Chieftains land several in state meet
THS girls take third as team; boys to send Guthrie, relays to Wichita
Amber Sanborn nearly injured her coach during the long jump Friday at regionals in Tonganoxie.
After the sophomore leaped to a personal best mark of 16 feet, 1.75 inches -- which beat her previous best by about a foot -- Sanborn gave coach Chris Weller a big hug.
"She about ripped my neck off," Weller said.
And for good reason. Sanborn's leap catapulted her to second place in the long jump after she just made the finals by out-jumping teammate Tracie Hileman by a quarter-inch.
Once in the finals, Sanborn hit her stride. She held second place until two other jumpers had their best distance in their final attempt. That knocked Sanborn down to fourth, but she didn't care. The sophomore was headed to state for the first time.
"I don't know what I did different," Sanborn said about her top effort.
Weller said Sanborn's success came with plenty of determination.
"She's worked her rear off this year and it's really shown," Weller said. "She's finally getting her step down a lot better."
A gold medal at state would be ideal, but Sanborn isn't concerned about that. Rather, she wants to improve her own record and possibly break the school record, which stands at 16-5.
"I was just happy to go to state," Sanborn said.
This week, Sanborn will focus on exploding off her foot on that final step before floating into the sandpit. Her approach seems to be on target.
"I think I've got my mark down pretty good," Sanborn said.
Sanborn joins this handful of Tonganoxie girls headed to the state track meet Friday in Wichita: Rachel Weston, Christy Weller, Sarah Hartshorn, Ali Pistora and Jennifer Wagner.
The athletes helped THS to a third-place team finish at Friday's Class 4A regional in Tonganoxie. The Chieftains scored 60 points. Eudora won the meet with 91, while Sumner scored 61. Baldwin and Fort Scott were close behind with 59 each.
Weston is Tonganoxie's lone senior girl to advance to state. Weston again advanced with a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter high hurdles. She had a time of 16.3 seconds, just ahead of Wagner's 16.4 time, who placed fifth. The top four places in each event advance to Wichita.
But Wagner will compete in two other events at state. She placed fourth in the pole vault at 8-6 and second in the 300 meter low hurdles with a 47.8 time behind Eudora standout Emily Ballock, who finished at 46-flat.
The finish left Wagner giddy.
"I was flipping out," Wagner said, her eyes as big as her smile. "I couldn't sit still."
After narrowly missing state last year as a rookie, Wagner will be in Wichita as a sophomore.
"I have a lot more desire," Wagner said about this season. "I was so close last year."
Freshman Christy Weller, who advanced to state in cross country, earned a state berth in the 800 on Friday. She trailed Baldwin's Heather Garcia for much of the race, but kicked in her last push in the final 200 meters. Weller took the lead and won the race, finishing about two seconds ahead of Garcia. Weller had a 2:22.10 time.
"I didn't think I could beat the Baldwin girl," Weller said.
The field won't get any easier at state, but Weller likely won't change her strategy.
"I'll just follow her again," Weller said. "She's good."
Days before the state cross country meet, Weller injured her knee in a physical education class. She doesn't plan to participate in any extra activities this time.
"I'm not going to get hurt this time," Weller said.
Sarah Hartshorn and Ali Pistora grabbed Tonganoxie's two other gold medals. Hartshorn won the shot put with a 36-5.5 throw, while Pistora placed first in the javelin with a 145-1 heave, which again broke her own school record. Pistora also placed third in the high jump with a 5-2 mark.
Tonganoxie's third-place finish was the team's best in recent years. With a few medals at state, Tonganoxie could finish among the state's elite.
"Of course, Ali can place if everything goes well," coach Weller said. "I think Christy's got a good shot and Wagner's got a good shot."