Tucker keeps trucking





WICHITA — It was a day of the expected and the surprising at Cessna Stadium on day one of the all-class state track and field meet.

Holcomb's Heath Tucker wanted to leave his mark on Wichita.

The recent graduate qualified for the finals in three events Friday afternoon, including the 300-meter hurdles, in which he is the defending 3A champion, and watched a quartet of teammates take a step towards a state title.

Tucker qualified with the best time in that event, 39.45 seconds

"The 300s were pretty good. My blocks were a little off, but I just tried to get my steps right and get good, clean jumps, so it ended up pretty good," he said.

Tucker was ahead most of the race and had just one hard hurdle hit near the end, but not enough to slow him down much.

"I was hoping for a 38, but 39.3 is all right," he said.

His qualifying time gives him lane four for today's finals, a position he can use to his advantage.

"I'll just go out and run my race, and it should be all right," he said. "If they start contesting, I'll just start putting a little more into it."

To defend his title would be the best way to go out, he added. Anything less after last year's win would seem like a let down.

Tucker earlier qualified third in the 110-meter hurdles in 15.40 seconds.

"I tried to run a clean race and get through it, but it wasn't very clean. I hit a lot of hurdles. The wind kind of got in my face," he said. "But I made the finals, and I'm happy with that."

Shortly after the 300 qualifying race, he qualified fifth in the 200 meters in 23.00. More time between events today should work to his advantage as far as recovery time.

He also has the long jump today, a new event for him this year.

Shortly after Tucker finished qualifying in his third event, the Holcomb 4x400 relay team recorded the fastest qualifying time of 3:30.11 to set up a title defense from last year, even though all four runners are new to the group.

Zeke Silva handed off to Taylor Chelemedos in first. Blake Flores ran the third leg just behind the leader, and Logan Flores passed a Wichita Collegiate runner on the first turn, and led to the finish.

On the girls side, one of the better finishes in 3-2-1A on Friday came from a pair of "newbies."

Lakin's Kaylee Line and Robin Ritsema experienced success in their first state meet.

The duo went 2-3 in the 3A high jump.

Ritsema cleared 5-0 and Line 5-4. Both cleared their first three jumps on their first tries.

At 5-2, Line cleared on her final attempt to stay alive.

At 5-4, she waited until her final jump to clear, this time with the crowd cheering on the competitor in the venue next to her. She said she used that to her advantage.

"I heard it, and I used it," she said. "It helped a lot."

Her final attempt at 5-2 was touchy, she said.

"I was scared I wasn't going to make it," the freshman said. "But I told myself I've already done this — I've done it all year, so I'm going to do it."

The first two jumps at 5-6, she said, she felt good, but the final one not.

"It was hard," she said.

Ritsema said the state experience was fun, but she was disappointed in not going over 5-0.

"I was hoping for 5-2 because I got that last week (at regionals), and I was thinking I'd PR because of the people here and the adrenaline pumping," the sophomore said.

It might have been in her head, she said, but it gives her incentive for next year.

South Gray's Jake Peters turned in one of the top performances in the 2A shot put, placing second with a throw of 52-04.

The junior will defend his title in the discus today.

Katie Murray of Rolla was third in the triple jump at 34-08.25, a foot out of first. She redeemed herself in the high jump, finishing first at 5-6.

Syracuse's Mia Wilson finished third in the triple jump, going 34-09.75. OK, but disappointing, the senior said.

"I was expecting to get first, because my jumps have been a lot better than what I was jumping today," Wilson said.

She said she probably just wasn't ready to jump Friday, and the competition was good this year.

Her best jump came on the second prelim jump, and she got to jump when the temperature had dropped and conditions were better.

Today she competes in the long jump, and she said she got her nerves out of the way and feels good.

Morgan Ediger pole vaulted her best of the year, jumping 10-0 and finishing in a three-way tie for third.

Freshman Jordan Speer of Dighton placed third in the 1A shot put with a throw of 37-7, just 3 feet short of first.

Kaisha Batman of Ingalls medalled seventh in the triple jump.

Rebeca Avelar finished fourth and Jenna Black seventh to highlight a Stanton County showing in the 3,200 meters.

Ty Clarke of Cimarron finished fourth in the 3A high jump at 6-2.

Teammate Isaac Stanley finished seventh in the 3,200 meters.

Ben Speer of Dighton was fourth in the 1A discus (149-09).

Lamontae Heady of Ingalls finished fifth in the high jump, going 6-2.

Jacob Schumacher of Wichita County qualified seventh in the 200 meters (23.78 seconds).

Besides prelims today in the 100-meter dash, a number of area competitors qualified Friday for finals today.

Qualifying in the 4x100 relay were the Sublette and Deerfield boys.

Qualifying in the 400 meters were Kari Blattner of Cimarron, Brook Briggs of Sublette, Marc Skipper of Deerfield and Lance Edmondson of Ingalls.

Kaitlyn Dobie of Moscow qualified in the 300 hurdles, as did Ryan Griebel of South Gray, who ran the fastest time in 2A (40.74 seconds).

Qualifier in the 200 was Vallie Kenfield of Wichita County.

The Satanta and Wichita County boys both qualified in the 4x400 meters.

Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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