Varsity Kansas

Track notes: Schepis family tradition at KU Relays continues

The Kansas Relays have always been special place for the Schepis family.

It began in 1966 when Phil Schepis ran in the 6400-meter relay for Wichita State on a team that would go on to become WSU’s first to win a conference championship.

Next came his son, Josh, who ran in the same race, first as a senior at Heights in 1992 and then four years later at Wichita State.

Josh’s son, Andy, carried on the tradition in 2011 when he ran the relay for Bishop Carroll, and Josh’s daughter, Madison, a freshman at Maize South, became the fourth in the Schepis family to run in the event at the Relays last weekend.

“It was a very cool experience for all of us,” Josh Schepis said. “It was a very good feeling as a father to know that two of your own have reached that point because it takes a lot just to be accepted at the Kansas Relays. You know how tough it is just to qualify.”

Madison Schepis ran the relay with Sierra Mortenson, Mia Kossover and Destini Eskridge, as Maize South finished as the second-fastest team from Kansas in the race in a time of 22 minutes, 42.80 seconds.

The freshman said she never did ask her family what it was like before the race, but just knowing that her father, who has been the coach of the Newman cross country program since it formed in 2001, and her brother Andy, who just this season became the distance coach for the Maize South track team, were in attendance inspired her.

“It was pretty cool to have them there with me,” Madison said. “I really like whenever they’re there watching because it motivates me. It gives me the strength to go faster.”

Having her older brother as a coach has helped Madison in her inaugural high school season. She has already excelled in the 3200-meter race, already on the verge of breaking 12 minutes.

But watching her become the fourth Schepis to race in the 6400 relay at KU was special for Andy.

“It was pretty cool just seeing her carry on the family tradition,” he said. “It was definitely a different experience being there as a coach, but it was definitely cool since we’re all runners and we all did the same thing competing in the same race.”

Schell joins 15-foot club -- Cheney senior Calvin Schell set a personal-best mark Monday at the Garden Plain Invitational, setting the meet record by clearing 15 feet in the pole vault.

Schell has been on the verge of clearing 15 feet, but his two previous marks this season were 14 feet. The 12-inch improvement lands Schell with the second-best vault in Kansas this season.

“What sets Calvin apart from other vaulters I’ve been around is his ability to stay confident, no matter what happened on a previous attempt,” Cheney coach Rich Simmons said. “Every time he goes down the runway, he’s 100-percent confident he’s going to make that height, even if he never has before.”

Area wins big at KU Relays -- The area came away with six wins at the Kansas Relays, the most first-place finishes the Wichita area has produced in some time. Here’s a recap of all six:

Maize South’s Kassidy Johnson wins 800 in 2:16.36 – Finally healthy, Johnson is showing what she can do. Her time not only was a personal best, it was the second-fastest time this season in Kansas, and seven seconds faster than where she ended her injury-filled season last year at state. “It was an amazing feeling, especially since I wasn’t expecting to win at all,” Johnson said. “I feel like I came into this season more prepared and I’m back to 100 percent, so that definitely helps.”

Andover Central’s Jewell Bolden wins 100 hurdles in 14.38 – The four-time state champion has said since she entered high school at Collegiate that she brings her best for the big crowds. The one at Rock Chalk Park satisfied Bolden’s desire and she followed through with a personal-best time that left her feeling like she can become the seventh Kansas high school girl to break 14 seconds in the event. “Running a 14.38 this early in the season feels really good,” Bolden said, “because now I know I can get under 14.”

Derby’s Trent Allen wins javelin at 221-3 – The nation’s top javelin thrower extended his lead over the pack, setting a personal-best mark that now stands as the fifth-longest throw in Kansas history. After his first three meets of the season put Allen on everyone’s radar, he said he felt the pressure to succeed at a big-time meet. “I knew everyone was watching me and it’s not overwhelming, but it was a lot of pressure,” Allen said. “It was like, ‘you can’t screw up.’ So to win, that felt pretty satisfying.”

Andale’s Victoria Orth wins javelin at 147-10 – With Jenna Gray of St. James not throwing, Orth proved to be in a class by herself with her winning throw being nearly 10 feet better than the rest of the competition. Since finishing runner-up in Class 4A last spring, Orth hasn’t dipped below 147 feet in a competition yet in her senior season. “This year I got in the weight room and that’s really helped me with the consistency,” Orth said. “It was an incredible experience of just getting the opportunity to throw there in front of that many people. I wasn’t expecting to win, so to come out a champion felt really cool.”

Cheney’s Gabby Lavington wins shot put at 45-11/2 – Lavington claimed one of the few accomplishments that escaped her during her breakout junior campaign, a KU Relays title, and did so in dominant fashion, winning by over three feet. A lingering back injury has kept her from returning to the 46-foot throws of last season, but the league, regional, and state champion added a new title to her career resume.

Kapaun Mt. Carmel’s Matt Wilson wins steeplechase in 6:20.61 – The event is not run at the state meet, but Wilson is proving to be a bona fide star in it. After winning the race by nearly 10 seconds, Wilson owns the fifth-fastest time in Kansas history and the 17th-best time in the nation this season.