LHS track ready for fast foes at regional meet
As fast as he was running during the 200-meter finals at the Kaw Valley League meet, Lansing High School junior Jeff Slater couldn't help but give a shout-out to the guy who ran even faster.
"Where'd that come from?" Slater shouted to Mill Valley's Justin Woods after Woods blazed to victory in 22.43 seconds. Slater was second in 23.02 on the wet track, but owns a career-best time of 22.7.
Slater is one of the state's fastest 200-meter runners, but his race with Woods was a mere tune-up compared to what he will see at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Class 5A regional meet at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka.
Slater likely will run the
100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, as well as the 400-meter relay. Woods won't be there Friday, but many of the state's fastest sprinters will, including Highland Park's Jared Huske, arguably the fastest sprinter and hurdler in the state.
Huske has run all three of Slater's events in the past, although it is not clear if he will be in all three races Friday. Either way, Slater said he would have his work cut out for him.
Slater said he wasn't too concerned about whether he qualifies in the 100, but he wants to go to state in the other two individual events.
"I just want to get down to state, get it over with and see what I can do because I really think I can medal in two events," he said.
The challenge for Slater will be juggling both the 200 and 400. At meets where he hasn't run the 400, he has run a faster time in the 200. That concerned Slater because he is on the bubble for the 400.
"I really do want to go in the 400, but it's going to be the coaches' decision on whether I do both the 200 and 400 because my better event is the 200," he said. "With a 52.1, I'm going to be ranked fourth (in the 400). The only problem is if I get fifth in the 400, then that will hurt my chances in the 200, but if I get fourth in the 400 and top four in the 200, then everything will work out well."
Slater won't be the only Lion forced to deal with Huske. Senior Ethan Nalker will race Huske in the 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. Nalker placed second in the 300s and third in the 110s at the KVL meet but said Friday will be tougher. He likely will be seeded fifth or sixth entering both races. That's why, even if he doesn't upset any higher-seed hurdlers, Nalker said he will be satisfied if he runs the best races of his career.
"I'd be happy even if I don't beat them out. As long as I get a PR I'll be happy," Nalker said. "All I ever do is run my own race, and I'm satisfied with getting better."
The boys' 400-meter relay team of Slater, Lance Fink, E.J. Corinealdi and Mike Griffin is one the fringe for a state berth, LHS coach Errol Logue said. So is senior javelin thrower Neal Watson. Watson, a four-year thrower, has turned in the best performances of his career in recent weeks, including a personal record throw of 156-3 that was good for second place at league. Logue said that put Watson in contention for state.
"He has been a real surprise, but he's really come on this year," Logue said of Watson. "Anywhere from 155 to 160 in our regional has got a shot."
The girls' field should be equally difficult, but LHS has its share of state hopefuls. The leading state contenders are freshman Takeisha Jenkins, junior Amanda Radovich and seniors Tiffany Turner and Sara Eustice.
Jenkins has posted some of the fastest times in the state this year in the 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles and the 200-meter dash. She also runs a leg of the 400-meter relay with teammates Laura Abramovitz, Natalie Groves and Eustice.
Eustice, a two-time state medalist and three-time league champion, should be the favorite to win the pole vault at regionals. Radovich medaled at state in the javelin last year and placed second at league on May 11. Turner went to state in the shot put last year and already has broken her own school record in that event three times this year. Her season-best throw of 37-11 1/2, which earned her first place at the KVL meet, would have placed fourth at the Class 5A state meet last year.
Logue said he was confident those girls can earn state trips because they have performed well in pressure situations before.
"Those gals all have been there before and they're performing very well now," Logue said.