Steimel, Kinser get first golds of 2013
By BRETT MARSHALL
WICHITA — One down, one to go.
That's the way Stanton County's Mauri Steimel was looking at it Friday afternoon, when she captured the Class 2A state discus title with a throw of 118-9.
And it's also the way Nicole Kinser of Hugoton saw it in the closing moments of the first day when she captured her third Class 4A triple jump in four years, with a leap of 37-03.75, just 1.75 inches ahead of Taylor Soucie of Osawatomie, who nearly overtook Kinser on the last jump of the event.
Steimel, second in that event in 2012, now will have a chance to defend her 2A shot put title today when she goes in her favorite, and most likely, best event.
Her winning mark came on her second throw in the preliminaries, and two other times she hit over 118 feet, but it was well below her season best of 122-03.
"I made a good one (throw), but I didn't really feel that great," Steimel said. "I just tried my hardest, and it was good enough."
Erin Alexander of Washington County was a distant second at 116-01.
Now, Steimel can put her focus on the shot put, where she enters with the best mark in 2A at 42-04.
"I'll be excited tonight and for tomorrow," Steimel said. "I see them as two totally different events, so I'll just come back and be ready for the shot put."
The Lady Trojan senior said she still felt as though she could throw better, but was off on the final portion of her throw.
"I think the footwork was good, but the ending wasn't," Steimel said.
For Kinser, the victory paved the way for her to try and win a second gold today in the long jump, where she will defend her 2012 title. She has won at least one gold each of her three years, and now would like nothing better than to make it 2-for-2 in her senior season.
"I feel very good, but I almost had a panic attack when she came within an inch of me," a relieved Kinser said. "I may not have won it all four years, but it feels great to win it my last time. Now I can just go out and have some fun tomorrow. It takes the pressure off."
Cimarron's Eva Koopman, who had come in as a heavy favorite in the Class 3A girls high jump, struggled from the outset and cleared 5-04 to finish second to Meagan Garrett of Sabetha, who also cleared 5-04, but won on fewer misses.
It was a big disappointment for Koopman, who along with her sister, Isabelle, and her parents will be moving back to the Netherlands next week after attending the Cimarron schools for the past three years.
"Everything just seemed really hard today," said Koopman, choking back tears. "I was worried about getting over to the hurdles (100-meter low prelims). I missed my first jump (5-00) and that just put me in a bad mood."
After clearing 5-00, she then cleared 5-02 on her first try and 5-04 on her third attempt. She nearly cleared 5-06 on her second jump.
"I felt good at 5-02 and 5-04, but maybe I just put too much pressure on myself and wanted to end the year on a really good note," Koopman said.
Dighton junior Leslie Speer was unable to defend her Class 1A triple jump title, coming within one inch of her winning effort in 2012, soaring 35-04.50, finishing well back of champion Carly Heim of Hoxie (36-05) and not far behind runner-up Briley Ware of Dexter (35-07).
"I'm a little disappointed, but we haven't had much good weather to train in, so I just never felt like I was improving much over last year," Speer said. "I think I just wasn't stretching it enough in the second phase to get me out far enough."
Wichita County junior Katie Bailey enjoyed her best moment of her high school track career with a third-place effort in the Class 2A javelin after throwing a personal best 117-08.
"I usually get so nervous," an excited Bailey said after receiving her medal. "I'm a real head case sometimes."
Bailey, who came to the state meet a year ago ranked fifth and didn't place, said she just found a way.
"It was my first throw, and then my throws just got worse. This feels great no matter what," she said.
Another Wichita Countian, senior Paige Wells, ran by far her fastest time of the year in taking fourth in the 2A 3,200-meters, an event she admittedly doesn't like.
"I was trying to set a pace for 12 minutes, and I looked up at the clock and thought, 'oh wow!'" Wells said. "I never really trained for this all year, but the atmosphere really helped, and now that I've run a good time (11:46.41), I feel good about (Saturday)."
Wells, headed to Wichita State University to run next year, will have the 800- and 1,600-meter runs today and is still in search of her first state gold in track. She will see her nemesis, Jenna Farris of Lincoln, in the 1,600, where the two clashed in a photo-finish in 2012, with Farris winning by a mere .06 of a second.
"It's mind over matter for me, but I really felt strong today," Wells said. "I'm more excited about the two events tomorrow than I've been for some time."
Lakin's Kara Simmons and Cimarron's Morgan Ediger had the top two qualifying times in the 3A girls 300-meter hurdles, with Simmons running a 47.07 while Ediger was not far behind in winning the other heat in 47.55.
"I felt pretty nervous at the start until I hit a hurdle, and then I just told myself to go out and attack," Simmons said. "I'm always a better finisher, and the nerves usually get me in the middle. I'm excited to run next to Morgan tomorrow. I think we both run better when we know where the other one is."
Scott City's Kelly Wycoff, who came in with the fastest 200-meter time in the state, qualified for today's final with a 26.17 that was run into a moderate wind, thus slowing times. She also qualified for the 400 meters, an event she finished second in a year ago, but struggled to a 1:00.42 to finish sixth in the prelims. She will run the 100 prelims first thing today, also an event where she was runner-up in 2012.
"I'm just feeling better in the 200. It's always been the better race for me," Wycoff said. "The 400 seems to be giving me trouble. I think it's just mind games right now, and I've got to work through it. I think it will be better tomorrow."
Wycoff also anchored the 4x400-meter relay team that qualified with a 4:13.47. Ulysses' girls also qualified in the Class 4A girls 4x400-meter with a season-best time of 4:08.11, placing them third into the finals.
The Lady Tigers' Jessi Arnold qualified in the fourth spot in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 47.17.
Satanta's 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams each qualified for the finals while Dighton's girls made it in the 4x100 with a 52.07 clocking. The Lady Hornets' Dakota Hoffman reached the 400 finals with a time of 1:00.42.