Jenkins, Slater blaze toward state
When it comes to track and field, Takeisha Jenkins isn't a dreamer. She's a doer.
Jenkins, Lansing High's freshman hurdling phenom, came out for track with expectations of winning a lot of races. That's exactly what she's done since her first varsity meet on April 1 at Baldwin.
Jenkins has set the school record in the 300-meter hurdles three times so far this season. She's less than a second away from setting records in her other two individual events - the 100-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash. Prior to her races Friday at the Shawnee Mission North Relays, she hadn't been beat by anyone in either hurdle event and had lost just once in the 200.
Her times ranked among the best in the state in all three events, but Jenkins wanted some competition. She found it at North, a meet that for years has been considered by many to be the state championships of Northeast Kansas. Jenkins placed second in the 300 hurdles, losing by one one-hundredth of a second to Leavenworth's Salena Burns, and she placed sixth in her other two events.
The losses sat well with Jenkins because the competition helped her improve her times.
"I enjoyed it because I wanted to get beat, but then I didn't," Jenkins said, citing the fact she knew she needed opponents to make her go faster. "I wanted competition and that's what I got, so I really liked it because it pushed me more."
Jenkins has her sights set on qualifying for state in all three events at the Class 5A regional meet May 20 at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka. She also hopes to qualify in the 400-meter relay with teammates Laura Abramovitz, Sara Eustice and Natalie Groves.
Jenkins' times may be some of the fastest in Kansas, but she said she wasn't satisfied yet.
"I want to go to state, and one of my goals is to beat the rest of the records for the rest of my events," she said.
Her best times so far this year are 15.62 seconds in the 100 hurdles, 26.35 seconds in the 200 meters and 46.65 seconds in the 300 hurdles. Her 300 time was set at North and knocked nearly three-tenths of a second off her previous best time.
Jenkins isn't the lone LHS speedster with sights set on state, though. Junior Jeff Slater has quietly blazed his way to a stellar season.
He has knocked tenths of a second off his 400-meter time, become faster in the 200 meters and even given the 100-meter dash a try for the first time in his prep career.
Slater's 100 time at the Tonganoxie Invitational was 11.11 seconds - a mark good enough to put him in the running for a state berth. Regardless of how he progresses in the 100, though, Slater said he thought he had a good shot at qualifying for state in both the 200 and 400 meters. He has run in the upper 22-second range multiple times in the 200 and placed third at North in 22.8. Slater has dipped his 400 time as low as 52.2. He said if he could qualify for state in both, the Cessna Stadium track in Wichita likely could provide the conditions necessary to run even faster.
"The two times I've been to state I've actually done PR's (personal records) both times," he said. "That's why I'm so worried about getting there. Once I get there I end up with so much momentum and so much excitement that I end up running a great time."
"If I can get there in the 400, I really think I can do something this year because the last two years I came in at a 52 (second-split on the 1,600-meter relay) and then I got down to state and ran a 50-second split in the 4X400."
The regional field is expected to be stacked with fast runners. Most notably will be Highland Park sprinter Jared Huske, owner of the fastest time in the state in the 100 (10.4) and 200 (21.5).
"At regionals, I don't care if I get second or fourth," Slater said. "If I can just get (to state) I know once I get down there I'll have fresher legs and I'll really be able to get my times down. The biggest thing is just getting there."