Norris’ 800 tops boys
Friday's crummy weather at the State Track and Field Championships didn't allow for many bright spots, at least not for the Tonganoxie boys team.
Senior Dustin Schultz competed in the pole vault at 8:30 a.m. as a slight drizzle fell on Cessna Stadium in Wichita. Schultz won his regional with a 13-0 launch a week earlier, but couldn't even make a height at state.
Other Chieftains competed throughout the day, but none grabbed medals.
Then came Saturday. Clear skies and warmer weather surely would mean better results.
The Chieftains' other regional winner, the 4x800, somehow faltered at Wichita State, finishing in 13th with an 8:38.47 time.
But just when the sun started to set behind the stadium, the Chieftains found their bright spot.
Kyle Norris, who was part of the 4x800 team, scooted twice around the track in the 800 in 2:00.26 for an unexpected third-place finish. The junior finished fourth in his own regional the previous week, but came back in Wichita for the bronze.
"I didn't think I'd get third," Norris said. "I thought I'd get in the top seven."
Baldwin's Eric Black (1:56.89) and Matt Noonan (1:58.35) finished 1-2 at state, just as they did in the Tonganoxie regional. But Mill Valley's Griffin Lee couldn't emulate his regional finish. Instead, Norris placed third and finished ahead of one rival for the first time this season.
"I've been trying to beat him all year," Norris said about Lee.
Black and Noonan will go from teammates to rivals next year in the Big 12 Conference. Black will run at Kansas; Noonan, who won the 3,200 and 1,600, is headed to Missouri. Norris will have one more year of high school track.
Norris was the only Chieftain to score points. Tonganoxie tied for 24th with six points. Baldwin won its second straight state title scoring 73. Kaw Valley League member Lansing tied with Circle for second, while Scott City was fourth (38).
Jacob Walker and Joe Calovich finished ninth and 13th respectively in the triple jump Friday. Calovich was slated for the high jump Saturday, but rolled his ankle in warm-ups. He sat out while teammate Shane Howard competed. Howard had his personal best 6-0 at regionals, tying Calovich for third. At state, though, he couldn't quite manage the height.
"That's what got me here," Howard said. "I knew that's what I had to do."
Howard took 13th with a 5-10 jump. Walker was eighth in the long jump (20-0.5); Matt Madeira missed the 400 finals.
Tonganoxie could return to Wichita next year with a larger group. Although Dustin Schultz will be lost to graduation in the pole vault, only two other seniors Nathan Bailey and Alan Davis were major point producers for a team that won its first conference title since 1997.
Chieftain coach Phil Williams looked for next year to be productive.
"I'm excited about next year already," Williams said.