Local track and field athletes vying for state medals
After earning several medals and top finishes throughout the 2012 track and field season, 10 local athletes will try their luck against the state's toughest competition in the state championships, set for Friday and Saturday at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.
Six athletes from Tonganoxie High and four from McLouth High qualified for this year's state meet by placing in the top four in their respective events at last week's regional meets. The Chieftains were in Class 4A action at Baker University's Liston Stadium in Baldwin City, while the Bulldogs were in 3A action at Sabetha High School.
Friday's competition will begin at 7:45 a.m. and Saturday's competition will begin at 8 a.m. Check The Mirror's website and Facebook page for updates throughout the meet.
Here is a rundown of how each local athlete qualified for the state meet:
Junior Jenny Whitledge (Tonganoxie)
Whitledge made the state cut in four events — all in which she holds the current THS records. She took home a pair of gold medals at regionals, winning the 300-meter hurdles (47.28) and the high jump (5-4), but she arguably had her best outing in the long jump. She took second in the event to Piper's Tahje' Ochs with a jump of 17-8.5, shattering her own school record of 17-2. She also claimed fourth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.76 seconds.
Whitledge is tied for the best Class 4A qualifying height in the high jump, in which she won last year's state title. She ranks second in the long jump, eighth in the 300-meter hurdles and 13th in the 100-meter dash.
Sophomore Haley Griffin (Tonganoxie)
Griffin has finished alongside Whitledge at the top of the high jump ranks all season. The duo tied at last week's regional, but Griffin had more misses at a previous height, so the title went to Whitledge. Griffin is also tied with Whitledge for the state's highest qualifying height in Class 4A. She took eighth in the high jump as a freshman in last year's state meet.
Freshman Jackie Whitledge (Tonganoxie)
Jenny Whitledge won't only be competing against a teammate in the long jump, but also a member of her own family. Jackie Whitledge tied Jenny's previous school record with a leap of 17-2 at regionals. That mark ranks fourth among state qualifiers. Jackie is one of just two freshmen in the Class 4A state field for the event.
Senior Dylan Jacobs (Tonganoxie)
Jacobs is the THS boys' only returning state qualifier from a year ago. He took second in the high jump with a height of 5-10 at last week's regional, but he has eclipsed the six-foot mark on multiple occasions this season. He ranks 14th among Class 4A state qualifiers and will look to improve on last year's 15th-place finish.
Senior Patrick Rachford (Tonganoxie)
Rachford, a key contributor to the Chieftains' success in distance events, cracked the state field with a third-place regional finish in the 3,200-meter run (10:28.66). He also earned several medals this season in the 1,600-meter run and as a member of the 4x800-meter relay team. Rachford ranks 13th among Class 4A state qualifiers in the 3,200.
Senior Tyler Stockman (Tonganoxie)
Stockman recently signed to throw collegiately at Emporia State University, but hopes to wrap up his high school career with a state medal. He missed the state field last year, but finished second in the discus with a toss of 158-10 at regionals. That mark ranks third among Class 4A qualifiers.
Freshman Summer Cerny (McLouth)
Cerny is the MHS girls' only state qualifier this year. She finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.67 at last week's regional meet. She barely missed the cut in the 300-meter hurdles, finishing fifth by less than one half of a second. Cerny ranks 14th among Class 3A qualifiers in the 100-meter hurdles and is one of just three freshmen in the field.
Junior Dakota Cop (McLouth)
Cop has finished at or near the top of the triple jump standings all season. He recently took fourth in the event at regionals to earn his first trip to the state meet. His distance of 41-4.25 ranks 13th among Class 3A qualifiers.
Junior Marc Walbridge (McLouth)
Walbridge has been a big part of the Bulldogs' distance competition this season. He won the 1,600-meter run at last week's regional with a time of 4:56.5. That places him 11th in the event among Class 3A opponents.
Senior Hunter Koch (McLouth)
Koch is the lone MHS senior in this year's state field. He took fourth in the 110-meter hurdles at regionals with a time of 15.74 seconds. That mark ranks 13th among hurdlers in the Class 3A state field.