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Otis-Bison's Hoffman gets his crown, times three

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

WICHITA -- Otis-Bison High School's Jordan Hoffman followed his usual strategy of coming from behind to win races. On Saturday, it yielded perfection and redemption for the Cougar senior.

Hoffman rallied to win gold in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes at the Class 1A state track meet Saturday at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.

Last year, Hoffman was supposed to match up with then-La Crosse senior Levi Morss in all three sprinting events. Instead, Hoffman suffered a groin injury, finished fifth in the 100 and couldn't run in the 200 and 400 finals.

"Coming back here, getting on that podium three times for that gold medal, it feels great," Hoffman said.

This spring, Hoffman was still banged up, including light blue kinesio tape on his right shin at state. Hoffman missed some time early, but every meet, he thought about getting on the top step of the podium at state.

"I feel like I am the kid that's going to go back up there and actually win one," Hoffman said.

Hoffman is believed to be the first Cougar, boy or girl, to ever win an individual state track and field championship.

"It feels pretty good going down in school history for that," Hoffman said.

In the 100, Hoffman had his usual slow start and then exploded in the second half of the race to win in 11.25 seconds by .12 seconds over Linn junior Kurt Van der Merwe. In the 400, Osborne senior Boone Cady had a big lead, but Hoffman gained in the final 200 meters.

"About halfway through the homestretch, I said, 'I don't know if I can catch this guy; but right toward the end, I saw that he slowed down, I just picked it up a little bit more, and I got him," Hoffman said.

At the end, Cady lunged for the line, but Hoffman won in 49.72 to 49.74.

"He had that big lead," Hoffman said. "I am so happy that I got him."

In the 200, Hoffman was even with the leaders coming out of the curve, but then pulled away to win in 22.28, .23 seconds in front of Van der Merwe.

"I felt confident in the 200," Hoffman said.

Tustin leads Thunderhawks

Wheatland-Grinnell entered the 1A girls' 3,200 relay on Saturday with the No. 1 seed after a runner-up showing last year.

But Macksville, seeded tenth, led virtually the entire race. On the final leg, Thunderhawk junior Taylor Tustin was seven seconds behind Macksville.

Tustin passed Mustang senior Anna Penner in the final 100 meters and led Wheatland-Grinnell to a title in 10:20.06, nearly five seconds ahead of Macksville.

Tustin ran a 2:25 final leg, a time that surprised herself. Tustin hadn't broken 2:30 in the 800 this year.

"I was just trying to catch her," Tustin said. "I knew we were ranked ahead of them in the beginning, and I knew there was a reason that they were behind us. I felt like we were just meant to be there. If we are ranked ahead of them, I should be able to catch her."

Tustin, who broke the school record in the 3,200 (12:04) en route to a third-place showing Friday night, won the 1,600 after the relay.

Tustin, seeded sixth in the 1,600, led virtually from the start and set a new career-best in 5:26.84, almost 10 seconds ahead of her previous best and also a new school mark. On the boys' side, Hoxie won the 3,200 relay (8:26.45), and Osborne boys won the 1,600 relay (3:26.77).

"I was really pleased that she came out and decided that 'I can do this,'" Wheatland-Grinnell coach Ed Mense said. "I think the 4x8 just fueled her, and I think the 4x8 was fueled by her (3,200). She did so well in the first race that it made her just want it more."

The relay marked the first state crown for all four Thunderhawks: Tustin, junior Lacey Ostmeyer, freshman Brooke Bixenman and sophomore Kirsten Zerr. Tustin and Ostmeyer had run on the relay the last three years.

"It's just an awesome experience," Ostmeyer said.

Officials gave Wheatland-Grinnell, who was supposed to be in lane 4, and Hanover, supposed to lane 1 and seeded near the bottom, the wrong hip numbers.

Ostmeyer started out quickly from lane 1 and had the first lap lead in 72 seconds, but finished in 2:35, five seconds behind Macksville.

"Last year, I remember in the open 800, getting boxed in," Ostmeyer said. "I definitely didn't want to deal with that this year."

At the 1,600 mark, Macksville had a 10-second lead. Zerr closed it to seven seconds when she handed off to Tustin.

"I was nervous, but then 10 minutes before it started, I was really excited," Zerr said. "All the nerves were gone. I was just excited to run."

Tustin ran a blistering 1:08 on her first lap and closed to within three seconds. Tustin passed Penner coming out of the final curve as the fans on the homestretch rose to their feet.

"I knew I had to catch her," Tustin said. "... I could hear the screaming, but I could hear no one in particular. It was just kind of a blur."

Reed, See share moment in pole vault

St. Francis junior Dallas Reed and Weskan junior Robyn See are longtime good friends. They compete against each other at virtually every meet throughout the spring.

On Saturday morning, the two went back-and-forth in the Class 1A pole vault - and then delivered a unique moment on the awards stand rarely seen among opponents.

See had the lead at 9-6, but Reed cleared 9-6 on her third and final attempt. Then, Reed won the championship when she went 10-0 on her first attempt, the first time she ever cleared 10-0.

"A perfect vault," Reed said.

After See missed her three attempts, the two shook hands and hugged on the runway.

They sat down on the bleachers by the awards stand and waited for their ceremony. During the break, Reed and See decided to celebrate together. After they earned their gold and silver, Reed and See clasped one hand, turned around to the St. Francis and Weskan fanbases on the east side and raised their other hands in celebration.

"We always compete together, and she beats me, and I beat her," Reed said. "It's kind of an on and off thing. Next year, she will probably beat me, but that's OK, because I know her, and she is a friend."

Last year, Reed finished second, See third. This spring, Reed, See and Almena-Northern Valley sophomore Brooke Baird entered as three of the four vaulters to clear 9-6 at the regional last week.

Baird, with a 1A-best clearance of 9-7, won the regional and had competed against Reed and See most of the spring.

"It was pretty close," Reed said.

Reed, See and Baird were the only three in a field that had no seniors to clear 9-0. Baird eventually took third at 9-0.

Before See's third attempt at 9-6, Weskan pole vaulting coach and Robyn's father, Ty, told her to move her pole vaulting standards to 20. See said no.

Then, See cleared the bar. Ty told his daughter, "OK, you know what you are doing."

"(Standards) depends on how good your plant is, and so he was thinking that I was going to have a weaker plant, and I was determined that I was going to have a better plant than he thought," See said.

Then, Reed made her third attempt at 9-6.

"I was just thinking I have to do this," Reed said. "I am determined to do it, and I am going to do it, so I did it."

After Reed cleared at 10-0, Ty See coached her daughter - and the St. Francis coach provided encouragement as well, telling Robyn to be inverted on the vault.

See missed, but continued the Sees strong pole vaulting tradition. Ty See is one of the all-time best vaulters in state history with three state titles for Wallace County.

"It's really awesome, because I get all the practice time I want, and my uncle actually has a pole vault pit, so that works really well," Se said. "It's a lot of fun. Me and my dad are really close, so it's awesome."