Elite tracksters ride wind to the top of gusting Scott City Relays
By BRETT MARSHALL
By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — Make no mistake about the effect weather, especially wind and cold, can have on the results of a high school track meet.
That was never more evident than Tuesday when 18 teams from western Kansas competed at the annual Scott City Relays, and the contestants had to deal with 25-35 mph wind conditions.
The only thing that made it manageable was a temperature that hovered around the mid 70s during the afternoon, following a breezy morning when the temperature was in the high 50s.
And while the conditions kept times and most marks from being what the competitors and coaches would like to see near the mid-point of the spring season, the best athletes seemed to still dominate their respective events.
Team honors went to the Ulysses girls, who scored 109 points to runner-up Colby's 96 in the Class 3-4A division; Wheatland-Grinnell's girls won the Class 1-2A division with 101 points, while Wichita County was second with 91 points. On the boys side, Wichita County came up with a big day, scoring 184 points to easily outdistance runner-up Hoxie's 114 points in the 1-2A division while Phillipsburg's 133 points was good enough to dethrone Ulysses' boys, who were second with 109 points.
Scott City sprinter Kelly Wycoff took gold in her three specialty races — the 100 meters (13.68), 200 meters (27.59) and the 400 meters (1:00.9). Ulysses' Jessi Arnold was rock solid in the 300-meter hurdles (47.86), an especially strong time considering the final 150 meters was run into the teeth of the southerly wind. Her Lady Tigers' teammate, Chisholm Branscum, was a double-gold performer in capturing the 800 (2:30.18) and the 1,600 (5:43.66).
Wichita County's boys produced two individual champions in Joshua Mehl (400-meters, 54.24) and Gabe Fletcher in the 300-meter hurdles (44.98), and then won the 4x800-meter relay with a time of 8:47.49.
Ulysses' Lady Tigers also got winning performances from their 4x400-meter (4:25.63) and 4x100-meter (52.82) relay teams, with Arnold anchoring both to the gold-medal finish. Ashlin Bohl and Morgan Price provided the winning marks in the field events for coach Kyle Shryock's squad, earning marks of 8-00 in the pole vault for Bohl and 16-04.50 for Price in the long jump.
For Wycoff, the day produced a mix of emotions for the 2013 Class 3A 100- and 200-meter state champ and the runner-up in the 400. Now in Class 4A for her senior season, Wycoff is looking to produce times in the final half of the season so she can return to Wichita State at the end of May and battle the new list of opponents in her three races.
"My 400 is strongest right now," Wycoff said after she held off Arnold in the 200-meters (Arnold ran a 27.81) to claim her third win of the day. "Now, I've just got to start working on my starts in the 100 and 200. I think that's why they've been shy on times so far."
But Wycoff, who is still undecided on where she will attend college next season, said she usually peaks late.
"I just want to take care of my times and improve so I can do well at state," Wycoff said. "All my personal bests have usually come at the end of the season."
For a change of pace, Wycoff competed in the long jump where she placed third with a leap of 15-10 in her first-ever competition in the event. She did that in lieu of the 4x400-meter relay.
"I had fun with it, and I think it's something I hope I can do again," Wycoff said. "I think I can get better with a little more practice."
Ulysses' Branscum, also a senior and one of the top distance runners in southwest Kansas, was pleased with her efforts in the difficult conditions.
"My mile felt the best, that's when I was fresh," Branscum said. "Both were tough today with the wind. The mile is so mental for me and the 800 is just guts. I'm excited to see where I'm at right now. It's a great start to my senior season, and I'm hoping to keep getting better."
Wycoff's senior teammate, Bailey Nickel, captured the 100-meter hurdles with a mark of 17.31, again running into that south wall of wind.
"My steps are really starting to get better, smoothing out," Nickel said. "I'm getting better and my trail leg is getting higher. The wind really hits you at the end of the bleachers and that last 20 to 30 meters is so hard."
In Class 1-2A, the brother-sister duo of Ben and Jordan Speer of Dighton were double winners, with each capturing the shot put and discus in their respective divisions.
Ben, a senior, won his events with throws of 148-08 in the discuss and 42-11 in the shot put while Jordan, a freshman, won her events with throws of 95-00 in the discus and 36-05 in the shot put.
"It was a lot nicer this morning and we had a nice breeze, not too much wind," Ben said of his two wins. "I've been working and improving. I'm just trying to better myself. I feel like I'm going uphill. The discus is definitely better right now. I'm not so bad in the shot put, but I think the discus is going better."
His younger sister, though, was equally happy with her double-gold effort,
"It's nice to do track with your brother, but I wish I could have competed with my (older) sister Leslie," said the younger Speer. "I like the shot put better. It seems a better fit for me right now. I'd like to get to 40-feet by the end of the season and I want to get into the low 100s with the discus. I definitely need to get my form down better. He (Ben) tells me to go through the ring quicker on the last step, so he does help."
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.