WICHITA — For Otis-Bison junior Taylor Regan to jump ahead of the field, it required a drastic change.
In 2015, Regan failed to eclipse 34 feet, 5.25 inches in the triple jump. The only time she jumped further than 16 feet was in regionals.
She made the decision to make the switch from jumping off her left foot to jumping off her right. It paid off with a gold medal in the long jump of the Class 1A long jump Saturday at the Kansas State Track and Field Championships at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
“I actually switched the foot I jump off of. Last year, I was really struggling, but this year we switched to my right and we immediately got in the 16s,” Regan said. “We just kept working on my pit phase and getting my feet extended. It helps a lot in both my triple and long jump.”
She entered the long jump as the top seed after a jump of 17 feet, 2.25 inches in the Phillipsburg regional, the lone jump over 17 feet in the week prior to state.
But her opening jump of 16-9 was enough to win golf by 4.5 inches. The jump and seeding made the junior nervous, but a burst of confidence ultimately jolted Regan to victory.
“Coming in number one definitely made me nervous. I’ve never been there, so it was definitely a different experience coming in,” Regan said. “It kinda gave me confidence.
“I was a little worried ‘cause I knew some girls had went over 17 this year. I was a little nervous but ended up safe.”
Regan followed with a 16-3.25, a foul and a 16-8.75, which still would have won the event.
Regan placed third in the 1A triple jump earlier Saturday, jumping 34-6.25. Her lone jump better in her career is a 36-7.75 jump from regionals.
Getting the triple jump out of the way before the event she was favored in calmed Regan even more, she said.
“It was good. After my first jump, my nerves calmed down a little bit,” Regan said. “Long jump, I was a little more nervous, but it worked.”
Regan placed fourth in the triple as a freshman and failed to earn a spot on the podium last season. After a breakout junior campaign that put 1A jumpers on watch, she’s got her eyes on 2016 already.
“I definitely wanna come back in triple and long. I’d like to get 17-and-a-half I think (in the long jump),” Regan said. “Then, I’d like to get back in the 36s (in the triple jump). I jumped one and regionals and wasn’t able to do that today, so I want to triple a little further than I did today.”
Plainville senior Shania Werner capped her career with a second-place finish in the 2A long jump, falling shy of overwhelming favorite Brandi Roepke of Valley Heights.
Werner twice jumped lower than her average, landing jumps of 15-5.5 and 15-7. Her second jump of 16-9.25 proved to be her best, as a foul on her third attempt kept her from jumping further.
“Today, I wasn’t getting up off the board as I was the last couple of weeks I have been, just gaining speed on the runway,” Werner said. “I think I’m satisfied with it. I would have liked first, but second’s pretty good.”
Werner added an eighth-place finish in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.81.
Ellis junior Ashley Mattheyer earned a bronze in the 2A high jump by clearing 5-2.
Russell junior Alaina Gfeller joined her senior brother, Noah, on the podium with two gold medals in the long jump and 1,600 relay, giving the Broncos back-to-back titles. She also earned a pair of silvers in the triple jump and 400, a race decided by one-one hundredths of a second.
Gfeller’s final jump of 17-3.75 pushed her ahead of Belle Plaine junior Jessica Heidel’s jump of 17-1.25. She recorded seventh- and fourth-place finishes in the event her first two seasons. Noah took home a gold medal with a personal record in the boys’ 800.
“I just knew what the top jump was and knew what I had to get,” Gfeller said. “So I just mentally prepared for it.
“When we both have success together, it’s awesome.”