Ten Chieftains punch tickets to state track meet
For most track and field athletes across the state, the 2014 season came to an end last week. But, for a handful of Tonganoxie High athletes, the journey will live on for four more days.
Ten Chieftains qualified for this weekend's Class 4A state meet in a regional Friday at Basehor-Linwood. Led by three seniors, the boys and girls squads combined for their largest state haul in three years.
"The kids have been working extremely hard for three months, and it paid dividends for a lot of different people," boys coach Scott Peavey said. "It's going to be a fun group, not only because they're a bunch of talented athletes, but they're a great assortment of personalities."
Ben Johnson will represent the Chieftains in the high jump, triple jump and 110-meter hurdles. Johnson won regional titles in the triple jump (44 feet, .25 inches) and 110-meter hurdles (15.71 seconds), while taking third in the high jump (6-2).
Johnson's mark in the triple jump broke the school record of 43-7 set by Dylan Scates in 2011 and is good for the top seed in this week's state meet at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.
"He's about as pure an athlete as you'll see at any program," Peavey said of Johnson, who joined the team as a junior. "He's just one of those type of talents that, quite frankly, doesn't come around that often. Any time you see him, he just portrays great confidence, and that shows on the track."
Fellow senior Cody Snyder made the state cut in the shot put, finishing second at regionals with a throw of 51-4. Juniors Devan Smith and Brad Andrews are also state-bound in the high jump and pole vault, respectively. Devan Smith took third behind Johnson (6-2), while Andrews took fourth in his event (11-6).
The state meet will be the last event for Peavey, who is leaving Tonganoxie after the season for a job in the Gardner-Edgerton school district.
"I would love to see these kids end up on the medal stand to achieve the goals we were talking about back in January," Peavey said. "That would be a very fulfilling way to end my time here."
On the girls side, senior Haley Griffin will make her fourth state appearance in the high jump. The future Shocker won a regional title Friday with a jump of 5-4. That's good for the third seed, but her jump of 5-8 at the Kaw Valley League meet earlier this season still stands as the state's top mark.
Chanute's Madi Rollins (5-6) had the top 4A regional jump, while Griffin was one of four jumpers to clear 5-4 at regionals. Griffin is seeking a state title after finishing eighth, second and third in her last three tries.
"It'll be a battle, but I think it's going to be a fun event to watch," girls coach Preston Troyer said. "(Griffin) is going to have to be ready to come in and jump her best."
Junior Jessica Minear just made the cut in the triple jump, coming in fourth with a jump of 32-11.5. The 4x800-meter relay team of Emily Chambers, Kourtni Freemyer, Sophia Wetta and Tressa Walker also came in fourth with a time of 10:13.56. The team started the final leg of its regional race in fifth place, but Walker rallied to send the Chieftains to state.
State competition begins at 7:45 a.m. Friday and runs through Saturday evening. Click here for a schedule for local athletes.