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SPOTLIGHT
Pfeifer nabs gold for Ellis

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Pfeifer nabs gold for Ellis

Published on -6/1/2014, 9:04 PM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

WICHITA -- Ellis junior Jared Pfeifer went a career-best 21 feet, 1 inch at the season-opening Ellis Invitational, a mark that held up as Class 2A's best jump until the final two weeks of the season. But Pfeifer encountered a tough spring and had jumpers' knee, or patellar tendonitis. Pfeifer didn't get a brace until regionals, which helped support the knee.

Pfeifer qualified third from the Smith Center regional and ninth overall when he went 20-2.5 last week. On Friday, Pfeifer went 20-10.75 on his first jump, a leap that eventually earned the state title at the Class 2A state track meet at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium. It was Pfeifer's second state title of his career; he was the lead leg on the 400-meter relay as a freshman.

"The hard work, everything really paid off as I worked through the season," Pfeifer said.

While some jumpers had trouble running preliminary heats and then jumping on a day when the temperatures climbed into the 80s and 90s, Pfeifer used the prelims to his benefit. He qualified seventh in the 110-meter hurdles and then helped the Railroaders qualify eighth in the 400-meter relay.

"I was also warmed up from the 4x1," Pfeifer said. "Just getting loose and warmed up properly was the main key."

The field was close with the top-nine seeds separated by 10 inches. But because of the injury, Pfeifer didn't consider himself a favorite. When he hit the big first jump, Pfeifer knew it put him in contention.

"I didn't know if it was going to win since there was still other kids jumping," Pfeifer said.

Valley Falls senior Max Badgett went 20-10.25 on his first jump to move within a half inch, but no one was closer. Just 4.25 inches separated the top five jumpers. Ellis senior Landon Younger, who was a surprise state qualifier, continued an impressive run with a sixth-place finish in the pole vault. Younger, a first-time state qualifier, went a personal best 12-6.

Rogge earns crown

Last week, Winona-Triplains junior Shayna Rogge, Hoxie junior Carly Heim and Otis-Bison freshman Taylor Regan engaged in a terrific triple jumping competition at the Class 1A Fort Hays State University regional. Rogge won with a school mark of 36-2. All three jumpers went at least 35-3 and had the top three seeds entering state.

After the first round of jumping Friday at state, the three jumpers were 1-2-3 -- with just 1.25 inches separating.

Rogge went 34-8.75 and Heim and Regan tied at 34-7.5.

On the next jump, Rogge lept 35-8.25, the second-best mark of her season - and a leap that won her first state crown.

"I knew they could throw a good one, so I just wanted to get a good lead," Rogge said. "Thankfully, I did."

Regan never improved on her opening mark and eventually took fourth after Rolla junior Katie Murray leaped 34-8.25 on her third attempt.

"I knew it was going to be tough from the beginning, but I didn't know I was going to have to work that hard," Rogge said. "They kept me on my toes."

Heim, the defending state champion, pulled within a quarter inch at 35-8 on her fifth jump, but fouled on her last attempt. Rogge had never beaten Heim before the last two weeks.

"It's pretty awesome," Rogge, said wearing a big smile. "I am pretty excited. ... I have been waiting for a first forever. Finally got it."

Moeder takes second, third

Last year, La Crosse senior Lucas Moeder had one of the most memorable moments at the state meet when he ran a leg of the 1,600 relay, ran over to javelin and then uncorked a career-best toss of 194-8 on his first attempt to win the state meet.

This spring, Moeder again had to run in the relay and throw javelin at the same time. This year, Moeder finished third at 173-4.

"Last year, it worked out for me coming over from the 400," Moeder said. "A lot of adrenaline, but it didn't work out this year, and nothing you can do about it now."

Southern Coffey County senior Aaron True broke the previous 1A record of 195-7 when he threw 202 feet on his fifth attempt.

Moeder took runner-up in the discus with a first-attempt throw of 151-3.

"I was lucky to get a really good throw early, and that took a lot of pressure off," Moeder said. "Ended up getting second, so some much needed points for the team there."

After the first three throws, Moeder and True were the only competitors to make finals -- and run in the relay. Moeder left at 5:40 p.m., 45 minutes before the relay was scheduled to start. True stayed, and made his fourth and fifth throw before leaving.

"That's just a team thing," Moeder said. "We are always together quite a bit before our event starts, warming up. With what happened last year, it wasn't a big deal for me to go over there and warmup with my team. They needed me more than anyone."

Moeder came back and made his final three throws with little rest.

"The conditions were perfect, the stage was perfect, and my throws were not perfect," Moeder said.

Moeder and an eighth-place showing from junior Sheldon Schmidt in the discus were the lone bright spots Friday for the two-time defending champions. La Crosse was disqualified in the 400 relay, didn't score in the long jump and the 1,600 relay was the lone track event that qualified for finals, but sat in eighth. La Crosse finished Day 1 in fifth with 15 points.

"Anything is possible, because it is still really early," Moeder said. "Not a great first day for us as far as relays go."

Schemms 2-4 in high jump

Wallace County sophomore Luke Schemm was the defending state runner-up and had cleared 6-7.25, the second-best mark in Class 1A, according to historian Carol Swenson. But Schemm had plenty of trouble at his opening height of 5-10.

Schemm missed the first two times. On his third attempt, Schemm ran up to the bar, but decided not to jump at the last second. He had a short amount of time left, re-calibrated, then cleared the height.

His brother, senior Clay Schemm, stood a few feet away, pumped his fist and let out a big sigh of relief when Luke cleared.

Luke Schemm struggled all day, but the brothers both cleared 6-4. Ashland sophomore Kole Konrade won at 6-8. Clay finished second and tied his season best, Luke fourth on misses.

"I never really had my steps on for today, and that really hurt me in the long run," Luke Schemm said. "The whole day I didn't feel like they were on, and that's what killed me today. I would have rather gotten a PR with 6-8, but you can't have your best day everyday."

The Schemms, key players on Wallace County's state runner-up teams in football and basketball, talked to each other often throughout the competition. Every time Luke cleared a height, Clay pumped his fist. Clay normally stood close by the bar when his brother jumped. The two have high jumped since sixth grade.

"It's been probably one of the best experiences of my life of getting able to play with him in high school and jump alongside him and see him go past me and jump so much higher than I can," Clay said. "Whenever we can, we coach each other up, watch each other's approach and try to work things out, so then we can make each other better."

Smith Center junior L.T. Meitler and his brother, Kaden, a freshman, went 3-4 in the 2A pole vault. Kaden Meitler, one of two freshmen in the field and the only one to place, cleared 12-6. Meitler was the last vaulter left and had a chance to win at 13-6, but missed. He went 13-0 and took third on misses.

Tustin shatters school mark

Wheatland-Grinnell junior Taylor Tustin was "extremely worried" about the heat late Friday afternoon. She ran the 1,600 relay prelims and then came back for the Class 1A 3,200 run an hour later. Her legs were "feeling like jello" in a warmup run around the infield. Then, Tustin saw some of the competitors that she knew running around, too.

"You know what, if they are going to be able to do this, I can do this, too," Tustin said. "I can't let that other race affect me. I went out and did another lap around, and I was like, 'OK, I am good now.'"

Tustin, a two-time state cross country runner-up, earned the first individual track medal of her career with a third place finish. Tustin ran a 12:04.70, 24 seconds better than her personal best and 22 seconds ahead of the school mark.

"That was a great feeling," Tustin said. "It's unbelievable. I walked across and saw my time, and was more shocked than I was to actually get here. For never running the two-mile competitively in all my years, I am more than happy with this."

Tustin started off slowly and ran just 2:48 through the first 800 and found herself in a virtual tie for eighth place. Then, Tustin turned in five straight laps between 1:31 and 1:37. On her final lap, Tustin posted a 1:22, the field's best final lap by nearly two seconds. She came nearly eight seconds behind St. Paul sophomore Jenny O'Bryan, the heavy favorite.

"Some people were coming up behind me," Tustin said. "I am like, 'You know what, I am not going to drop back.' I hate when people pass me up from behind. I am like, 'I am not going to drop back. I am going to pick it up.' I just kind of did it. It was kind of about lap five and six - 'I was like OK, I got to go.'"

Other notable performances

Stockton freshman Kian Coffey came in with a season-best of 42-10.5, but went 44-2 to take second in the triple jump behind Valley Heights junior standout Elijah Smith (45-10.25). Victoria senior Connor Gagnon took third in the long jump, an event Smith also won.

Gagnon entered with a season-best mark of 21-9.25, second in 1A to Smith. But Gagnon struggled and went just 20-7.75 to take bronze, his second state medal in the event. Smith won in 21-10.75, behind his season best of 22-4.5. Gagnon was very disappointed after the meet, even saying he "choked." Smith and Gagnon were two of many jumpers who had off days.

"That's not how I wanted to finish," Gagnon said. "I wish I could have done my best overall, but I guess that's the way it goes."

Ness City senior Dray Carson took second in the 2A 3,200 (9:32), while Eagle senior Jessie Rubottom finished third on the girls' side in 11:59.

Natoma junior Kourtney Grafel earned her third state medal in the 1A high jump with a fifth-place finish (5-0).

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