TMP's Ruder places second in 2-mile
By KLINT SPILLER
WICHITA — It's difficult to be disappointed when you run a personal best and still don't win.
Thomas More Prep-Marian senior Heather Ruder took runner-up in the Class 3A 3,200-meter Friday morning run for the second consecutive year at the state championship meet at Cessna Stadium, completing the race in 11 minutes, 29.46 seconds.
Like last year, she finished behind the reigning cross country champion. Last year, Ruder finished behind Hillsboro's Emily Sechrist, but this year, it was Hiawatha sophomore Jordan Puvogel who won.
Puvogel took first in 11:22.59 — the fastest 3,200 in 3A since 2007 when Riley County junior Annie Martin won in 11:05.92.
Ruder's time actually was 0.67 seconds faster than her previous best run at state, when she won the 3,200 in 11:30.13 in 2011.
"I PRed by point something," Ruder said. "I'm really not (disappointed). I'm happy I at least PRed and got a good time."
Sechrist led for much of the race with Ruder and Puvogel drafting behind her, and then in the final lap, Puvogel broke away while Ruder followed.
Puvogel ran the final lap in 71 seconds and managed to create enough separation Ruder couldn't make it up.
Sechrist took third in 11:37.40. All three girls ran season-best times, according to Kansas track and field historian Carol Swenson.
"My coach wanted me to stay behind Emily Sechrist, because I did that during cross country when I raced against her," Ruder said. "I tried to stay behind her, but then the Puvogel girl took out. I was trying to keep those two within my sight, and hopefully, we'd all kick at the end and I was hoping for my kick to come."
Ruder, an eight-time gold medalist and five-time silver medalist, still has three more opportunities to win double-digit gold medals in her career.
"It always motivates me to go out tomorrow and run fast and run hard," Ruder said regarding taking second in her first event at state.
On the boys' side, TMP senior Rodney Deus had a strong first day of competition.
Deus managed to reach the finals in all three of his preliminary races.
The 400-meter relay, bolstered by a strong second half by senior Carlos Duenes and Deus, ran the fourth fastest time to make it to finals.
Then in his final race of the day, Deus took his team from fifth to third in the first flight of the 1,600-meter relay.
The 1,600 relay, composed of Duenes, freshman Tim Flax, sophomore Nick Schmidt and Deus, posted the fifth fastest time in 3:30.88.
"I tried to get into the finals into as many events as I could, and so far, I've been doing that," Deus said. "Hopefully, tomorrow, I'll do it in the 100, too."
Deus also posted the second fastest time in the 200-meter dash in 22.42 seconds — 0.04 seconds behind the defending champion, Salina-Sacred Heart senior Drew Diederich.
"He's the one who got me tired," Deus said with a labored laugh. "Knowing I had to run against him, it made me want to go even harder, even though it's just prelims."
After running three intense races Friday, Deus said he admitted being nervous about his readiness for the finals Saturday.
"I'm kind of nervous my legs are going to be dead," Deus said.
Only one other Monarch made the finals.
Junior Skyler Urban took sixth with a personal-best 42-11.25 in the boys' triple jump.
Urban improved upon his previous best by 10 inches and leaped three feet farther than he did in his first meet of the season.
"We worked really hard this week, and I just kind of felt it, the momentum and the adrenaline rush," Urban said. "We've really worked hard on extending our phases this week, so think that really helped us out."
Other TMP performances
Freshman Andrew Hess took 15th in the boys' 3,200 in a season-best 10:46.41. Sophomore Sam Dreiling struggled in the pole vault and failed to record a height, missing at 11 feet.
On the girls' side, senior Jenna Schuckman finished 10th in the javelin with a throw of 110-0. Junior Mikaela Flax missed the finals in the 400-meter run, taking 10th in 1:02.53, and junior Samantha Younie didn't reach the final flight in the triple jump, taking 11th with 33-1.5.