The Kansas state track meet this weekend in Wichita will feature nearly 3,500 high school athletes competing at the 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A levels.
Events start at 8 a.m. Friday and wrap up Saturday evening in Cessna Stadium.
Cox Kansas 22 will televise 72 races beginning 3 p.m. Saturday with the girls and boys 4x100 relays, 400-meter dash, 300 low hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles, 800 runs, 200 dashes and 4x400 relays. Team awards will be presented after the conclusion of the last 4x400 race.
County schools Pittsburg (4A), St. Mary’s Colgan (3A), Frontenac (4A), Girard (4A), Northeast (2A) and Southeast (3A) will be represented by several.
The Frontenac Raiders had both of the preseason favorites — baseball, softball — in the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League.
Both teams held up their end of the bargain by claiming league titles — back-to-back for both — and the baseball and softball teams returned 17 of a possible 18 starters, led by a strong, veteran senior group on both sides.
Headed into the Class 4A state tournament in Salina, seniors Lindsey Gorham, Jennifer Long, Nayna Fields, Libby Warrick, Sam Bonner and Ashton Alex have played on Raider teams with a combined record of 75-15 (.833 winning percentage) and 48-10 CNC (.828).
Over the past three seasons, the Frontenac Raider baseball program enjoyed a 59-14 overall record (.808 winning percentage), 44-3 the past two seasons (.936), one state championship (2012), one state third place (2011), two regional titles, two league titles (first and second in school history) and one undefeated regular season (18-0).
This success was highly dependent on the contributions of seniors Matt Standlee, Blake Vail, Bryan Wade, Bryce Burdette, Blake Barto, Gus Brunetti, Ross Edge, Avery Coronado, Nick Zafuta, Jacob Teats and Dylan Plouvier — kids who played with or against each other in the backyard, the sandlot, the youth leagues, the traveling teams, the All-Star teams, et cetera, until they formed the core of the Frontenac baseball team and developed a bond of brotherhood.
Their run ended with a regional final loss to Coffeyville on Wednesday and the senior class graduated on Saturday.
The Pittsburg girls finished second in the Class 4A regional Friday at Iola and placed a small percentage of the 3,456 qualifiers across the state of Kansas for next weekend's state track meet in Wichita.
Chelsea Baker qualified in several events: second in the triple jump at 35 feet, 6 3/4 inches, fourth in the high jump at 5-0, third in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.82 seconds and she participated in the second place 4x100 relay with Nicole Striplin, Sarah Jewett and Andie Casper.
Casper won the lone Pittsburg girls regional title in the long jump with a leap of 17-3 1/4. She finished just outside the top four in the 100 and the 200. Casper also participated in the 4x400 with Jewett, Striplin and Lizzy Willis.
The versatile Jewett finished third in the 800 in 2:28.15 and took part in all three state-qualifying relays: 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 with Willis, freshman Morgan Plank and Katie Phalen.
The Frontenac Raiders pitched and fielded their way through the Class 4A softball regional to earn a spot in the state tournament, returning after a one-year absence and making its first 4A appearance.
Frontenac defeated Baxter Springs 2-0 in the semifinals and blanked Fort Scott 1-0 in the final during a regional dominated by pitching.
Nobody pitched it better than Frontenac, which allowed no runs in 17 innings. Senior ace Lindsey Gorham pitched 16 of those innings and she gave up 12 hits against Parsons (a combined no-hitter), Baxter and Fort Scott.
“She’s a workhorse,” Frontenac head coach Cassie Buche said of Gorham. “She knows what needs to be done to get us there. She wants the ball and likes the pressure.”
The Frontenac-Pittsburg regional semifinal, on paper, offered many different storylines.
Frontenac dominated Parsons 15-0 in a three-inning run-rule Class 4A regional first-round game Monday afternoon.
Frontenac pitchers Lindsey Gorham and Rachel Amershek combined on a three-inning no-hitter. Gorham struck out two.
Offensively, Jennifer Long went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, a walk, two stolen bases and one RBI. Ashton Alex went 2-3 with two runs scored, a double and two RBI. Gorham supported herself with two RBI and two runs scored and her stat line included a walk and a sacrifice. Sam Bonner drove in three runs with a triple, her lone hit of the contest. Libby Warrick scored a run and Ryleigh McCartney scored two.
Frontenac (18-1) plays Baxter Springs at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals, back in Chanute.
Frontenac junior pitcher Brett Macary threw a complete game shutout gem, the Raiders took advantage of Girard errors and used strong baserunning to break open a scoreless game early on and the defending Class 3A state champions moved into the semifinals of their Class 4A regional with a 7-0 first-round win Monday night at the Raider Sports Complex.
“Brett threw a very good game,” Frontenac head coach Bill Sullivan said. “He’s been sharp all year and we felt confident throwing him tonight.”
Frontenac (19-0) will now take on returning 4A state qualifier Pittsburg (10-11) in the 2 p.m. semifinal game Wednesday in Altamont. Columbus and Coffeyville will meet in the other semifinal — Columbus defeated No. 2 seed Labette County 3-1 on its home field and Coffeyville outlasted Independence 2-1 in 12 innings.
The Girard Trojans swept the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League titles on Thursday, the girls by 20 points over Frontenac and the boys in a landslide with the second-best team (St. Mary's Colgan) 42 points behind the Trojans, 141-98.
On the boys side, Drew Davied, a freshman who has won nearly every meet this season, won his first league title in the high jump with a mark of 6 feet, 8 inches, matching his personal best (one of the best high school marks in Kansas).
Logan Franklin won the javelin at 167-9, finished third in the shot put at 39-10 and third in the discus at 119-3.
Frontenac senior pole vaulter Taylor Johnson signed his letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to join the Pittsburg State track & field team.
Johnson established a school record in the pole vault at the Southeast Invitational in April and Frontenac head coach Troy Morris vividly remembers this moment in time.
"I was standing there at the time," Morris said on Thursday as the Frontenac track squad arrived in Riverton for the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League meet. "The guy working there asked him what he wanted to move it to and Taylor said 14-1 (14 feet, 1 inch), which was an odd increment. He already won the meet and the guy asked him, 'Is 14-0 the school record?' He said 'Yeah.' They moved it up to 14-1 and he went over it pretty easy."
Johnson had just cleared 13-0, hence the field worker's reaction to Johnson's request to raise the bar to 14-1.