1A regional -- Stockton's Williams back after knee injury
By CONOR NICHOLL
As a freshman, Stockton's Jaden Williams took fourth place at the Class 1A state meet in 15.51 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles and 10th in the 300-meter hurdles at 42.55. In the final game of his sophomore basketball season -- at the Class 1A Division I state tournament third-place game -- Williams tore his anterior cruciate ligament and missed all of track.
"Couple tears here and there, to be honest," Williams said. "I love track. Track is by far my favorite sport. It was rough. You see people out there and you are like, 'There is no reason why I can't be beating them right now.' "
A year later, Williams is back and has asserted himself as one of 1A's top hurdlers. Williams has run 15.1 hand-timed in the 110 hurdles, second-best in the classification, and fifth-best in the 300 hurdles at 40.6 seconds, according to historian Carol Swenson. Williams won both events against strong fields at the Mid-Continent League track meet and is the favorite entering Friday's Class 1A regional at Fort Hays State University.
"I'm pretty hyped for both of them," Williams said. "The 110 is probably my favorite. I like to do (the 300s), but it's pretty rough."
Williams, who will sit out football next season to focus on basketball and track, feels the knee from time to time. He is nearing the school marks of 14.56 in the 110s and 38.59 both set in 1994 by Joel McReynolds. The 300 mark also is the Class 2A state record. McReynolds, later a Fort Hays quarterback and currently a physician assistant in Kearney, Neb., has talked with Williams and recently spoke at Stockton's sports banquet.
"He said he has had me in the back of his mind a lot," Williams said.
Regan looks to qualify
Otis-Bison standout freshman Taylor Regan has impressed throughout the school year, especially in basketball and track. But Regan has been limited by injury this spring, including missing the Ness City and Victoria meets. Two weeks ago at Victoria, Regan fought a heel bruise and also wore a wrist guard. Coach Travis Starr said Regan battled the wrist injury throughout basketball.
Starr wanted to hold Regan out for precautionary reasons to prepare for last week's Central Prairie League meet. Last year, Otis-Bison's Hannah Bannister, a former state qualifier in the triple jump who had cleared 35 feet, had a similar heel issue.
"That triple jumping, it takes a pounding with your heels, and I think she came down wrong a couple weeks ago, and it progressively hasn't healed up," Starr said.
At CPL, Regan won the triple jump at 33-5, took second in the long jump at 15-6 and finished fifth in the 400 at 1:05.78. Regan has gone 34-8 in triple and 15-9.5 in long jump this spring.
The triple jump features six jumpers - including three returning state qualifiers - who have gone at least 32-10 this season. Five long jumpers have went at least 15-9.5. Regan likely will need to drop two seconds in the 400 to qualify. Top four in each event advance to next week's state meet.