Ness City High School junior Chandler Stiawalt entered the state track and field meet in Wichita on Saturday without a gold medal to his name, but he left Cessna Stadium with three of them in his possession, as he was perfect in his individual events.
Stiawalt took first in the long jump, triple jump and high jump. The only exception was the 400 relay, where the Eagle team placed seventh. He accomplished most of what he set out to do in the process, helping Ness City to a second-place team finish with 51 points. Olpe won the team title with 65.
“My goals were pretty much what I did besides the 4x1,” Stiawalt said after collecting his final gold medal in the triple jump.
The long jump was the event the Ness City junior was least confident in, and he was one jump away from failing to make the podium.
“That was the one I wasn’t really placed well in,” Stiawalt said.
He failed to post a score after his first three jumps. Heading into his fourth, he decided to make sure he produced a qualifying jump.
“I knew I had to do all I could to get a mark,” Stiawalt said. “If that means slow down or look at the board, I’m going to do it.”
Whatever it was seemed to work, as his jump of 20 feet 9.5 inches edged Kiowa County’s Landon Davis by three quarters of an inch.
From there, he traveled the length of the infield to the high jump, the event he was most confident in.
“I’ve consistently cleared 6-5 to 6-6,” Stiawalt said. “I got out a 6-6 today, and that got me the win.”
The high jump was also the event Ness City coach Patrick Younger was most sure Stiawalt would be near the top.
“The high jump, technique wise, might be one of his worst events, but at the same time I kinda more confident in that one because in my mind, you don’t have to worry about hitting the board like you do in long and triple jump,” Younger said. “You just kinda get up there and jump.”
And Stiawalt did jump. He cleared 6-0, 6-2 and 6-4 on his first tires. He jumped 6-6 in his second attempt at the height, failing to clear 6-8 in three attempts. Washington County’s Jerrod Hoover also cleared 6-6 on his second try but failed to clear 5-10 in one of his jumps, giving Stiawalt his second gold.
He returned to the runways for his third gold. Stiawalt’s third triple jump covered 42-10.75, which bested the field by more than seven inches.
“Asking Chandler to win three events, I mean I get chills just thinking about it,” Younger said. “That was impressive. That was awesome.”
Add in the relay race and Stiawalt was quite busy, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the Eagle jumper.
“Three jumps in one day, that’s quite a bit on your body, but we do that every meet,” Stiawalt said. “So I was kinda used to it.”
Just a junior, the Eagle jumper now wants to add at least three more golds to his collection before concluding his prep career. Extending his marks is also on the list of goals for his senior year.
“(I want to do) the same thing but bigger, higher and farther distances,” Stiawalt said.
Stiawalt was not the only Ness City gold medalist. Classmate Levi Armon won the shot put at 52-6. He was able to combine his three essentials: balance, speed and power, to win the event with his fourth throw.
“Step by step, balance starting off, speed in the middle and then finish out with power,” Armon said.
Like Stiawalt, the Eagle thrower entered his event with a good amount of confidence.
“I came in there positive, knowing I was going to win, and I did,” Armon said.
Armon added a silver medal in the discus with a throw of 146-7. Washington County junior Hunter Kier won the event by nearly 10 feet. A back injury prevented Armon from pushing Kier further, he said.
“Discus didn’t really go as I hoped, but an old injury came up there and kinda kicked my but a little bit, but I will take second any day.”
His coach also will take the two-medal day from his junior thrower, who improved his performances with a cool and calm demeanor in the ring.
“The light came on about a month ago where I really felt like he really started to enjoy track,” Younger said.
“The last couple weeks, he’s just been doing awesome.”
The juniors combined with senior Lucas Roths, who placed eighth in the 3,200, running a 10:20.66 to round out the Eagles’ team scoring.
Roths will continue his track career close to home, as he’s signed to join the Fort Hays State University track and field and cross country programs.
“This last year, he really came on,” Younger said. “He was a great teammate. I really wanted him to get on the stand today and he did. That was awesome.”
A second-place team showing was more than the Ness City coach could’ve asked for.
“(We) were in the running to get a plaque,” Younger said. “That definitely was not one of my goals, but those guys really, really stepped up for us.”
The presentation of the second place plaque completed quite the day for Stiawalt and the Eagles.
“It’s awesome,” Stiawalt said, “best feeling ever.”