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Quinter girls enjoying strong start

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

NESS CITY -- At the Class 1A state championship last spring, Quinter High School junior Missy Reed finished sixth in the 100-meter hurdles and qualified in the triple jump. Bulldog senior Heather Kuntz took sixth in the 100-meter dash. Senior Kayla Zerr collected a sixth-place finish in the high jump and is a strong 300-meter hurdler. Junior Sadie Corwin is a member of Quinter's 3,200-meter relay and a solid sprinter.

The four Bulldog athletes are strong in various individual events, but, for the past two years, have formed one of Class 1A's best in the 400- and 1,600-meter relay.

"It's nice because we all kind of have our own event that we do well in and then we come together and we can do really well in a relay," Reed said. "It's more fun to win as a team than all by yourself."

In 2010, the Bulldogs finished second in the 1,600 relay and 13th in the 400 relay. Last year, Quinter took fourth in the 1,600 relay and seventh in the 400 relay at state.

"We do a lot of different workouts, some to focus on our speed for the 4x1, then we do a lot of workouts for the 400 to get our endurance," Zerr said. "We mix it up quite a bit and we are very prepared for both, I think, and we all do it together."

On Friday, the Bulldog quartet delivered a second-place finish at the nine-team Ness City Invitational. Quinter only won the 3,200-meter run (senior Addie Johnson) and still collected 88.5 points.

WaKeeney-Trego Community, paced by senior sprinter Lexi Riedel, won the title with 96 points. Riedel took first in the 100 (13.08), 200 (26.55) and 400 (62.03) and helped the 400 relay take third. However, Quinter's relay times from Friday rank among the top in Class 1A so far this spring.

"Starting from my sophomore year, we have just been building and building and building and we have been getting closer and we know each other," Zerr said. "We know what we are going to do, so that helps a lot."

Quinter started the season with an early season disqualification in the 400 relay, a usual occurrence. Friday, the Bulldogs posted a 52.98, second to Ness City's 52.22.

"Usually at the beginning of the season, we have a couple mistakes," Zerr said. "Last week, obviously, we got disqualified because we had our handoff outside of the arrows. We usually have one of those and then from there on out, we are good to go. We fix the mistakes."

Zerr said the group was "very pleased" to finish under 53 seconds. She recalled just one meet, the Class 1A regional in Hays, where Quinter broke 53 seconds last year.

"To start the year off running 52s is just a huge confidence booster. I think we are going to continue to get better," she said.

Entering the meet, defending state champion Scandia-Pike Valley had the top time in Class 1A at 52.7 seconds, according to Kansas track historian Carol Swenson.

In the 1,600-meter relay, Quinter took second in 4:20.82. Ness City won in 4:15.73. Pike Valley is the only Class 1A team run under 4:18 this spring.

In 2011, Quinter and Pike Valley were the only two 1A girls' relays to place in both the 400 and 1,600 relays. Quinter was the lone team to have the same four girls on both relays.

"We are so used to running together and that makes a huge difference, I think," Zerr said.

The girls performed well in their individual events, too. Zerr hurt her thigh during the week of Quinter's season-opening meet. She wore a wrap and felt "pretty sore" Friday. Still, Zerr took second in the high jump and the hurdles.

Kuntz finished runner-up to Riedel in the 100 and missed placing in the 200 by .01 seconds. Reed was second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in a deep triple jump field, while Corwin helped Quinter take second in the 3,200 relay.

"For a couple of events, we are together and we can push each other, but then for the other events, we can go cheer each other on and build each other up, so I think that brings us a lot closer together, makes us work harder for each other in the relays," Zerr said.

The 5-foot-3 Reed is the youngest of four siblings and has three older brothers, including Tyler, a former hurdler. In seventh grade, Reed wanted to try the hurdles, an event she calls probably her top event now.

"(The coaches) didn't really ask me to try them, because I am short, but my older brother ran them and I decided to try them and worked on them a lot," Reed said.

Successful hurdlers generally take three steps between hurdles. Because of her size, Reed usually can't three-step past the first or second hurdle, a disadvantage. Yet, Reed often beats girls much taller than her. Reed posted a 17.23 to take second, a mark that puts her among the best in 1A.

"It is kind of fun, because people don't really expect me to be very good, and then when you beat a really tall girl, it makes you feel good," she said.

In the triple jump, Reed went 32-8 in her first jump of the season and then hasn't cleared 32 feet since. She was in a tough field where the top-three jumpers have all went over 33 feet in their careers. Reed finished fourth with a leap of 31-5 º.

"I felt like I could have jumped better, it was good to have competition instead of not having to try as hard," she said.

Ness City performs well

Especially with the his boys' team, Ness City coach Patrick Younger has had to scramble a little because of illness, injury and school functions.

His girls' relays, especially the 1,600 and 3,200, are more solidified after each event reached the state meet last spring and has veteran runners returning.

For the boys, junior Garrett Flax has run on the 400 relay the last two seasons, but still remains out with a leg injury. Junior Wyatt Beckman missed a month with mononucleosis and this past week was his first hard training of the spring.

Yet, the Eagles won the boys' title with 107 points, eight more than Holcomb. The Ness City girls took third with 87 points. The Eagle boys finished second in the 400 relay, 1,600 relay and took first in the 3,200 relay. Beckman ran a leg on the 1,600 and 3,200 relay.

"I am pretty pleased," Younger said. "We worked pretty hard. These last couple weeks, it's kind of been crazy just with a bunch of different school functions that a lot of kids have kind of been gone to."

"I think finally now all that is slowing down and I really think just get everyone healthy and get ready to roll," he added. "I think the big thing is all the kids have kind of bought into the program and that's really helped it."

Senior Kyle Schauvliege, one of Kansas' top distance runners, faced little competition and won the 1,600 (4:40.63) and 3,200 (10.29.74). Younger asked Schauvliege to "kind of cruise" and to get ready for a strong 3,200 field at the upcoming Holcomb meet. Sophomore Dray Carson has battled a knee injury and finished second in the 800, third in the 1,600 (personal-best 4:47.70) for Ness City, too.

"I was kind of impressed with the way they he fought through that," Younger said. "He just keeps on getting stronger and stronger and I just think that every meet this year, he is just going to continue to drop."

Last year, the Eagle girls took second in Class 2A in the 1,600 relay and third in the 3,200 relay. The 400 relay nearly missed qualifying for state. On Friday, Ness City swept all three relays, winning the 400 (52.22), 1,600 (4:15.73) and 3,200 (10:21.26).

"The girls' relays did awesome," Younger said.

Other top performances

Otis-Bison senior Janel Tammen swept the throws. She won the shot put (36-6), discus (111-5) and javelin (115-5). Quinter senior Brian Ochs won the shot put (44-10), discus (151-8) and was second in the javelin (150-10). Ness City's Austin Gabel won the javelin (172-6).