Good Kop: Wellington standout surprises himself with state title
Eric Kop got about two hours of sleep Friday night.
Long after the torrential rain poured through the Wichita area, Kop was still awake in his bed. He counted down from 100 multiple times, but just as he was falling asleep, he would spring up.
He was nervous.
Saturday morning, Kop ran one of the best races of his career in the Class 4A boys 110-meter hurdles and won it at 14.54 seconds over league rival Jack Mull of Winfield. As he crossed the finish line, he put his hands in the air, and well after he crossed it, his jubilation could be felt throughout Cessna Stadium.
“Last year, I hit every hurdles, finished ninth and didn’t even qualify for the final,” Kop said. “I’m just happy. I put a lot of work in for this.”
Kop won his regional meet but entered with the No. 4 time in Class 4A. Because of it, he was toward the edge of the track and had to race.
Kop said he wasn’t expecting to win Saturday, and just a couple of years ago, it wasn’t clear he would even compete. Kop moved to Wellington from 1A Chase County. The bigger school brought more competition and he almost quit as a sophomore.
Down on himself, Kop gave it one more shot as a junior and it paid off as a senior.
“This is probably one of the biggest accomplishments of my life,” Kop said.
Deron double for Wichita South speedster
Deron Dudley fell to his knees and then to his stomach, the put his hands above his head and kissed the track.
“That was it,” Dudley said. “My last high school track meet, my last 100 on this track. I’m going to walk out head high and proud.”
Saturday, Dudley became the first Class 6A boys sprinter to win back-to-back 100-meter championships since Eniak Epwo did it at Olathe North in 1996-97. Dudley did it in 2019 at 10.61 seconds.
“That means so much to me,” Dudley said. “I’ve been working so hard to get it.”
Last year, Dudley was the dark horse candidate to win the title among a crowded Class 6A field that included former teammate Philip Landrum and Southeast’s Ollie McGee. It was his first 100-meter win all season. He came in at 10.59 seconds.
After a rain delay postponed Dudley’s 200-meter race, he came back Sunday morning and won the 6A boys 200 at 22.08 seconds, and he ran out of the first heat.
Dudley ran into the wind at his regional meet, which hurt his qualifying time. Luckily for him, West junior Jaleel Montgomery did, too, and pushed him in the first heat. Montgomery finished third at 22.31.
With Dudley’s 200-meter title, he finished his South career with five state championships and a state record in the 4x100-meter relay. He is one of the most decorated South High athletes in school history. On his final podium stand, he took a second to look around and take it in.
“It never gets old,” Dudley said. “Every time I’m up there, I feel so blessed. I put in the work, and you see the results. If you put in the work, you will get what you want.”
Dudley said it was remarkable he was even back on the track.
As an eighth grader, Dudley was running against West High rival Xavier Sellers when he felt a pop in his right hip. He took another step and collapsed. He went to the emergency room and learned he had broken his hip.
“It took six months to get back,” Dudley said. “Then freshman year, the same thing happened but on the left hip.”
Dudley came back as a sophomore and finished second in Class 6A to former South star Philip Landrum. That put him on the map. Dudley is heading to High Point University (North Carolina) to run under former South and Wichita State sprinter Shamoya Pruitt.
“Check me at High Point,” he said.
Maize gets redemption on Northwest out of nothing with 4x100 title
When the time went on the board, Caden Cox made some space and launched up for a backfield in the infield.
The Maize 4x100-meter relay team had just won the Class 5A state championship over rival Wichita Northwest, and the Eagles did it from the “slow” heat. They won it at 42.96 seconds, four hundreths of a second ahead of the Grizzlies.
All of the Maize runners were part of the football team that lost to Northwest 67-60 in the 5A state semifinals. It was one of the most thrilling games of the Kansas high school football season that ended with an interception following a Northwest touchdown with 35.9 seconds to play.
The Eagles remembered.
“With what happened in football, we don’t really speak on that,” Cox said. “Just know that next year, they are catching the smoke.”
Maize’s 4x100-meter relay team had been beaten up and sick all season. Last week at the Eagles’ regional meet, follow football teammate Keaton Robertson stepped in and did a job.
But the Eagles entered the state meet with the No. 14 qualifying time in Class 5A. They came third at their own regional.
Senior Brandle Easter Jr. said they knew they could pick it together at the state meet but didn’t know if they would. Junior Preven Christon, an All-Metro football receiver this year, said they hadn’t worked on the handoff all week with the group they had Saturday.
“We knew coming in that we had it in us,” Cox said. “We let it out this meet. ... Fly, Eagles, fly.”
Emphatic finish to career
The fastest high school athlete in Kansas started sprinting only 18 months ago.
Halfway through his junior year, Smoky Valley’s Tim Lambert added the 100 and 200-meter dashes to his arsenal as one of the best hurdlers in Kansas. Saturday, he had the fastest time among all 100-meter sprinters in the state, winning the Class 3A title at 10.55 seconds, breaking the meet record by almost a full tenth.
“I didn’t think I was going to run a 10.55 today, but I’ll take it,” Lambert said. “With the weather forcing no prelims, I knew it was the only race I had, so I had to give it everything.”
Lambert cleaned house last year, winning the 100, 200 and 300-meter hurdles. He started his final season off the same way, beating his championship time from a year ago by almost three tenths of a second.
He almost did the same in 2019. Lambert won the 200 again as a senior at 21.97, more than two tenths ahead of the field and helped the Vikings to a 42.93-second showing and title in the 4x100. But he found trouble in the 300-meter hurdles.
Going over the second to last hurdle of his career, Lambert fell on his face. Holding a massive lead over the field, he got up, but the cushion was five hundreths of a second too small as he lost his final 300 to Cheney’s Riley Petz, who won it at 39.43.
Lambert is signed to run at Kansas State upon his graduation. He said out-of-state tuition was a major factor, but being a kid from Smoky Valley and rewarding the state that has given him so much was a bigger one.
“It means so much because K-State has been my favorite school since I was a kid,” Lambert said. “I knew it was going to be hard to turn it down when they told me they were interested in me.”
Lambert followed his 100-meter title-winning performance with a relay championship in the 4x100 at 42.93 seconds.
“When I think about everything, it’s impressive, even to me,” Lambert said.
Finally gets his state championship
As Caleb Grill flew over the 6-foot-8 bar on only his first attempt, a detail went unnoticed.
He flipped his hips, turned his head and pointed is left index finger out. Grill gave a No. 1 with his hand, and that’s where he finished in Class 5A for the first time in his career in any sport. On his last day as a Maize High student-athlete, Grill won his first and only state championship.
“I wish I could have gotten a couple more in high school, but I’m just thankful I could get one,” Grill said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment.”
Grill missed out on his personal best by an inch, but he outlasted Newton’s Zach Garcia who finished at 6-6 and his teammate Jacob Hanna at 6-4.
Grill’s performance Saturday capped one of the Wichita area’s most outstanding in 2019. In the fall, Grill quarterbacked Maize to a state semifinal appearance in the Class 5A football tournament. He was named to the Eagle’s All-Metro team and Top 11 team in all of Kansas.
In the spring, he led the Eagles to their best boys basketball season in school history with just one loss and a third-place finish in Class 5A. But without a title, the season was a bit of a disappointed for the top seed in Class 5A.
“I knew it was my last shot, so I just wanted to make the most of it,” Grill said. “For me focusing on track was difficult with recruitment and just because it wasn’t really my sport. I just came in this year with a different mindset.”
Hicks leaves Northwest as two-time champion and all-time role model
After walking off the podium for the final time, Marcus Hicks was approached by someone he didn’t know.
“Congrats, man,” a student-athlete from Eureka told him. “I’m a huge fan. Can’t wait to see you at Oklahoma.”
Marcus Hicks, in his last day in a Wichita Northwest uniform, picked up his second state championship of his career and second of 2019 in the 5A boys discus at 169-6, beating Salina South’s Jayden Miller and last year’s champion Jacob Schmitz of Kapaun.
As a senior, Hicks led the Grizzlies to a Class 5A football state championship game appearance and won the 5A heavyweight wrestling title, his first.
But maybe more important, he cemented his legacy as one of the greats to come through Northwest and the Wichita area over recent years. Hicks said he takes that seriously and is looking forward to continuing that as a defensive end signed to play for the Sooners next year.
“It’s extremely rewarding,” Hicks said. “I know a lot of people look up to me. I just really want to leave that mark, so the people who are coming into my spot have something to strive for.”
Another sweep for a Carroll hurdler
There is a new hurdle king at Carroll.
A year after now-current Shocker Joseph Holthusen won the boys Class 5A 110- and 300-meter hurdles, Kody Marvin is on top. He won the 2019 110-meter title at 14.80 seconds. Holthusen won the same event at 14.55 seconds last year.
Marvin finished his career with a sweep of the hurdles events, winning the 300-meter hurdles at 39.66 seconds.
Marvin gave massive credit for his progression to the one who came before him.
“It feels amazing,” Marvin said. “Being in Holthusen’s shadow all year, it’s good to finally get out and say, ‘I’m here.’ I’m not just a kid who lives in kids’ shadows. I’m able to show what I can do.”
Carroll was a threat throughout the Class 5A field. Tommy Harter and Justin Powell finished fifth and sixth respectively. Marvin said they were also two of the senior’s biggest motivators.
“These guys have been by my side all year, pushing me to be better,” Marvin said. “We can’t control elements. We can only control our attitudes.”
Marvin had massive shoes to fill replacing Holthusen. He said he never felt like making his own legacy was too tough because of the support of his teammates and coaches but that he would tell him thank you for everything if he were there.
“But he may of won it last year, but not this year,” he said. “This is my year.”
Bad blood: West hurdler gets even, cuts hand
Coming over the seventh of 10 hurdles, Jaleel Montgomery felt a sharp pain in his left hand, but that was probably a good sign.
The Wichita West junior had cut his finger on the spikes of Hutchinson junior Tayezhan Crough. By the time he cross the finish line as the Class 6A 110-meter hurdles champion, his fingers were covered in blood. But it didn’t deter him, coming across with the best time in all classes at 14.07 seconds.
“It’s pretty deep, but I just had to keep on pushing,” Montgomery said. “I had to win.”
Montgomery has had a wild 2019 season. It started with a pair of losses to Crough at the Shocker Pre-State meet. Crough won both 6A hurdles events last year. Had Montgomery’s 2019 state time qualified last year, he would have won by almost four tenths.
Montgomery said after the pre-state meet, he knew he had more work to do. He came back and showed what he had been working on.
“It took goals, determination and trying to beat him,” he said. “I took it personally. I knew I needed to step up and take it.”
Super Colts: Campus wins 3 state titles in 2 days
Friday night, Austin Warkins helped the Campus baseball team to its second state championship in school history with a walkoff in extra innings over Lawrence Free State. Quinton Hicks and Cameron Harvey carried on tradition Saturday back home.
Hicks, who is heading to South Dakota State for football, and Harvey won their first and only state championships on their last day as a high school athletes. Hicks got it started with a 166-3 toss in the Class 6A discus, edging Olathe Northwest’s Connor Boyd by about four feet. And Harvey followed up with a title in the long jump at 22-1, ahead of Shawnee Mission South’s Jack Roberts at 21-6.25.
Hicks said he hit his mark on his second throw and held on.
“Watching where we all grew up from as freshman to now winning state championships, it’s so nice to be a part of,” Hicks said. “The one thing I’ve always wanted to do is win a state title whether it’s in football or being a manager for the basketball team. I finally did it. It’s an amazing feeling.”
For Harvey, 2019 marks the third straight year a 6A jumping title goes back to the Harvey household. Cameron’s older brother, Federico, won it in 2017 at 46-5.5 in the triple jump and last year at 47-0 in the triple jump. Harvey said to carry on what the school has achieved in the past two years or so is special.
To further the family name is a promise.
“My dad was a track star, and I have a lot of family playing Division I football,” Harvey said. “So for us to get our name in track, it means a lot to me.”
A hint of gold: Andover’s distance runners shine
It is tradition at Andover High for the distance runners to wear headbands, and the 2019 group added something to it.
Instead of a blue headband with a white Nike swoosh across the front, the Trojans went with a gold swoosh. Senior Asher Moen said there was a reason.
“We were hoping it was a little glimpse of what could come,” he said. “What did come.”
Moen won the 5A boys 3,200 meters at 9:24.74, topping a loaded field of Kansas City area talent, including 1,600-meter champion Ethan Marshall of Aquinas. Moen said he was feeling good Saturday, and it showed again later in the 4x800-meter relay.
The Trojans won that, too, as senior Ryan Kinnane, Moen, senior Josh Jackson and sophomore Samuel McDavitt brought home the title.
“There was a lot of adrenaline waiting for all the other 4x8s to finish up,” Kinnane said. “We have been waiting on this all year and hoping for this all year.”
- As expected, Bishop Carroll pole vault stars Ethan Hull and Brian Simon put on a show as the final two competitors in Class 5A. The two went to a jump-off as Hull captured his second state title with a 16-0 PR. Hull and Simon cleared every height on their first attempt except for Simon’s at 16-0. This was fresh off a 16-4 PR from Simon at the regional meet.
- Buhler’s Jordan Hawkins made history - barely. He finished at 10.65, beating the field by almost six tenths and the 4A boys 100-meter record by one hundreth of a second. He followed it with another title in the 200 meters at 22.49 and helped the Crusaders to a third-place finish int he 4x100-meter relay at 43.66.
- Newton’s Damarius Peterson finished his career and meshed it with his next at Wichita State with a state title in the 5A boys shot put. He beat a loaded field that included Northwest seniors Josh Carter and Marcus Hicks, Aquinas’ Joe Michalski and others. On Peterson’s final attempt, he threw 57-6.75 to win the competition by 5 1/2 feet.
- Cheney senior Trey Patterson had been knocking on the state championship door for years, and he broke through Sunday morning. Patterson, who is committed to Nebraska, won the 3A boys javelin at 195-10 on his final high school throw.
- Circle’s Ryan Derry continued his outstanding high school career with a state championship run in the 4A boys 800 meters. Racing against Wichita’s bests like El Dorado’s Ezekiel Kemboi and Clearwater’s COle Bixler-Large, Derry ran a 1:57.51, including a 58.03 on the final lap to take the title.
- For the second straight year, the 4A boys 4x800-meter relay title is with El Dorado. The Wildcats didn’t hit their time from a year ago, but they did go 8:15.63 to beat the field by almost four seconds. Seniors Christian Price, Dylan Wittum and Kemboi, and freshman Tylen Ashihi brought it back.
- Halstead’s Andrew O’Brien didn’t leave high school empty-handed. He won the 3A boys 800 meters at 1:57.46 and helped the Dragons to another title in the 4x800-meter relay at 8:08.45 along with seniors Braden Gerber and Josh Talbott, and junior Isaac Radke.
- Hutchinson junior Tayezhan Crough found redemption from his 110-meter hurdles loss with back-to-back titles in the 300-meter hurdles, beating Shawnee Mission West’s Cameron Shelton at 39.11 seconds, running out of the first heat.
- It wasn’t a PR, but Winfield’s Matt Everett finished his high school career with surprisingly his first state championship. Signed to Memphis, Everett threw 183-9 and had a best of 195-1, the No. 13 mark all-time.
- Hillsboro senior Wes Shaw finished his career with a pair of state titles in the 2A boys discus and shot put. He won the shot at 54-8.5 and the discus at 173-2, which would have beaten all but one competitor in Kansas.
- Sterling sophomore Tyus WIlson didn’t hit his 7-0 mark in the 2A boys hgih jump that he did last year, which made him the top freshman in America, but he did win his second title at 6-10, beating West Elk’s Devin Loudermilk at 6-8.
- Kingman’s Owen Pearce rounded out a fabulous high school career with the Eagles by winning the 3A boys 1,600 meters at 4:24.38.