All eyes on Parr at regionals
Samantha Parr was keeled over with her hands on her knees and gasping for air when teammates swarmed her.
Parr, a Lansing High senior, had just finished running the third leg of the 1,600-meter relay at the Kaw Valley League meet on May 10. During her sprint around the track, she'd moved the Lions from a distant fifth place to a solid second before the they ultimately placed third.
The question was asked again and again: "What was your time?"
"Samantha ran a 53," teammate E.J. Corinealdi said.
His answer was greeted by looks of shock. Sharing that look was Parr, who shot back "No I didn't!"
Corinealdi's response: "Well, it sure seemed that fast."
It has become commonplace to see stunned looks on Parr's teammates' faces after watching her compete in the 1,600-meter relay. Her loop around the track is always the fastest on the team, and some sort of eye-popping comeback usually takes place.
Simply put, the Samantha Parr Show has been one of the biggest hits this season for LHS track.
"She's tremendous," LHS coach Errol Logue said. "She's so much fun to watch. And then she's such a great team leader. I fail to mention her enough, but she's just terrific."
For Parr, the successes this season - which includes a fifth-place finish in the 400 at the KVL meet - have been a long time coming. Her standout sophomore season was derailed when illness slowed her down at regionals.
"I was actually sick at regionals and I ran a 65 (seconds)," Parr said. In all likelihood, the illness cost her a trip to state. Her best times that year were in the 63-second range - the same times the state qualifiers ran that season.
Tragedy struck again the next year when she was sidelined for the entire season with a broken foot. It symbolized both a lost opportunity and lost time. Missing that season fueled Parr's desire to qualify for state even more. This year, she vowed that no illness or injury would slow her down.
LHS sprint coach Melissa Cappel said Parr's determination has been evident all season.
"She's been such a hard worker, and that's really driven the entire team when it comes to long 500 and 600 (meter) workouts," Cappel said. "I just have so much respect for her work ethic. This has been a fantastic year for her. I wish I had her another year."
Parr started the season running in the 68- to 70-second range in the 400, but she broke into the 63-second range for the first time this season when she ran a 1:03.35 at the KVL meet. She was in the 63-second range again when she ran her lap of the 1,600-meter relay.
Now it's down to the wire for Parr. She will take her final shot at qualifying for state at 4 p.m. Friday when she and her LHS teammates travel to the Class 5A regional meet in Topeka. For Parr, she simply wants to qualify for state, whether in the 400-meter dash, the 1,600-meter relay or both.
"I've just got to give it all I can because I really want to go to state," she said. "It's my last chance."
Cappel has analyzed the times of other runners who will be at the regional meet. She said Parr likely would be seeded fifth, sixth or seventh in the 400. She didn't know how the relay team stacked up. The top four individuals or teams in each event qualify for state.
"I think she has it in her. I really do," Cappel said of Parr. "It's going to be a challenge for her, but she needs that competition in her heat. She's been in the wrong heat several times, and that's been tough on her times. She'll see that (competition), no doubt."
SLATER, SITTENAUER WIN KVL TITLES
Lansing High senior Jeff Slater won the Kaw Valley League title in the 400-meter dash in 51.51 seconds. Sophomore Matt Sittenauer won the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 11 3/4 inches.