She tried to block out the adverse weather conditions.
But no matter how hard she tried, Jenna See couldn’t do it.
In the end, it didn’t matter in the least as the Weskan sophomore walked away with the title in the girls’ pole vault at the Class 1A regional track and field meet Friday at the FHSU complex in Hays.
“Man, it was cold and hard to get on the pole,” See said. “I had trouble deciding which pole to use. I was able to get on the big pole and plant hard.”
See cleared 9 feet to win the event, a foot better than second-place finisher Grace Grady of Downs-Lakeside.
But it wasn’t easy by any means. The meet, due to the wet and cold conditions, made it difficult for competitors Friday. Most of the throwing events took place late in the morning at Victoria High School, with the running and jumping events in the early afternoon in Hays.
Not long after the meet began in Hays, though, storms rolled through the area. Lightning and heavy rain delayed the meet for nearly an hour before finally getting started again at nearly 4 p.m.
Once it did, See did her best to clear what she needed to win the pole vault.
With a strong north wind at her back, See cleared 9-0 to win the event and qualify for the state meet next weekend in Wichita for the second straight year.
“I feel like I have a lot better chance,” See said about state, where she tied for ninth a year ago as a freshman. “Last year, I think I was just so nervous and shaking going down the runway. Now I know how it feels like with a huge crowd and the facility. I think I will do a lot better this year. Hopefully I’ll get on the podium this year.”
See has a long lineage of vaulting experience in her family, and she’s hoping to add to her family’s past success at state with her own podium finish.
“It’s about five generations,” See said about vaulters in her family.
Triplains-Brewster senior Tad Holm hoped to return to state in the high jump. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen Friday as he struggled in the event.
But Holm more than made up for it on the track, winning the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
“I made it to state last year in the high jump, but I knew hurdles were my strong point this year,” Holm said.
Holm won the 110s in 17.48 seconds, just ahead of St. Francis sophomore Cody Baxter (18.03).
He then edged Baxter again in the 300s, winning in 42.18 seconds — by only 0.3 seconds.
“It pays off for all the work I’ve put in all year,” Holm said.
The senior said he wasn’t sure what to expect this track season, but he knew hard work could put him where he needed to be at the end.
“Coming into the year, I didn’t really know where I sat,” Holm said. “I was just going in to give it everything and hopefully would come out on top.”
The conditions Friday weren’t ideal, but he still was able to sweep the hurdles races. His best time this year is 15.96 in the 110s and 40.76 in the 300s.
Victoria junior Collin Kisner qualified for state a year ago in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. He’s returning again this year in both events, as well as the 400-meter dash.
Kisner won the 200 and 400 and was second in the 100 to St. Francis sophomore Jordan Raby. Raby won in 12.05 seconds, while Kisner was right behind in 12.08.
“It’s quite an honor to be able to make it back, especially on a day like today,” Kisner said.
Kisner won the 200 in 23.73 seconds, just ahead of St. Francis senior Taylor Rogers (23.86). His time of 50.73 in the 400 was nearly a second ahead of Raby’s second-place time of 51.45. It’s the fastest time he’s posted this season.
A year ago at state, Kisner was seventh in the 100 and fourth in the 200 at state. He didn’t qualify in the 400 in 2016.
The St. Francis boys walked away with the regional team title ahead of Osborne. The Indians scored the bulk of their points on the track, thanks to Raby, Rogers and a host of relays.
The Indians won three events, including two relays — the 400 and 1,600. Their winning time of 44.18 in the 400 relay was just shy of their season best but good enough to still win.
St. Francis won the 1,600 relay in dominating fashion. The Indians finished in 3:28.86, nearly eight seconds ahead of Osborne, and they finished second to Osborne in the 3,200 relay.
Junior Tate Busse ran a leg on all three qualifying relays, and Raby ran on the 400 relay while qualifying in three events.
Bulldogs go the distance
The combo of seniors Cullen Grabast and Pierce Wolters left no doubt who the best 1A middle-distance runners are in northwest Kansas.
Grabast won the 800-meter run in 2:10.72, while Wolters was second in 2:11.04.
“It was tough,” Grabast said. “Running in the wind and the mist, that home stretch was the toughest part, no doubt. Coming in, that wind was right in your face. But, overall, I’m happy with the outcome.”
Wolters also won the 1,600 in 4:57.83. They both ran a leg on Osborne’s 3,200 relay that won in 8:59.53 — nearly five seconds ahead of St. Francis.
Junior Kylar Williams smashed his personal best this year in the long jump. Williams won the event with a leap of 22 feet, 7 inches. His previous best this year was 21-10. His performance Friday was the top jump by a northwest Kansas athlete in Class 1A.
He edged senior teammate Kian Coffey for the gold. Coffey finished at 22-4.75. No other competitor reached 21 feet.
Coffey won the triple jump at 44-11.5, his best effort this season and tops among 1A athletes in the region. He is the defending state champ in the event.
Senior Clayton Herdman started the day strong. The Washburn University football signee won the shot put and javelin for La Crosse.
Herdman threw the javelin 174-10 to blow away the competition, and he won the shot put with a heave of 48-0. Sharon Springs senior Grady Hammer — who won the discus (145-0) was second at 47-7.25.
But Herdman suffered ill fortune on the track. He was one of the top runners in the 400, but pulled up after only 100 meters into the race Friday and walked off the track — holding the back of his leg.
Herdman was second in the javelin and fourth in the 400 at state in 2016.
Freshman Autumn Princ won a state title in cross country this year, and she’s well on her way to upping the stakes on the track.
Princ dominated all three distance races, winning the 800 (2:35.37), the 1,600 (5:52.54) and the 3,200 (12:07.63).
Her 800 victory edged Quinter senior Sarah Bird (2:36.90) — who won the long jump at 16-5 — while Princ won by nearly 17 seconds in the mile.
She won by more than a minute in the 3,200.
Sophomore Kali Weber led the Victoria girls on the track. Weber, who won the 200 and was second in the 100 last year at state, won both of those races Friday at the regional.
Weber clocked in at 13.40 in the 100 and 28.14 in the 200.
She also anchored the school’s 400 relay to a win in 53.04 — rallying the team over Natoma (2nd, 53.31) and Stockton (3rd, 53.33).
Weber said she was used to competing in the less-than-ideal conditions this year.
“Actually, it wasn’t that bad,” she said. “I’ve had only two nice meets this year, and the rest have been pretty much like this. So it wasn’t that bad.”
Pacing Northern Valley
Sophomore Paige Baird will be making a return trip to state. She qualified in four events Friday.
Baird won the 400 in 1:02.14, edging Golden Plains’ Mabel Lugo at the finish.
She also was second in the 200, third in the 100 hurdles and second in the 300 hurdles.
Senior Taylor Regan struggled in the long jump but was able to finish third (16-0.75). It gives her a chance to repeat as a state champ in the event.
Regan won the triple jump with a leap of 34-0.5. Quinter’s Evie Gruenbacher was second (32-8.75).
Junior BeyLee Brummet won two events at the regional — the shot put (38-2) and the javelin (108-6).
She also was second in the discus (118-9).
Brummet qualified in all three events last year, finishing third in the shot put and fourth in the javelin. She failed to record a distance in the discus at state in 2016.