Youth wins 200-meter dash event in Emporia
Conner Kietzmann doesn't know if he qualified for the Hershey's Track and Field Games national meet on Aug. 4 in Hershey, Pa.
He does know he did all he could on June 22 in Emporia to garner such an invitation.
The Hershey's Track and Field Games, in its 30th year, is offered in every state for boys and girls ages 9 to 14. Two meets precede the national meet: A local and a state meet.
Kietzmann, 12, first participated in the local Tonganoxie Hershey's track meet at Tonganoxie High School's Beatty Field. The top two competitors from each age group advanced to the June 22 state meet in Emporia.
Kietzmann won the 200-meter dash in Emporia with a time of 29.34 seconds. He didn't win by much, though. In fact, he only won by one hundredth of a second. Tyler Hillman, of Cheney, finished behind Kietzmann at 29.35.
"When I leaned at the very end, that won it," said Kietzmann, who will attend Tonganoxie Middle School in the fall. "I knew he was really close to me, but I'm just telling my body, 'Don't quit. There's no more races after this, so you can rest.'"
Now, Kietzmann has to play the waiting game. He said he would expect a call, which will notify him if he's eligible for the national meet, around Friday.
A selection committee compares first-place finishers of state meets from various regions. Kietzmann is in Region 5, which includes Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It also includes two Canadian provinces: Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Kietzmann has competed in the Hershey's event for four years. He made it to nationals once, when he was 10. He placed fourth in the 400-yard dash that year in 2005.
"I think I have a pretty good shot," Kietzmann said of being selected for nationals. "My (state) time this year in the 200 would have gotten me second last year at the national meet."
Kietzmann also participated in the 400-yard dash and the long jump last month in Emporia. He placed third in the 400 (1 minute, 8.60 seconds) and 16th in the long jump (6 feet, 3.50 inches).
Kietzmann's sister, Brenna, also competed with him at the state meet. Brenna finished sixth in the 400 (1:19.25). She beat her personal-best time in the 400 by five seconds. Brenna also ran in the 200.
An interesting scenario with Brenna occurred at the local Tonganoxie meet. Because there were no other girls competing in the 200 or 400, she lined up against her brother.
"I've never beat him," Brenna said about Conner. "I was very nervous, but I did beat two boys. Conner helps me out. At the end, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Good job.'"
Brenna, 10, competed in her second Hershey's track meet this year.
Another Tonganoxie athlete who did well in Emporia was Jared Sommers. The 10-year-old, who attends school at Genesis Christian Academy, placed first in the softball throw, second in the 400-yard dash and third in the 200-yard dash.
"I didn't really practice," Sommers said about his first-place softball toss of 131 feet, 1 inch. "In track and field, I usually do the long jump."
Remarkably, Sommers accumulated three medals with strep throat.
"After the meet, I asked him how he felt," Dawn Sommers, Jared's mother, said. "He said, 'I can't feel my arms or legs.'"
Sommers said he was glad he still competed. In fact, he said his throat felt fine after the meet.
This year was his second state Hershey track meet. He placed second in the 200 and fifth in the 100 last year.
The following is a list of how Tonganoxie participants finished in the June 22 state meet in Emporia:
Girls 9-10 standing long jump: 10. Kameron Robbins, 5'08.00". 12. Brynlee Robbins, 5'05.50"
Boys 9-10 200-meter dash: 3. Jared Sommers, 0:31.41
Boys 9-10 400-meter dash: 2. Jared Sommers, 1:13.68. 14. Sinjan Gergick, 1:22.96
Boys 9-10 standing long jump: 4. Asher Huseman, 6'02.00"
Boys 9-10 50-meter dash: 5. Asher Huseman, 0:07.78
Girls 11-12 400-meter dash: 6. Brenna Kietzmann, 1:19.25
Girls 11-12 softball throw: 17. Lauren Harrell, 77'09.50"
Girls 11-12 standing long jump: 16. Lauren Harrell, 4'11.00"
Boys 11-12 standing long jump: 16. Conner Kietzmann, 6'03.50"
Boys 11-12 softball throw: 17. Zeke Kissinger, 116'11.50"
Boys 11-12 400-meter dash: 3. Conner Kietzmann, 1:08.06
Boys 11-12 200-meter dash: 1. Conner Kietzmann, 0:29.34
Girls 13-14 standing long jump: 8. Shea Nicolay, 6'10.00"
Girls 13-14 800-meter run: 8. Gabby Janssen, 3:07.90
Girls 13-14 200-meter dash: 8. Shea Nicolay, 0:31.65
Girls 13-14 100-meter dash: 5. Shea Nicolay, 0:14.28
Boys 13-14 standing long jump: 8. Wes Williams, 7'00.75
Boys 13-14 softball throw: 11. Luke Faherty, 114'03.50"