump on Friday, she was already anticipating Saturday’s races on the track.
Bolden qualified for the final of the 200 and will run the preliminaries of the 100 on Saturday morning after winning the long jump with a mark of 18-4½, which came on her first attempt.
“Right now I’m not first in the 100 or the 200,” Bolden said, “but winning this gives me confidence in my other events too.”
Despite running her 200 preliminary race during the competition, Bolden was still only a half-inch off her personal-best mark. But that didn’t matter to the champion afterward, just the victory.
“As long as I win, I’m happy,” Bolden said.
Franz wins pole vault
Hillsboro’s Marah Franz didn’t realize she had just completed the best vault of her life until she was over the bar and landing on the cushioning.
Even a half-hour after Franz had won the 3A championship in the pole vault by clearing a personal-best mark of 10-6, what the junior had accomplished hadn’t set in.
“It still really hasn’t hit me,” Franz said. “I couldn’t believe it, but I’m so happy right now.”
Franz and Hoisington’s Natalie Sanders both cleared 10-6, but Franz won the tiebreaker because she cleared it on her first attempt. Franz has qualified for state all three seasons and was also runner-up in 2A last season.
Buhler’s Keller wins long jump
It had become an annual tradition, a cruel one at that, for Buhler’s Alex Keller to come to the state track and field meet, come close to a championship, and leave with heartbreak.
She had finished third, fifth, and fifth respectively in Class 4A in her long jump career, but this season Keller said felt different. It being her last chance at a title, she wasn’t willing to come up short for a fourth time.
It was a different Keller that competed on Friday, as she left no doubt in winning the 4A long jump championship with four marks that were better than her competition with the best being a mark of 17 feet, 11¼ inches.
“This has been something I’ve been working for since my freshman year,” Keller said. “Finally I can say that I came to state and won, plus it being my senior year it’s a pretty good way to go out.”
Keller ended her career with her two best jumps, as she set a personal-best of 18-0 to win regionals.
The difference, according to Keller, has been hammering out kinks in her lead-up to the jump.
“I feel like this year the runway and I were more on the same team than we were in previous years,” Keller joked. “I worked a lot on my technique and hitting the board the right way. It finally all came together today.”
Keller also has a chance for another title run, as she will challenge for the 4A crown in the triple jump on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
“All of that hard work definitely paid off,” Keller said. “It came with a good ending.”
Eckels beats out nerves
Being a 2-time state champion didn’t help Southeast junior Breanna Eckels quell the nerves she was feeling while defending her 6A title in the long jump.
In between jumps Eckels could feel the nerves take over and no matter what tricks she tried, she couldn’t shake them. But a queasy stomach was not stopping Eckels from repeating as champion, as she turned in a 18-8½ mark to win by over a foot.
“I hope the nerves go away (Saturday),” Eckels said. “I don’t know why I was so nervous, but it’s a lot of pressure with such high expectations. I always get nervous in the big meets.”
Eckels eclipsed 18 feet in eight of her nine competitions this season, displaying a consistency that she capitalized on for her third state title.
Now Eckels wants a sweep, as she will try to win the triple jump title on Saturday at 9:45 a.m.
“I’m ready to jump again,” Eckels said. “It didn’t happen as good as I wanted to today, but it’s still a pretty good mark to end the season on.”
• Lawrence senior twins Matia and Rebecca Finley finished first and second in the discus for a third season in a row, as Matia won her third straight title with a throw of 149-3 and Rebecca was runner-up at 137-5.
• The 3200 race in 3A produced the two fastest times in Kansas this season, as defending champion Kaylee Bogina from Arma-Northeast came through in 10:58.40 and not far behind her was St. Mary’s Sophie Dalmasso in 10:59.06. Bogina finished her career with three 3200 titles.
• Blue Valley West senior Christina LeMunyon won the 5A pole vault championship and did so in record-setting fashion, as her winning clearance of 12-9 broke the mark held by Mill Valley’s Emily Brigham in 2013 by an inch.
• Maranatha Academy senior Lauren Harrell successfully defended the first of her three titles (800, 1600, 3200) from last season, as she won the 3200 race in 2A with a time of 11:25.33.
• Baldwin senior Alexia Stein won her second straight shot put title in 4A, this time tacking on over two feet to her personal-best mark with her winning throw of 47-1½.
• Sabetha senior Megan Garrett won her third consecutive high jump title in 3A, as she was the only competitor to clear 5-4.
• Blue Valley Northwest junior Hannah Van Buskirk successfully defended her 6A title in the high jump, but it came on a tiebreaker as she was one of three competitors to clear 5-4.
• Washington County senior Erin Alexander defended her 2A championship in the shot put, winning again this year with a throw of 39-9½. Alexander was also the defending champion in the discus, although she finished fourth on Friday.
• Clifton-Clyde sophomore Kortni Hubert is a 2-time champion in the javelin and now has the 1A meet record after launching a 141-6 throw on her first attempt.
• St. Paul junior Jenny O’Bryan won her second straight 3200 title in 1A, this year lowering her season-best time to 11:26.99.
• Valley Heights senior Sidney Blackburn won her second straight discus title in 1A with a winning throw of 123-4.
• Rolla senior Katie Murray won her second straight high jump title in 1A, as she was the only competitor to clear 5-4.