By CONOR NICHOLL
Greensburg-Kiowa County junior Addi Heinson and Satanta senior Sicely Jackson both compete in the Southern Plains Iroquois Association. Kiowa County and Satanta, located 98 miles apart on US-400, often participate in the same meets.
In 2019, Heinson and Jackson matched up multiple times, including in the 100-, 200- and 400- meter dashes at the Class 1A state track meet at Wichita State University. Heinson and Jackson finished in second and seventh, respectively in the 100 and 200.
For the 400, Heinson was .85 seconds faster than Jackson at regional. At state, Jackson delivered 59.68 seconds for third, and Heinson was fourth in 1:00.57. Heinson ran on KC’s 400-meter relay that earned gold, and the Mavericks collected the overall team title.
That marked the last time Heinson and Jackson ran the 400 against each other until the Kiowa County regional on May 20.
Last spring was cancelled because of the pandemic. This year, Heinson battled a hip injury and didn’t run the 400 for several meets. Satanta used Jackson in multiple events during the spring. They were supposed to run against each other the week prior at league, but Jackson scratched the 400.
At regional, Heinson versus Jackson became a must-watch event in the 400.
“Everybody was ready,” Kiowa County coach Travis Powell said. “Everybody was watching. They really were, because every week Addi didn’t run and Addi didn’t run and then all of a sudden, Addi’s running, Sicely doesn’t run. I think everybody’s eyes were on the track.”
Both runners broke her own school records.
Heinson posted 57.71 seconds and Jackson was second in 58.44. They each ran into a headwind on the final stretch. Among 1A girls, only standout Oberlin freshman Rayne Erickson (58.91) ran under 61 seconds at regionals. All three rank in the top-10 for all classes.
Heinson also won the 100 in 12.06 seconds, seven-hundredths off her school mark. She posted 26.69 seconds to capture the 200. The 1,600 relay, with Heinson, won in 4:14.11. Kiowa County took the regional team title. All four marks are ranked first entering the 1A track meet Saturday at Wichita State University’s Cessna Stadium.
This marks the third and final day of competition with 1A/2A on Saturday. The first two days on the track were headlined on the girls by 6A Gardner-Edgerton’s Kendra Wait, 5A Olathe West’s Kennedi Cline and 3A Smoky Valley’s Belle Peters. The trio all ran at least one sprint event.
On Saturday, Heinson receives a final matchup with Jackson – and could show she is Kansas’ fastest girl, a rare achievement at the 1A level.
Thus far, Wait has the best 100 state time in 12.02. Blue Valley Southwest’s Emily Ervin posted 24.38 in the 200, and Leavenworth’s Dhakiya Blake ran 56.72 in the 400. Cline earned the 200/400 double in 6A with 25.11 and 57.90, respectively. Wait and Peters have four and three golds, respectively.
Additionally, Heinson could break (and possibly shatter) 1A state marks in all three sprint events. KC, with 10 straight league titles, is expected to battle with Doniphan West and Lincoln for the state team crown.
For 1A girls, the state sprint records have stood for several decades. The 100 mark is most in jeopardy. That is 12.30 seconds set by Logan’s Kelly Pakkebier and Grinnell’s Beverly Heier in 1985 and ’83, respectively.
The 200 and 400 marks came from the great Sandra Myers of Little River in 1979. Myers, who competed at UCLA and in the Olympics for Spain, posted 25.00 in the 200 and 56.50 in 400.
“Just confidence and trusting in herself has been huge this year,” Powell said.
Powell is the lone head track coach in Kiowa County school history. In March at the team meeting, Powell “got a little emotional” when spring sports came back from the pandemic.
“Because I was like, “We are ready to have this season,” Powell said. “I have been waiting 12 months to actually have this season.”
He has built a highly successful track program, especially with his girl sprinters. KC girls finished third as a team in ’18, fourth in ’17, 13th in ’16, fifth in ’15 and ’14, and third in ’13, ’12 and ’11, per KSHSAA archives. At regionals, KC had a high number of alumni return to help and watch the meet.
“We have been super blessed with great sprinters, fast girls,” Powell said.
Heinson has become the best sprinter in school history. She ran 59 seconds in the 400 in seventh grade.
“She has been on everybody’s radar in this area since then,” Powell said.
As a freshman, Heinson ran 12.18 seconds in the 100 at regional and 12.53 at state. She delivered 25.94 in the 200 final for the school record. KC was loaded last year, and Powell had strongly considered not running Heinson in the 400 at all and instead using her in the 400 relay. COVID thwarted any plans.
This year, Kiowa County graduated Sabrina Thomas and Kellie Rhodes, and Heinson was going to run in the 100, 200, 400 and 1,600 relay. Powell said Heinson “kind of grew” into the 400 “a little bit” this spring and gained confidence.
“Kids are kids, and sometimes they just have to go through the experience, and then ‘OK I can do this’ and everything settles down,” Powell said.
On May 7, Heinson posted 11.94 seconds and 25.58 hand-timed in the 100 and 200 at the Ellinwood meet. Powell and Heinson treated the results differently.
Since both marks were hand-timed rather than fully automatic (FAT), an adjustment of plus-0.24 seconds was required. Powell told Heinson to take the sub-12 time “with a grain of salt.” KC made the time adjustment to 25.84 in the 200, which set a new school mark.
“Her competitiveness,” Powell said. “I mean, it was there, but sometimes as a freshman, you are just not real sure. Her mindset, I think is different to where it’s like ‘I am going to do this. Here is what we are going to go do.’ … Just confidence and trusting in herself has been huge this year.”
At the May 14 league meet, Heinson set her school mark when she posted 11.99 FAT in the 100. She had a slight tailwind. Heinson nearly matched that mark at regional.
Entering state, Heinson ranked second for all classes in the 100. She was among the top-20 for all classes in the 200. Her 400 time ranks fourth in Kansas, while Jackson stands eighth and Erickson ninth, per Kansas historian Carol Swenson.
“I kind of tell my kids that we don’t necessarily have to be the first ones out of the blocks,” Powell said of the 100. “It’s not important to be winning at 10 or 15 meters. We really stress power out of the blocks and pushing as long as we can. And that’s kind of where we gain with her. There will be times where there’s been a few races where she is probably in third or fourth 15-20 meters in, but she is pushed a little bit longer, and then once she gets rolling, she is fast.”
Powell has long focused on just the meet coming up. KC especially stresses the league meet. For regionals, Powell tells his athletes to hone more on state qualification, and then the regional points will take care of itself. This year, Ingalls, led by Regan Ast, surprised Powell with a regional runner-up showing.
On May 21, Powell talked with his team about state. He mentioned Doniphan West, known for its distance runners and featured on SIK earlier this season, is “really strong.” He didn’t want to put any pressure on his team.
“We have got to go and perform where we are expected to perform,” Powell said.
In addition to Heinson, KC is ranked fifth in the 3,200 relay with 10:52.45. Senior Gracie Gray is seeded fourth in the 100 at 12.77. Gray is the lead leg of the 400 relay that ranks first at 51.39 seconds. Freshman Marley Little, a surprise, is ranked sixth in the 200 at 27.43.
Assistant coach Matt Hoffman calls Little “the silent assassin.” Little also qualified tied eighth in the pole vault at 8-9. Little runs on the shorter relays. Addison Sherer and Charleigh Friesen are key on the relays, too.
Junior Emma Thompson is seeded seventh in the discus at 104-8, and sophomore Liberty Gilkey is eighth in the triple jump at 33-5. Kiowa County boys qualified the 400 relay, and junior Bo West is seeded fifth in the the discus at 136-11. In the pole vault, senior Luke Ballard is seeded second at 14-3, a school record.
“She just kind of snuck in, came out of nowhere,” Powell said of Little. “We had no idea about pole vault. She said ‘Hey, I would kind of like to try that, and off we go.’”
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