Track preview 2013 ... HHS' Zimmerman looks to have busy weekend in Wichita

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

It's tough to medal in four events at the Class 5A state track and field championships.

It requires a unique set of talents, plenty of practice time and mental and physical fortitude.

That's what Hays High School junior Wendy Zimmerman is aiming to do this weekend at state track at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.

If anyone can do it on the Hays High girls' track and field squad, it's Zimmerman, who has been a top scorer for Hays High the past three seasons.

It's the second consecutive year Zimmerman qualified for state in four events. She might have even done it her freshman year if she hadn't broken her foot at a dance recital before the league track and field meet.

This year, Zimmerman qualified in the high jump, triple jump, 400-meter run and 1,600 relay.

"It's kind of a dream," Zimmerman said about placing in all four.

Hays High coach Ryan Cornelsen said Zimmerman reminds him of a pentathlete.

"Wendy probably fits that mold," Cornelsen said. "She's athletic enough to do five events. ... She's very consistent, and we just need her to peak at the right time and hit some big jumps and drop her 400 time down."

In 2012, Zimmerman medalled in the triple jump (fifth, 36 feet 3 inches) and high jump (sixth, 5-2), but she placed 11th in the 800-meter run and 1,600-meter relay.

"All those events kind of wear you down by the end of the day," she said.

Zimmerman ran the 800 in high school partly because she was following her sister Bailey's footsteps. Bailey Zimmerman was an all-state mid-distance runner for Hays High in 2010 and 2011.

"In eighth grade, I did the open 800, and I've always looked up to her and I thought running the 800 was my thing, too," Wendy Zimmerman said.

But Wendy decided to switch from the 800 to 400 this season after seeing her 1,600-meter relay splits from last season.

"I feel like I've gotten faster at longer sprints," she said. "In the 4x400 last year, my time was a 60 flat. I think that kind of showed I had potential in that event. I asked Coach if I could change it up this year and do an open 400 instead, and I stuck with it."

Cornelsen said it was a natural transition for Zimmerman to make.

"A lot of it comes down to it is tough to train for an 800 and still be explosive in your jumps," he said. "You can get away with it in the 400."

Zimmerman said her goal is to record personal bests in all four events. She said that's what drives her.

"I've gotten a lot of consistency going on," Zimmerman said. "I just wish I could see myself peak."

She might have to peak in order to place in all four.

Based upon regional marks, Zimmerman is seeded third in the high jump (5-2), sixth in the triple jump (35-5.25) and ninth in the 400 (1:02.01), and the 1,600 relay, which also includes sophomores Ashlyn Parrish, Mattison Schlaefli and Summer Smith, is seeded ninth (4:13.76).

"She's going to see some events where there's extremely good talent, but she's a good trackster," Cornelsen said.

Though the Hays High girls haven't matched the boys' exploits as a team, Cornelsen said Zimmerman leads by example and is helping to rebuild the girls' squad.

"She works year around and puts in the time," he said. "... Hopefully our girls rally around that."