SMNW boys track team wins second straight state title
It came down to the final race of the state track and field meet at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
This was the event the Shawnee Mission Northwest boys team had been waiting for all weekend. But there was more on the line for the Cougars than just a state title in this event, the 4-x-400-meter relay.
They needed to place at least one spot ahead of Olathe East in the event in order to secure their second straight state title.
And one more time, the senior quartet of Blake Evans, Luke Schnefke, Jackson Barbour and David Fancher came through.
The group mustered a 3:18.53, only a few tenths of a second behind the event winner, Wichita Southeast.
It was enough for SM Northwest to slip by Olathe East in the overall team title picture by a single point: 54 to 53.
Since securing the title last year, SM Northwest coach Mike Cooper understood he had a special group of kids that were still hungry for another championship.
“I think the back-to-back part was gigantic motivation. I don’t mean this weekend, but it started the first day of practice,” Cooper said. “They were talking about it since the last state meet.”
Cooper also said that Tim Dormandy was a big piece for the Cougars who ran in the preliminary round of the 4-x-400-meter relay.
SM Northwest also grabbed a victory in the 4-x-800-meter relay with the team of Schnefke, Evans, Barbour and Anthony Yates.
Barbour and Yates combined for a solid combination in the 800-meter open event. Barbour finished in second place (1:58.45) and Yates in fourth (1:58.84).
The strength for SM Northwest this year relied on this core group of seniors that helped push the entire team around them.
Senior Eric Pinkleman continued showing why he’s been one of the best javelin throwers in the state. He placed second with a 181-5 throw.
Cameron Bock was also shooting for the gold medal at the state meet, but fell just short with a third-place finish at 14-6. Known mostly for their runners, the Cougars’ field athletes combined for 17 points scored in the field, which proved huge for the Cougars.
The Cougars had only one top placer on the girls side of the contest in Crystal Osei. Her 15.30 in the 100-meter hurdles was good for third place.
Above everything for coach Cooper it was how his team carried themselves on and off the track. In Wichita, Cooper was complimented by for his well-behaved group, and that means as much to him as the state trophy.
“Their attitude and character was fantastic,” Cooper said.