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Track in Kansas: Kendra Wait headlines historic state

Kendra Wait of Gardner Edgerton w/ four golds.
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Jun 2, 2021

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Gardner-Edgerton senior Kendra Wait had enjoyed an exceptional first two track seasons. As a freshman, Wait was third in pole vault, fifth in the 200-meter dash and won the 100 meter state title. Her sophomore year, Wait added the shot put. Wait captured titles in the 100 and shot, took second in the pole vault and fourth in the 200.

On Feb. 28, I talked with Wait, a former Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year in volleyball and track, on a wide range of topics. Wait’s dad, Darrell, high jumped at Kansas State. Her older brother, Kyle, won a state title and pole vaulted for KSU. Kendra’s sister, Cassie, is one of the great all-around recent athletes in Kansas prep history. Cassie won three pole vault titles and had a stellar career as KU’s libero.

“Really (pole vault) just started with my brother,” Kendra said. “He just started doing it. He randomly found that he liked that more than high jump, which my father did. And then that just kind of made my sister go into it, and then she found a lot of success into it, so I felt like it was just kind of my natural way of getting into track was to just start with pole vault and see where it went from there – and I liked it, and I just continued to do it.”

2020 track was cancelled because of the pandemic. Wait said she most missed the potential opportunity to try new events.

“I think just the possibility to continue to add more on,” Wait said. “I know we were kind of starting to talk about hurdles a little bit and adding on some more events and just trying to see what else I could do. And so I think just that possibility of extending everything and just seeing what else outside of my realm of what I already do.”

This season marked Wait’s last chance to increase her rare repertoire. She has never wavered to her Creighton volleyball commitment.

“Now I only have one more year and that would be the end of my track career,” Wait said. “…Right now, my plan is just to do shot put, pole vault, and then 100 and 200. And then maybe a relay if we decide to throw one together.”

However, Wait picked up the long jump on a cold April 17 meet – and broke the school mark at 18 feet, 4.25 inches on her first attempt. At the Sunflower League meet two weeks before state, Wait won all four conference titles in the 100, pole vault, shot put and long jump. She broke her own school records in the shot put (43 feet, 10.5 inches) and long jump (18-7).

Two weeks later, Wait etched her name forever into the Kansas history books at the Class 6A state championship at Wichita State University’s Cessna Stadium. Last Thursday, Wait capped her career with several feats never seen before in 100-plus years of state track.

Wait captured the 100 dash in 12.23 seconds, .01 seconds ahead of Olathe North sophomore Ka’Liyah McGinnis. She won the pole vault with an 11-foot clearance, her day’s lone attempt.

Cassie still holds the 5A state mark at 13-2, set in 2013. Wait won the long jump with an 18-5 leap; she passed on her final four attempts because of other events. Wait captured the shot put by nearly two feet with a mark of 41-2.5.

Historically state track is spread out over two days, but Wait accomplished all the golds in one day. She is also the first 6A athlete to ever win four golds.

Multiple coaches/media members/fans asked on Twitter if Wait was Kansas’ best athlete (boy or girl) and/or the best track athlete ever. On Tuesday, SIK reached out to esteemed longtime historian Carol Swenson for context.

Swenson noted Wait was the first boy or girl athlete ever to win the combination of the 100, pole vault, long jump and shot put at state. Wait is also the only girl ever – and just the second individual to have a shot put gold among four golds at a single meet.

The other individual was Hutchinson’s Solomon Butler in 1913 – when he won the 50-yard and 100-yard, 220-yard low hurdles and shot put. In three years, Wait finished with seven golds.

Twenty-nine girl athletes have won at least eight career gold medals at state track, paced by Claflin’s Jackie Stiles with 14. Because of the pandemic, Wait finished her career with seven golds in 11 career individual events, a 63.6 winning percentage, one of the state’s highest all-time marks.

Wait’s historic day highlighted the three-day track meet. Classes 5/6A occurred Thursday, 3/4A on Friday and 1/2A on Saturday. On Tuesday, Swenson released his final statewide leaderboard. Wait cleared 13 feet in the pole vault, which ranks sixth all-time and third-best for all classes this season. Her 18-7 long jump was fourth-best for all classes. Wait was second in the shot put for all classes.

In the 100, McGinnis posted the fastest fully automatic time at 11.72. Wait ran 12 seconds flat, third-best in Kansas. As well, Wait picked up NSCA All-American Strength and Conditioning Athlete award in mid-April.

G-E weights coach Mark Simoneau, a former Smith Center, K-State and NFL standout, noted via Twitter that “Kendra has set the highest standard with her work ethic and approach to her preparation.” A 4.0 student, Wait can back squat 330 pounds, clean 200 and has 32-inch vertical jump, which are uber-talented numbers. Kendra and Cassie, now a lawyer in the Kansas City area, have always been close. Kendra has long looked up to her sister, a NCAA Woman of the Year nominee with the Jayhawks.

“There are no words that speak to the breadth of this accomplishment,” Cassie wrote on Twitter. “She exudes grit, humility and is truly the fiercest competitor I know. Proud is an understatement.”

Wait scored 40 points and helped G-E tally 56 for a third-place tie and the final team plaque.

Peterson, Hammond, Heinson net four golds

Wait marked the lone boy or girl in 2021 to win four individual titles. Johnson-Stanton County sophomore Chesney Peterson captured four titles in 2A with the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and the 1,600 relay. Peterson also the captured 2A cross country championship last fall. Kiowa County junior Addi Heinson won the 100, 200, 400 and 1,600 relay in 1A.

Peterson broke the 2A state record in the 1,600 when she posted 5:00.72. That was .23 seconds ahead of Onaga’s Janet Haskin’s mark set in 1988. Heinson broke the Class 1A’s 100 record by .01 seconds with a 12.29 mark, though the time was wind aided. The mark of 12.30 had stood since 1983 and was tied in ’85.

GP junior Brooke Hammond also picked up four golds with three individuals and one relay. She won the 100 dash in 12.27 seconds, the 200 in 25.65 and the 400 with 1:00.79. The 400 relay was first in 49.97 seconds with Hammond on the anchor. Hammond has seven golds in two track seasons after she won the 100, 200 and 400 relay as a freshman.

Her teammate, senior Allison Catlin, picked up three golds in the 100 hurdles (15.65), the 300 hurdles (46.07) and the 400 relay (49.97).

Kiowa County girls won 1A, and Stanton County was 2A runner-up to Garden Plain.  Kiowa County and GP also won state in ’19.

Fairchilds, Yungeberg with huge days in the throws

Additionally, Andale girls rolled to the 4A championship with 137.5 points, 67.5 ahead of runner-up Paola. Senior Katelyn Fairchild, a Texas A&M signee, won the shot put with a throw of 42-2.5. Her sister, sophomore McKenzie, took second at 40-6.

In the discus, the sisters flipped. McKenzie won with a 140-foot toss, and Katelyn took second at 132-10. In the javelin, Katelyn, McKenzie and their cousin, senior Samantha Marx, went 1-2-3 in the javelin.

Katelyn had posted a season-high 175-4 mark at regionals, second-best all-time in state annals. She threw 170 feet at state, which broke the 4A mark set in 2008 by Tonganoxie’s Roxi Grizzel at 165-5.

In 2A, Valley Heights junior Emma Yungeberg won the shot put (40-11), captured the javelin (144 feet) took second in the discus (126-10). Katelyn Fairchild’s and Yungeberg’s 1-1-2 throwing finishes are among the best in Kansas history.

Per Swenson, four girls have won all three throwing events in Kansas annals: Horton’s Lachelle Hartley in 1989, Nemaha Valley’s Kim Feldkamp in ’93, Maize’s Urika Henson in ’04, and Nemaha Central’s Jacy Dalinghaus in ’19.

Wilson, Fleetwood, Boys’ 3,200 records fall

In 2A, Sterling senior Tyus Wilson captured his third high jump title and broke the 2A state record. Wilson has cleared 7-3, third-best all-time in state history. A Nebraska commit, Wilson cleared 7-2 and broke the mark of 7-0.25 set by Hoxie’s Travis Baker in 1999.

In 5A, Mill Valley senior Lily Fleetwood won the pole vault with a 13-foot clearance. That broke the school record of 12-9 set in 2015 by Blue Valley West’s Christina LeMunyon.

The last state record came in the remarkable 3,200-meter run in Class 5A. The former record was 9:14.78 by St. Thomas Aquinas’ Dwight Davis in ’96. Aquinas senior Thomas Hazen won in 9:05.39. His teammate, junior Logan Seger, was second in 9:09.07. Kapaun Mt. Carmel senior Erik Enriquez also broke the state mark in 9:13.82.

Other top performers – Girls:

In 3A, Smoky Valley, as expected, easily rolled to the state title with 85 points, 42 ahead of Eureka. It marked the first state girls’ track plaque for Eureka in school history. SV senior Belle Peters, a Pittsburg State signing, won the pole vault with an 11-6 clearance. Belle won the 200 (25.94), the 100 hurdles (14.78) and third in the 100 dash (12.48).

Smoky Valley junior Elizabeth Lambert picked up three golds in the 800 (2:18.75), the 1,600 relay (4:03.72) and the 3,200 relay (9:48.99).

In 5A, St. Thomas Aquinas senior Paris Bond won the high jump in 5-6, the triple jump in 37-9.5 and took second in the pole vault at 12 feet.

In 6A, Olathe West junior Kennedi Cline won the 200 in 24.79 and the 400 in 57.90. OW, with Cline, was second in the 400 relay at 49.46 seconds. Cline ran on the 1,600 relay that won in 4:03.58.

In 4A, Louisburg junior Delaney Wright won the 200 dash in 25.54, the 400 in 58.30 and the long jump with a 18-2.25 leap.

In 6A, Olathe North freshman Anjali Hocker Singh and Blue Valley Northwest senior Riley Beach finished 1-2 in state cross country last fall. They went back and forth at state track. In the 1,600, Beach won in 4:59.33 by .07 seconds over Singh. In the 3,200, Singh posted 10:33.91, while Beach was second. Singh posted 2:19.23 and was second place in the 800 by .01 seconds behind Shawnee Mission East junior Grace Meyer.

In 3A, Riley County senior Ames Burton won the shot put (41-3.5) and discus (147-2). Southeast of Saline junior Jentrie Alderson bounced back from injury. She won the 1,600 in 5:11.59 and the 3,200 in 11:13.06. Colby senior Lara Murdock was second in both events.

In 3A, Jentrie Alderson of SE Saline took home golds in 3200 and 1600 meters. She also set a new league record in the 3200 earlier this season. 

In 5A, Bishop Carroll junior Hope Jackson won the 1,600 in 5:04.75 and the 3,200 run in 10:59.77.

Wellington sophomore Anna Cullens, a state wrestling champion in the winter, won the 100 hurdles in 14.39 in 4A by .09 seconds. Cullens was .09 seconds off the 4A state record that has stood since 1983. Cullens won the 300 hurdles in 45.05 seconds.

Boys Top Showings

Throughout the season, Shawnee Heights sophomore Jeremiah Smith, Hays High junior Jaren Kanak and Lansing senior Malik Benson put up top-10 all-time numbers in various sprint/hurdle events and/or the long jump. Benson was unable to compete at the state track meet.

In the 100, Smith edged Kanak 10.52 to 10.58. Smith is a former AAU national champion, and Kanak has 20-plus Power 5 offers, including defending national champion Alabama and powerhouse Clemson. Smith nearly beat the 5A long-standing record of 10.50 set in 1981 by Independence’s Danny Williams.

In the 200, Smith defeated Kanak, 21.92 to 22.06. Smith also won the 100 hurdle crown in 14.74 seconds. Kanak was third in the 400 relay at 43.67 and fifth in the long jump at 20-11.

Southeast of Saline’s Dylan Sprecker helped the Trojans roll to the 3A state title with 84 points. Sprecker won the 1,600 in 4:17.74, less than two seconds away from the state record. Sprecker won the 800 in 1:55.34, 1.14 seconds away from the state mark. He helped SES to a championship in the 3,200 relay and runner-up finish in the 1,600 relay.

SES junior Chase Poague won the 110 hurdles in 14.93 and the 300 hurdles with 39.38. He was also on the 1,600 relay.

In 4A, Chanute sophomore Rawley Chard won the 200 in 22.51 and second in the 400 at 49.64. Chanute captured the 400 relay in 43.20 and the 1,600 relay in 3:27.92.

Garden Plain boys captured the 2A crown with 73 points, 29 ahead of runner-up KC Christian. Senior Arden Rex won the 200 at 22.51 and was second in the 400 at 51.91. He also captured the triple jump (44-4) and the javelin (182-8).

Hamilton senior Kelton Buettner, featured last week on SIK at one of the state’s smallest schools, captured three golds and a silver in Class 1A. Buettner was second in the 110-meter hurdles by .01 seconds when he ran 14.92. He won the 300 hurdles in 39.87, the long jump at 21-11.25 and the triple jump in 43-11.75.

Madison junior Casey Helm won the 1A shot put in 55-4 and the discus in 164-10. Helm is looking to be one of the better 8-man football players in the state this season and was one of the best throwers in the state regardless of class this year. Madison and Hamilton (above) co-op for sports until track regionals and easily would've won state if combined w/ Buettner points. 

Riley Vandever captured the 800 and 1600 meter titles in Class 6A for Olathe South. Earlier this season Vandiver set the 1600 meter record at the prestigous SM North Relays.

Meade senior Vance Shewey won the 1A high jump in 6-10 and nearly tied the 2A record of 7-0 that had stood since Glasco’s Shane Levy in 1994.

In 4A, Augusta junior Sawyer Schmidt won the 1,600 in 4:23.44 and the 3,200 in 9:37.23.

Girard had a really good showing in 3A. Cormick Logue finished with a 3A state title in the 3200 meters and took runner up in the 1600. Teammate Aidam Damman also won the 400 meter dash while Gabe Muia second in the triple jump while Gavin Doubrava took second in the 800. Girard took second as a team in 3A their highest finish in state. Girls team member Gracie Peterson also had a second place long jump finish.

Andale senior Ty McPhail cleared 15-9 to win the 4A pole vault. He had went 16-6.75 at regionals. Andale sophomore Riley Marx won the discus in 150-3, and the javelin at 194-7.

Elijah Mosley of Wichita Heights was your 6A state chamion in the 200 and 400 meters after winning a 400 title and relay at the last meet in 2019.

Quartet with excellent double sport success

There were four athletes who enjoyed great success in two spring sports.

In 1A, Burlingame junior Daelyn Winters helped the Bearcats to a fourth-place showing in the 400 relay at 52.66 seconds. The 1,600 relay was second at 4:16.68. The 3,200 relay took fourth at 10:19.79. She was the fourth-place finisher in the high jump at 5-2. Winters was part of two  school relays.

Last Friday, she also helped the Bearcats to a state runner-up in softball to Pittsburg Colgan.

Thomas More Prep-Marian junior Jace Wentling completed a highly impressive four-sport school year. In the fall, he was TMP’s top receiver and kicker and helped the Monarchs enjoy its best season since 2002. In basketball, Wentling was a key player for TMP’s 3A Final Four team. In baseball, Wentling was by far TMP’s leading hitter with a .500 average for a 12-11 squad. Wentling was easily the Monarchs’ most experienced returning player for a team that collectively hit .281.

In track, Wentling was seeded eighth after he jumped 20-7.75 at regionals. In one of Kansas’ biggest upsets, Wentling surprisingly went 23-5.5 to win the 3A long jump, which finished as the No. 5-longest jump in Kansas. He took third in the triple jump. Wentling and TMP’s Kade Harris are expected to be one of state’s best 1-2 duo next fall.

Doniphan West sophomore Chloe Clevenger completed her well-publicized baseball/track double. Clevenger was all-state in three sports and had three top-5 team showings, including back-to-back cross country titles. Clevenger took fourth in the 3,200 run and sixth in the 1,600 relay. She ran on the 3,200 relay that won in 10:15.84. Clevenger will transfer to McPherson. Her teammate, junior Elle Williams, captured the 800 in 2:22.85.

De Soto senior Jackson Miller competed in the 5A baseball tournament and the 5A track meet last Thursday. Miller took fourth in the 100 in 10.83 and helped the 1,600 relay win in 43.46.

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