(UPDATE (6 p.m.): KSHSAA has postponed the remainder of events scheduled for today until Saturday with a schedule to be released tonight. Check back for Saturday's schedule.)
WICHITA — Colby senior Matthew Pieper entered the Class 4A boys’ triple jump as the event’s defending state champion. While his best jump nearly matched last year’s winning distance, it was only enough to crack the top three in Friday's first session of the Kansas State Track and Field Championships at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
Pieper jumped 44 feet, 1.75 inches, his second best mark this season, to take third after winning the event as a junior at 44-6. His third-place jump came in his final attempt. He failed to pass 43 feet in any of his previous five attempts.
Basehor-Linwood junior Eric Scott produced a 47-6.5 in his fifth jump to win the event by nearly 2 feet.
“That is quite far,” Pieper said of Scott’s jump.
Kansas City-Piper’s Emmett Lockridge took second at 45-11.5.
“The competition, it’s really getting tougher every year,” Pieper said. “It’s just amazing how last year I just jumped a 44-6 and won it.”
The Eagle senior hoped to be competitive in Saturday’s long jump, as he looked to add another gold medal. Whether or not that happens, Pieper can live with his effort in the triple jump.
“I felt like I competed well,” Pieper said. “It’s just, all year, I’ve just been too focused because I was a state champion last year. I was too focused on that, couldn’t really get the push and form down lately.”
Hays High's Berens takes third in discus
Hays High junior Shane Berens entered the boys’ discus with the third-best distance amongst Class 4A competitors and left the ring with a third-place result.
Ulysses senior Ian Rudzik, the top-seeded athlete in the event, had the discus won before his final throw with a distance of 178-4, which came on his first attempt.
Rock Creek senior Michael Zabel took second at 167-9.
Berens went 165-1 on his fifth throw for third place.
It wasn’t his best effort on the year, but it was a result he can live with.
“I felt good,” Berens said. “I had a good warmup. I didn’t throw my best, but I’m pleased with my third place compared to last year.”
Last year, Berens said he failed to come within 25 feet of his personal best as he dealt with the nerves that come along with a state debut.
Conditions on Friday were not the best for the event. Discs returned to the throwers with a good amount of moisture, as the grass outside Cessna Stadium was soaked with rain from the previous night, while the wind offered little help to throwers.
“There wasn’t much wind and when it did come it was kinda a cross lefty wind,” Berens explained. “Most of us were righties, and that didn’t help.”
While the Indian junior came to Wichita with hopes of a gold medal in the event, he’ll have another chance next year, as both finishers ahead of him are seniors.
“It motivates me,” Berens said. “I just want to get as good as I can.”
Berens also qualified to compete in Saturday’s shot put.
Boys’ preliminary advancers
Hays High senior Maddux Winter finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdle preliminaries with a time of 15.39.
Senior Keith Dryden landed the best time the in Class 4A 400 prelims, notching a 50.21 to qualify for Saturday’s finals as the top seed.
Colby earned three Saturday qualifications. Senior Chandler Comfort finished 7th in the 300 hurdles with a time of 41.20. Freshman Jordan Schippers earned the final spot in the 200 finals with a 23.11. The 4x400 relay team also grabbed the final spot with a 3:29.94.
Hays High sophomore Ethan Nunnery finished eighth in the Class 4A triple jump with a jump of 42-5.5.
Girls’ preliminary advancers
Sydney Stephens, a Colby senior, advanced in the Class 4A 400 with a 1:01.38, seeding her seventh for Saturday’s race. She was also the starting leg for Colby’s 1,600 relay team that advanced to Saturday, placing fifth in prelims with a 4:07.15.
Girls’ area placers
Hays High senior Haley George was unable to tie her personal record of 5-4, leading to a sixth-place medal in the Class 4A high jump on misses. McPherson’s Mandi Cooks was the lone competitor to clear 5-4.
Colby senior Andrea Browne capped her prep career with a fifth-place finish in the Class 4A 3,200, her sixth career medal at state. She finished with an 11:35.25. Girard’s Cailie Logue won the event with a 10:31.60, shattering a meet record dating back to 2005.
Senior Kaylee Rehmer earned Colby another medal with a fifth-place throw of 114-6 in the discus.
Weather delays Friday's second session
Friday's second session was delayed soon after it started.
Lightning in the area forced an evacuation of Cessna Stadium after only the prelims of the 1A and 2A girls' 100-meter hurdles were completed. The meet will not restart until at least 5:15 p.m.