WICHITA — Helen Giefer was beaming as she approached the finish line. 

With her first state championship awaiting, the WaKeeney-Trego junior was grinning from ear to ear down the stretch of her victory in the Class 2A girls 3,200-meter run on Friday night in Cessna Stadium.

Giefer clocked an 11:13.24, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Bennington’s Halle Johnson, the defending state champ in the race. 

“It was so amazing,” Giefer said. “I mean, I’ve been going for this for so long. I’ve had chances to win it and I just blew it. To finally get it, it’s just so exciting.”

Giefer placed sixth in the event as a sophomore and bettered her time by nearly 43 seconds this year.

“Two weeks ago, I had good feelings about it,” Giefer said. “The last week I’ve been so nervous, thinking ‘Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen? Will I mess up again at state and just blow it or what?’ I’m just so excited that I finally got there.”

Johnson stayed close behind for much of the face before Giefer began to separate. 

“I knew I had to stay with her because she’s a really good runner and she won four events last year at state and she won state cross country,” Giefer said. “I just knew I really had to push myself, but I was also just trying to stay within myself and run the race I had planned.”

Giefer could hardly contain her excitement as she closed in on the win.

“I had kind of thought about what I would do if I actually won it,” she said. “I just got to the end and I was so happy. I just smiled big. I was so excited."


Autumn Princ didn't show much emotion as she crossed the finish line first in the 3,200, with the sophomore expected to defend her 1A title. 

But Princ let out of a scream excitement just a few seconds later when teammate Logan Batchman was announced as the 1A girls shot put winner. 

"That was so great," Princ said. "I'm always excited to see my friends who put in so much hard work compete to the best of their abilities."

After taking third in discus earlier in the day, Batchman won the shot put with a toss of 40 feet and 4 3/4 inches for her first state title. Hutchinson-Central Christian Krysten Bartlett was second with a 39-7. 

"I've been to state all four years of high school and this is my first championship so I think it was long-awaited," Batchman said. "My cheeks hurt a lot from smiling. I'm very happy with it."

Batchman, who will throw for Fort Hays State University next season, hit the winning throw on her third attempt after gong 39-7 on her first and fouling her second. 

Right before stepping up to the podium to be recognized, Batchman watched Princ defend her 3,200 title in 12:08.05, winning by 13 seconds over Axtell's Olivia Kuckelman. 

"Autumn is a great teammate," Batchman said. "We are obviously polar opposites, being a thrower and a distance runner but we get along great and there's a lot of support on our team."

Prince said it was gratifying to claim back-to-back titles. 

"It's really, really great to see your hard work pay off each year in these state meets," Princ said. "I was just really confident to get to run the 3200-meter again this year."