Varsity Track and Field

First state track meet garnered brought Kansas athletes together

When the first state track and field championships were held in Emporia on May 13, 1911, it was a far cry from the current meet held at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium that attracts thousands of fans.

A story in the Emporia Gazette on May 18, 1911, said the meet "attracted small attention, for some inexplicable reason, and the crowd was insignificant. In spite of rooting support the appearance of the athletes was splendid."

The meet, which was for boys only, drew athletes to Emporia from six congressional districts. The 66 athletes who competed were the first- and second-place finishers from their district meets.

"The meet was well handled and the thirteen events were rolled off in two hours," the Emporia Gazette article said.

Norton won the team title, scoring 20 points.

Norton was led by Arnold (no first names were included in the story). Arnold, who was called a "natural track athlete" and the "star of the Norton High School," earned a meet-high 11 points. He finished third in the 100, first in the 220-yard dash (24.4 seconds) and first in the 220-yard hurdles (28.4 seconds). He was also part of Norton's winning mile relay.

The Emporia Gazette described Arnold's day: "The best showing of the day from the point of interest was Arnold's performance in the relay. He was fifty yards behind the Chase County runner at the start of the last lap, but steadily gained about the circle, and passed his opponent on the home stretch. It was a beautiful performance and a rousing finish for the meet."

Other top performers included Clay County's Root, who won the mile (4 minutes, 47 seconds) and the half-mile (2:13.8); Emporia's Trusler, who won the 120-yard hurdles (17.8 seconds) and the high jump (5 feet).

Trusler also merited attention from the Gazette: "Trusler was the only Emporia athlete that broke into the scoring, and he was good for two firsts.... Trusler ran away from the field in the high hurdles, winning with ridiculous ease, and he topped the high jump bar a few inches above the others."

The Emporia Gazette also wrote that "handsome medals were presented to winners of firsts."