Mill Valley, SJA track squads shine at Ottawa Relays
Mill Valley track and field started off its season on the right foot, taking home two top-placed team finishes at the Ottawa Invitational on Friday.
The boys grabbed the team title with a total score of 163 points, outpacing Paola’s 102 points.
“I think it gives us confidence going in, and I think our kids know if they practice really hard they’ll be in the hunt for another league title,” boys coach Chris Dunback said.
The Jaguars had contributions from several athletes, but the ones that stood out included senior Ashton Proctor, who secured victories in the 200- and 400-meter dashes.
Proctor is a four-year varsity runner for Mill Valley, and every season he has continued to progress. This year, he is being looked upon as a senior leader.
“I’ve watched him grow since he was a freshman, and he’s always been a skilled kid,” Dunback said. “He’s really dedicated to running.”
One of the better team accomplishments of the day was Proctor anchoring the 4-x-400-meter relay team that also included Keenan Ford, C.J. Meeks and Jack Lopez.
The team ended up taking first place after Proctor made up some time on the home stretch.
Other top placers for the Jaguars included senior Connor Mehalovich who posted a time of 10:52.5 to win the 3,200-meter relay.
Although it’s early in the season, Dunback feels confident that this young group of runners and athletes can put together another run at the league title and possibly more.
In fact, the Jaguars will unveil banners for their 25 league and regional championships at the home meet on Thursday.
Dunback expects this will serve as motivation for this year’s squad.
“Hopefully that motivates them and they can see that and kind of remember the past and honor the tradition,” Dunback said.
The Mill Valley girls posted a fairly solid meet as well, notching a second-place finish with a 162.5 team score that included five individual winners.
Highlighting that group was junior Emily Brigham, who pole vaulted 12-foot-6, one of the best marks in Kansas state history according to her coach, Mark Peck.
Brigham also went on to take home first place in the long jump with a mark over 17 feet.
Other individuals who contributed included junior Joy Kennedy, whose javelin throw of 120 feet, 7 inches won the individual event.
She also placed second in the shot put.
On the track side, senior Katie Strickland took home first in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 12:36.93.
She placed second in the 1,600-meter run with a 5:46.73 mark.
The other top finisher for the Jaguars was junior Maddie Estell, whose 5-foot-1 high jump gave her first place.
“We we’re really pleased with our first meet, we have a lot of work to do still and we’ll get better as the year goes on,” Peck said.
St. James boys and girls finish 4th and 5th
With several injuries and a difficult field to begin with, it appeared to be an uphill battle for the St. James track team at the Ottawa Invitational.
But the Thunder still put together a fairly competitive group of runners to finish with a solid showing.
The girls team finished in fourth with 62.5 points, and the boys team finished fifth with 73 points.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out what we have and get better meet-to-meet,” coach Rich Weitz said.
On the boys side, junior John Scherschligt posted first place in the 800-meter dash with a 02:05.1 performance.
Sophomore Donnie Goode grabbed the 300-meter hurdles crown with a 43.73-second split.
Junior Adam Perkins finished with a 14-foot pole vault to grab the event title.
On the girls side junior Alexa VanLerberg was the lone individual winner, posting 5:40.46 in the 1,600-meter run.
“She is a tremendous role model for our kids and she just goes out there and does what she does and runs smart,” Weitz said.
Overall, the Thunder’s teams were pleased with their performances, but they realize the team must get healthy to compete against some of the best teams in 4A.
“It certainly gives us an idea of seeing where we’re at against some quality competition,” Weitz said. “Even though it’s early in the season, it’s nice to know what’s out there and see what we need to shoot for.”