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La Crosse, Hoxie win regional crowns

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

The La Crosse High School boys' track and field team had some obstacles at Friday's Class 1A track and field regional at Fort Hays State University. Senior Levi Morss, the state runner-up in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes last spring, false started in the 200. The Leopard throwers struggled early in shot put and discus.

However, by night's end, the Leopards had rebounded with another dominating performance. La Crosse, which set a 1A record for points en route to the state championship last spring, rolled to a regional crown with 136 points, more than double the rest of the field. Weskan was second at 59 points.

"I can't say enough about how our kids came out and competed today," coach Jon Webster said. "You start in the field events, your shot and discus throwers, their third throw, they busted out, they got into finals and they continued to compete. Levi Morss false starts in his race, the 200, bounces back, wins the long jump, comes back and runs a good 100, and 400."

Morss took second to Otis-Bison junior Jordan Hoffman in the 100 (11.37) and 400 (49.80). Hoffman, who ran 49.78, and Morss each set school records. Morss broke the mark of 50.2 set by Corey Torrez in 2008. Morss also won the long jump with a leap of 21-8.75.

Senior Will Storie collected a school record in the 300 hurdles (39.77). Storie beat Andrew Schroter's school record of 39.9 set in 2004. Schroter is now a Leopard assistant coach. Austin Webs and Storie went 3-4 in the 300 hurdles at state last year. Webs was in attendance and was the first person to congratulate Storie after the record.

"Will has been our quiet leader," Webster said. "He has been our rock, our most consistent kid on the track this year. He is often in the shadow. He just came out and shined tonight when the stage was the biggest. I think he has got more in him next weekend."

In the shot put, La Crosse went 1-2-3 with sophomore Sheldon Schmidt, senior Kip Keeley and sophomore Cole Kershner. They finished 1-2 in javelin with Keeley and junior Lucas Moeder, and 2-4 in discus with Schmidt and Moeder. Schmidt also qualified second in the high jump. Kershner, Moeder and Schmidt had never qualified for state in their career. Kershner struggled early in the season and Webster sent him to a junior varsity meet. Then, he hit 42 feet and Webster said he "just took off."

"He has improved so much, and he is a kid who deserves it because he works his tail off, and I am glad to see that he gets a chance to go down to Wichita," Webster said.

Heim hits big jumps

Sophomore Carly Heim had already established herself as one of Class 1A's top jumpers. Entering the regional, she had a season-best of 17-3 in the long jump, the classification's top mark, according to Kansas historian Carol Swenson.

She stood third in triple jump with a leap of 35-6.5, but just two inches away from first.

However, Heim marked herself as the clear favorite after a terrific day at the Class 1A regional at Fort Hays State University. Heim, jumping with a little wind, went 17-11.75 in the long jump and 36-2.25 in the triple jump. Hoxie won the regional title with 75 points, seven more than Wheatland-Grinnell. Heim hit the long jump on her very first attempt in any event.

"Truly blessed on that jump," Heim said. "The wind was just really good. I guess I have just been waiting all week to jump. Kind of just came together."

In comparison to other regionals, Heim is nearly a foot better than the second seed in the long jump and nearly a foot and a half ahead in the triple jump. Last year, Heim took fifth in the long jump (16-2.5).

"I think that would be really cool, but it's going to be tough to get there," Heim said of two crowns. "We will see how it goes."

She likely would have qualified in the triple jump, but scratched out when the 3,200-meter relay needed help. Then, Hoxie won the relay for the fifth straight year. Heim qualified in the 400 and 1,600 relay, but isn't expected to run on the 3,200 relay, which qualified third.

"I am planning on jumping," Heim said.

Thunderhawks take second

On a day of surprises, perhaps no team had a more shocking finish than the Wheatland-Grinnell girls' squad that took second. The Thunderhawks, which took sixth last year with 43 points, had several athletes score much higher than their seeding.

"Our girls competed," coach Ed Mense said. "Overall, they were looking at trying to win the today, and they gave it a heck of a run. To be in the top two of this regional, that was a big surprise."

The performance marked the last time Mense will see his time run this year. Mense and his wife are in a wedding next week and will not attend state track.

The 800 was tightly seeded, but sophomore Lacey Ostmeyer, seeded fourth, led the entire way and won in 2:32.19, easily her fastest time of the year.

"She did well last year, and she has come on really well this year lately," Mense said. "She ran the open 800 at league for the first time last week and won it. ... She absolutely ran her race of the season."

Sophomore Taylor Tustin took third in a season-best 2:34.73. Tustin also finished second in the 1,600 and she and Ostmeyer helped the 3,200 relay win in 10:28.57.

In the 300 hurdles, sophomore Kylie Wood qualified second in 50.34. Last year, Wood never broke 56 seconds. She was seeded outside the top entering Friday. But the Thunderhawks have diligently worked with Wood on her steps and it paid off.

"That was a definite surprise," Mense said.

Sophomore Allie Ryburn finished third in the shot put (32-7) and senior Brooke Ostmeyer was fourth in the javelin with a personal best of 106-4. Ostmeyer had some back issues and had struggled for several weeks.

"I thought she came through," Mense said.