Chieftains embrace roles as ‘underdogs’
Gardner No shock. No awe. No intimidation.
That was the attitude the Chieftains took into the Blazer Invitational, which featured what was likely the deepest field of competition to date for the Tonganoxie High girls, on Friday at Gardner Edgerton.
And that was also the attitude the girls track team left with. Although Class 6A Olathe East won the meet, and 5A Gardner Edgerton was second, THS (4A) finished fourth, just behind Kaw Valley League rival Mill Valley, and won four events.
The Chieftains' 4x800 relay team of Andie Jeannin, Megan Puhr, Katie Chenoweth and Christy Weller finished first, completing the race in 10:28.23, nearly eight seconds ahead of OEHS.
The 4x800 team has been successful throughout the season, and Weller credited assistant coach Bill Shaw with giving the runners some extra pep in their collective steps.
"We work with Mr. Shaw at practice and he's a really good coach. He really motivates us in a positive way so that we'll be successful," Weller said, adding that Shaw continually reminded the runners that they were capable of finishing ahead of the bigger schools at the invitational, which pumped them up even more.
While Weller serves as the anchor runner on the relay team, she quickly deferred the importance of her role when asked about what makes the squad successful.
"It's more my team than anything. I'm just the last leg and they get me out ahead, so all I have to do is keep it," she said. "When I got the baton in the 4x8 I was already in first."
Weller said the most valuable member of the relay team might be Jeannin.
"She has to start it, and that's always, I would think, the hardest because you have to put it all into it," Weller said, before pointing out that the second and third legs are by no means a stroll in the park.
Neither was the Blazer Invitational.
"There weren't a lot of schools, but the schools that were there were big," Weller said, before adding that she and her teammates like that kind of competition.
"It's my favorite track meet," she said. "We're kind of the underdogs. No one kind of expects a lot, so it's cool. You get to go out and show everyone up."
Tracie Hileman did a little of that at the meet as she continued her stellar senior campaign by breaking two school records and accounting for 24 of her team's 106 points.
Hileman's record time of 15.94 in the 100-meter hurdles came in the preliminary before she finished third in the finals with a time of 16.13. She also set a new THS mark in the long jump when she finished third in that event as well with a leap of 17 feet, 1 inch. Hileman finished second in the high jump and fourth in the triple jump.
Sisters Roni, Roxi and Dominique Grizzle finished first, second and fifth respectively in the girls shot put. Roni Grizzle also won the discus with a 104-10 throw, and Roxi Grizzle won the javelin with a throw of 153-7.
Elise Drennan finished fourth in the discus and Chrissie Jeannin was second in the javelin.
More Tonganoxie Girls Results
400-meter 5. Christina Rubio, 1:06.42
800-meter 3. Christy Weller, 2:27.30; 7. Andie Jeannin, 2:37.85
1,600-meter 7. Lauren Hall, 6:22
4x400 relay 2. Andie Jeannin, Christina Rubio, Megan Puhr, Christy Weller, 4:17