Local 10-year-old selected to compete at Hershey’s Track and Field Games in Pennsylvania
Conner Kietzmann won't be touring Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, but he will be heading to a place just as good -- Hershey, Pa.
The 10-year-old Tonganoxie youth learned last week that he was chosen to compete Aug. 4-7 at the North American Hershey's Track and Field Games.
Conner qualified for the event after he placed first at the Hershey's state meet in the 200 and 400 meters earlier this month in Burlington.
Hershey's officials then choose five winners from each state to participate at the North American meet in Hershey.
Conner was fortunate to be one of five chosen from Kansas.
"I was pretty happy," Conner said.
Conner not only is excited to be competing in Hershey, but he's also looking forward to the plane ride. Hershey's will be paying for all Conner's expenses from the trip.
"It will be my first flight," Conner said.
In addition, participants have an itinerary of sightseeing, including a tour of the Hershey's chocolate factory. If Conner receives any chocolate handouts, his mother, Jill, might have to help him consume the treats.
"Out of our four, he's probably our least sweet-eater," Jill said with a laugh.
Participants at the Hershey's Games are divided into eight regions. Included in Kansas' region are Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Canadian provinces Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Conner advanced to the state meet after taking first in both the 200 and 400 at the regional track meet in Tonganoxie last month.
At state, Conner again placed first in both events and nearly broke the state record in the 400. He finished with a time of 1:09.69. Junction City's Kyle Wells set the state record in the 9-10-year-old division with a 1:09.52 time in 1993.
"He was shooting for it," Jill said. "He was trying to break it. He came awfully close."
In the process, Conner had to fight a crosswind on a windy day in Burlington.
In Hershey, Conner again will run in the 400.
"I was hoping he would go to compete in the 400, if he got to compete at all," Jill said.
Conner, who said he occasionally runs with his mother and father, Chad, runs an average of three times per week. He also participates in baseball, basketball and soccer. He said basketball is his favorite sport -- and running isn't far behind.
"I kind of like basketball a little more, and then probably track," Conner said.
The Hershey's Track and Field program provides competition to youth in the United States and Canada in three age divisions -- 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14.
Overall, more than 500 youths will compete at the meet in August in Pennsylvania, marking the 28th year of the event. The meet will be held at Henry Hershey Field on the campus of Milton Hershey School.
Conner hopes to again secure a first-place finish after winning gold in Tonganoxie and Burlington. In the next meet, however, Conner will compete against athletes from two countries.
Whatever place he takes, Conner will listen to the advice his parents gave him before the state meet.
"I just remember that my mom and dad told me to do your best and we'll be happy because you did your best," Conner said.
track and field results
50-meter finals -- 5. Sean Potter, 8.28 seconds.
100-meter prelim -- 9. Sean Potter, 15.91; 22. Tyler Ford, 16.78.
200-meter finals -- 1. Conner Kietzmann, 31.88.
400 meters -- 1. Conner Kietzmann, 1 minute, 9.69 seconds.
Standing long jump -- 3. Sean Potter, 5 feet, 8 inches; 10. Conner Kietzmann, 5-3.25.
Softball throw -- 4. Matthew Saathoff, 124-9.
100-meter prelims -- 24. Alec Smith, 17.5.
200-meter prelims -- 10. Jeff Sims, 33.8.
400 meters -- 8. Jeff Sims, 1:12.28.
Standing long jump -- 7. Jeff Sims, 6-2; 14. Alec Smith, 5-6.5.
13-14 age division
100-meter prelims -- 10. Ian Smith, 15.38.
200-meter prelims -- 4. Dylan Howe, 28.52; 8. Deven Howe, 39.69.
200-meter finals -- 7. Dylan Howe, 31.47; 8. Deven Howe, 32.47.
800 meters -- 7. Dylan Howe, 3:01.25; 8. Deven Howe, 3:02.42.
Standing long jump -- 9. Ian Smith, 6-6.5
50-meter prelims -- 15. Emily Soetaert, 9.19; 17. Hunter Cook, 9.21.
100-meter prelims -- 8. Emily Soetaert, 17.12; 16. Hunter Cook, 17.81.
100-meter finals -- 7. Emily Soetaert, 17.5.
200-meter prelims -- 15. Megan Zerrer, 39.22.
400 meters -- 11. Megan Zerrer, 1:32.18.
Softball throw -- 10. Emily Soetaert, 68-8.
Standing long jump -- 7. Megan Zerrer, 5-0; 10. Tori Tummons, 4-11.
100-meter prelims -- 11. Shea Nicolay, 15.19; 18. Kami Wisdom, 15.62.
200-meter prelims -- 15. Shea Nicolay, 34.36.
Standing long jump -- 9. Shea Nicolay, 6-3.5.
Softball throw -- 8. Jo Kissinger, 93-4.
1,600 meters -- 4. Kelsey Wagner, 6:47.87.
Standing long jump -- 9. Kelsey Wagner, 6-1.5.