Local track and field athletes find success at state
Wichita Track and field athletes from across the state opened state competition Friday at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium, and several local kids guaranteed they'd come home with some hardware.
Baldwin High junior Dayton Valentine, who has been at or near the top of the state shot put ranks all season, capped off the year with a state title. He admitted his winning throw of 52-2.25 wasn't his best, but it was enough to clinch a gold medal and 10 points for the Class 4A Bulldogs..
"This was actually my second-worst mark of the year," Valentine said. "I was a little disappointed with how I threw, but I got first, so that's the main goal."
Fellow BHS junior Katie Kehl also enjoyed some success in throwing events. Kehl won the discus with a distance (137-5) and took second in the in the shot put (44-4).
The gold medal in the discus was the first career state title for Kehl, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury.
"I had a full year of doing nothing, then to bounce back and get first and second, it's pretty awesome," Kehl said.
Tonganoxie High picked up a pair of medals in the girls high jump, as junior Jenny Whitledge and sophomore Haley Griffin finished first and second, respectively. Whitledge won the event with a jump of 5-4, while Griffin came in at 5-2.
It was the second straight 4A state title for Whitledge, who won last year's event with the same height.
"There was definitely a lot more pressure because you have to back it up since you got it last year," Whitledge said. "There were a lot of girls this year that were really good, and it kind of made me nervous there towards the end."
Mill Valley junior Emily Bingham earned two medals and racked up 18 points for the 5A Jaguars, winning the long jump (19-3) and taking second in the pole vault (11-6). MVHS senior Parker Brush also made some noise in the pole vault, taking second on the boys side (14-6).
Class 4A schools De Soto and St. James Academy each had one medalist in Friday's competition — each in the 3,200-meter run. De Soto junior Angel Vasquez won the boys race (9:38.87) and St. James junior Alexa VanLerberg took third in the girls race (11:39.4).
Action will resume Saturday with field events at 8 a.m. and running events at 8:30 a.m.