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HHS boys claim fourth straight WAC crown

By BRETT MARSHALL

Special to The Hays Daily News

DODGE CITY -- Even without three key performers, who are sidelined by injuries and likely done for the season in their respective events, the Hays High School boys' track and field team still had enough firepower to claim its fourth consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship Thursday at Memorial Stadium.

Nobody knew better, though, than Indians' coach Ryan Cornelsen, that the Indians would have a tougher time this year to maintain their stranglehold on the WAC title.

And he was exactly right.

The Indians did walk off the track with another crown, scoring 113 points while Liberal, perhaps seeing a resurrection of its own once legendary track program which was guided by Cornelsen's father in the 1990s and early 2000s, finished a strong second with 98 points. Garden City was a distant third with 65.

On the girls' side, the Indians showed considerable improvement and promise by finishing third with 81 points while Garden City's girls repeated their own title with 110 and host Dodge City taking second with 94.

Missing due to various injuries were Alex Delton (100/200/2 relays), Jordan Windholz (long jump/triple jump) and Preston Weigel (100/relays) as well as Emilio Mitchell having to sit out the javelin due to an elbow injury.

That, Cornelsen said, was anywhere from 30 to 45 points. Add those back in to the mix, and the runaway winners of the past three years would have still been evident. But the HHS coach doesn't talk in what ifs, just what is.

"We knew going in, it would be much closer," Cornelsen said. "Liberal and Garden City have good teams. I'm proud of the kids who competed and overall I thought they did well. But it just feels like we're not peaking. Maybe the weather has had something to do with it. It's been a horrible spring for training. But we can't dwell on those things. We still have to find some more for the next two weeks if we want a chance to repeat. But it won't be easy."

Highlighting the boys' performance was senior Adam Deterding's 6-foot-10 high jump, setting a personal best for the future K-State decathlete, while tying Cameron Spencer of Class 6A Blue Valley North for the top mark in Kansas this spring.

Deterding, who later lost in the 110-meter high hurdles for the first time in three seasons to Garden City's Jonathan DuVall, said he was very happy with getting past the mental block of the 6-10 height.

"We jumped early when it was warmer and there was just a little wind," said Deterding, who cleared the height on his second try. "It's been a long time coming and it feels great."

Deterding then had the bar moved to 7-0, and while he missed all three tries, he came closest on his third and final jump.

"The first two were pretty rough, but I thought I came close on the third try," Deterding said. "There's not a lot of opportunity to get 7-0 and I really wanted to give it my best shot. It's a great feeling to know that I came that close."

For the loss in the 110s, Deterding was disappointed but not downtrodden. After all, he had put together his best time, clocking a 14.38 while Garden's DuVall won in 14.30 after he had gone 14.00 at Derby a week before.

"He's a great hurdler, and there's nothing to be ashamed of losing to him, especially since I had my fastest time," Deterding said. "This will just make me train harder for the next two weeks."

Deterding, who also claimed second place in the triple jump (43-11) and 300-meter hurdles (40.41) was by no means the lone standout for the Indians.

Mitchell doubled in the 100- and 200-meter dashes (11.03 and 23.33). Cade Sharp took first in the shot put (54-06) and second in the discus throw (158-08). The Indians' 3,200-meter relay team of Josh Brungardt, Derek Drees, Landon Munsch and Ethan Fort claimed gold with a time of 8:06.04, the fastest time in Kansas for all classes this season. Brungardt ran his fastest open 800 of the season (1:57.70), but was nipped at the finish line by Dodge City standout Oscar Carmona's 1:57.63. Hayden Kreutzer cleared 14-0 in the pole vault, and was third on misses.

The ever-improving Indian girls also had their share of top performances in finishing a strong third.

Wendy Zimmerman and Haley George went 2-3 in the high jump (5-02) and Zimmerman won the triple jump (35-07.75). Mattison Schlaefli won the javelin with a throw of 118-07 and Audra Schmeidler claimed the top spot in the shot put (34-05.50). Schlaefli finished second in the 100-meter hurdles (15.89) and Zimmerman was fourth in the open 400-meters (1:02.33).

Schlaefli and Ashlyn Paris went 2-3 in the 300-meter hurdles with times of 50.44 and 51.12 while Schmiedler (97-00) and Millie Copper (94-11) were third and fourth in the discus throw.

The Indians' 1,600-meter relay team of Annie Gonzales, Schlaefli, Summer Smith and Zimmernan clocked a 4:16.44 to finish second.

The Indians will be idle until next Friday when they travel to Salina for the Class 5A regional. A top-four finish in an event will send an HHS athlete to the state meet on May 24 and 25 in Wichita.