From 1994 to 2001, Liberal’s boys and girls track and field teams won 16 state championships in 16 chances.
Bishop Carroll isn’t near that sort of streak, but in 2019, the Golden Eagles have an attractive chance to go 2-for-2. The boys are the defending Class 5A champions, and the girls have one of the top lineups in Kansas, featuring arguably Wichita’s best track athlete, senior Kindel Nordhus.
No Kansas Class 5A team has won boys and girls state championships since 2004 in Liberal’s last go during its decade of dominance. And a state double has only happened 11 times this century.
Carroll coach Cody Swords said he believes winning both is a real possibility.
“Those girls have never made the grass and finished on the podium,” he said. “St. James is going to be tough, but state is a long meet.”
Last year, the Carroll boys won state by 40 team points over Shawnee Heights. It was a deep and strong group. The Eagles had 12 top-five finishes and four state-title winners.
Only one champion, pole vaulter Ethan Hull, returns. Hull would be on pace to cruise to a second title if not for his teammate Brian Simon. Both set personal bests of 15 feet, 6 inches at the recent Topeka Seaman Invitational.
But in the background, the Carroll girls were formulating a run in 2019. The Eagles finished seventh in Class 5A but were fewer points away from a title than the margin between first and second on the boys’ side.
They had 10 finish in the top 10 and a state champion in Taylor Linn in pole vault. Of those top 10 finishers, Carroll lost none of them.
Regional meets are a week away. Carroll has relay teams and athletes in the top five of Class 5A in 10 events, according to Sports in Kansas’ state leaderboard, including the following:
5A girls pole vault
- Taylor Linn, Bishop Carroll, 11-1
- Becca Bailey, Maize, 10-9
- Victoria Maxton, Salina South, 10-7
- Lillian Diaz, Maize, 10-6
- Georgia Bell, Salina South, 10-6
5A girls 400 meters
- Kindel Nordhus, Bishop Carroll, 57.98
- Hannah Robinson, St. James Academy, 58.53
- Katie Moore, St. James Academy, 59.40
- Hannah Turner, Blue Valley Southwest, 59.91
- Hannah Wiebe, Andover Central, 1:00.35
5A girls 300-meter hurdles
- Kindel Nordhus, Bishop Carroll, 43.75
- Maggie Remsberg, Newton, 44.62
- Shelby Butterfield, Shawnee Heights, 45.45
- Jakaila Morgan, St. Thomas Aquinas, 47.11
- Susana Canales, Pittsburg, 47.26
Nordhus is the Carroll girls’ headliner. She has the state’s No. 7 time in the 200 meters (No. 2 in 5A), third-best time in the 400, fifth in 100-meter hurdles (No. 3 in 5A) and the 10th-best time in Kansas history in the 300-meter hurdles.
“I could take about all her accolades, but I still go back to the intangibles that she brings,” he said. “There are a lot of girls that run great times, but Kindel is more than that. She is one of the first kids to cheer somebody on. She doesn’t limit herself and makes herself available to her teammates.”
Although Nordhus will likely steal the headlines at the state meet, she has a group of fellow seniors around her who will contribute to the team’s cause.
Isabella Hohl and Tere Engelbrecht join her on the track, and Linn will look for another title in the pole vault. Mans said he believes this year’s senior class is special.
“With all the talent they have, they buy in and know what they have to offer as far as leadership and those types of things,” Mans said. “That could be the difference this year in terms of getting on that podium and maybe even finishing at the top. They get that, and they’re starting to believe that.”
The Carroll boys don’t have one headliner; they have many. Senior Matt Redick has stepped up in the throws. Fellow senior Kody Marvin has learned from Joseph Holthusen, current Shocker and former state champion. And another senior Matt Harding has come along late in the distance events.
Mans said though the boys team has been to the top, the program celebrated as a group. The girls push the boys, and the boys push the girls.
“Our team mantra is ‘Eagle pride, one vision,’” Mans said. “It’s always one program. We really try to stress that. We take our team picture together at the beginning of the year.”
The Golden Eagles will hope to take another come May 25 in Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium.