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  • Back on track

  • The new track at Girard High School made its varsity high school debut in flying colors Friday during the Girard Optimist Invitational.

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  • The new track at Girard High School made its varsity high school debut in flying colors Friday during the Girard Optimist Invitational.
    “Very nice, a very nice facility,” Girard head coach Matt Logue said with enthusiasm not strained by vocal chords being worked out for several hours. “I’ve been here for 17 years and this is by far the largest Girard Invitational that we’ve ever had. It must have attracted some of those teams, which is a great thing because we’ve had great competition. I’m very happy.”
    “It’s a great track,” St. Mary’s Colgan head coach Cathy Oplotnik said. “It’s soft, great running conditions and the atmosphere tonight is awesome. There’s so many schools here and a lot of great athletes competing.”
    “It seems like they did a good job fixing everything on it, seems like it’s a fast track and great competition,” Pittsburg head coach Gary Ausemus said. “With the fast track and good competition, we’re performing pretty good.”
    Five county schools — Girard, Pittsburg, Colgan, Frontenac and Northeast — brought athletes and Southeast Kansas League schools strong in track and field like Chanute and Fort Scott competed. Bringing even more depth of competition was Joplin, Webb City, Carthage, Carl Junction, Miami and Grove, as well as Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League programs Baxter Springs, Galena and Riverton.
    The weather cooperated all Friday, as ominous clouds kept circling in the distance to the west and the north away from Frank Jameson Field. Not one drop of rain hit upon a newer track.
    On the boys side, Girard had Dayne Sands win the high jump (6 feet, 4 inches) and Ben Coomes place fourth in the shot put (45-1) and third in the javelin (146-9) as highlights of the night. On the girls side, Randi Pierce took first in the high jump (5-2), second in the pole vault (9-6) and sixth in the triple jump (32-7).
    “Our kids are doing great,” Logue said as he stopped between stops. “Of course, we’ve got them in over their head and they’ve competed great. We had Dayne Sands win high jump with a four-inch personal best. These are the ones I know about. I had Ben Coomes throw 45-1 in the shot put. That’s about a two-foot personal best. I can’t name them all. I’m so dang busy and I haven’t seen all the results but I’ve had about 15 kids come up and say ‘I’ve set a personal best today.’ It’s well worth having.”
    On the girls side, Pittsburg claimed a 13-point victory over Grove. Brianna Maxwell won the shot put (37-11.5), Lauren Ouderkirk and Sarah Jewett took second and fourth in the long jump with 16-0.75 and 15-8.5 respectively, Chelsea Baker, McKenzie Spressor and Nicole Striplin finished 1-2-3 (34-3.75, 33-11.5, 33-9.5) in the triple jump, Ouderkirk won the intermediate hurdles (45.57 seconds), Skyler Muff took second in the high hurdles (16.14) and won the 4x400 relay in 4:09.27.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We have some really good jumpers and Coach Cummings does a really good job with them,” Ausemus said. “They’ve been progressing all year. We expect our long jumpers and our triple jumpers, both boys and girls, to perform well at every meet. So far this year they’ve not disappointed.”
    On the boys side, Pittsburg senior Marcus Striplin was third in the long jump (21-1.75), fifth in the triple jump (41-0) and seventh in the high jump (5-8).
    Ausemus talked about the new track at Pittsburg High School and how it has been affecting the performance of PHS track.
    “We actually have started practicing on it,” Ausemus said. “This is our second week on it and our relays are starting to come around because we’re getting more practice. Kids were thrilled to death to be out on a good track and a good facility. We just can’t thank our boosters and the Pittsburg community enough for helping us get that track. We’ve needed one for a while and we finally got it.”
    The Colgan boys were led by solid performances: Derek Beck second in the 400 (51.19), Casey Steinmiller third in intermediate hurdles (40.34), Jonny Adamson second in the 3200 (10:14.90) and fifth in 1600 (4:51.07).
    “The kids that we’ve had competing have done very well for us,” Oplotnik said. “Our relays have been great. We’ve had some good distances in our long jump, Conner Dayton in the long jump. Rachel Barnes made it to the finals of the javelin, which is exciting. Cori Koehn ran a PR in the 400 and Derek (Beck) in the 100, Jonny (Adamson) in the 3200. We’re having a good day.”
    On the girls side, Moira Myers finished third in the 800 (2:30.99) and Barnes eighth in the javelin (93-7).
    “At the beginning, it made me nervous but then we’re able to get out there and run with them, it makes them feel better and to get a medal from this event is a great accomplishment,” Oplotnik said.
    Frontenac senior Meghan Winden finished seventh in the long jump (15-5), eighth in the triple jump (31-4) and fifth in the high hurdles (16.86). On the boys side, Brandon Swallow took second in the javelin (147-7).
    Northeast sophomore J.T. Richardson earned the only Northeast points of the night with a seventh-place finish in the long jump (19-5).
    Team results (girls): Pittsburg 104, Grove 91, Carthage 64, Chanute 55, Circle 40, Miami 40, Joplin 38.5, Webb City 36, Fort Scott 33, College Heights 31, Carl Junction 26, Riverton 25, Frontenac 25, Colgan 24, Baxter Springs 13.5, Galena 5, Nevada 3, Sheldon 2, Northeast 0.
    Team results (boys): Webb City 114, Carthage 78, Joplin 67, Grove 62, Fort Scott 45, Galena 44, Chanute 44, Colgan 42, Carl Junction 32, Pittsburg 28, Girard 26, College Heights 21, Baxter Springs 19, Miami 17, Riverton 15, Circle 13, Nevada 11, Frontenac 8, Northeast 2.

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