GEHS girls win state track meet
The Gardner Edgerton High School Lady ‘Blazers made school history May 29 capturing their first ever 5A state track and field championships title at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
GEHS won the 5A title in dominant fashion dethroning defending state champion Shawnee Heights by a 105-63 margin. Mill Valley finished third with 47.5 and Hays, fourth with 43 points.
“All season we’ve had the team concept and balance,” said Coach Larry Ward, who also guided the 2003 boys cross country team to a state title. “You really can’t point to just one kid or event. There are so few events we don’t have covered.”
Things got off to a great start on day one with freshman Cassie Wait clearing a state record pole vault of 12’0″. She cleared 12’0″ on her second attempt, which gave her the tie-breaker versus Wichita Bishop Carroll’s Cera Detmer.
Fellow freshman Dani Plank followed with a state title in the javelin (142’1″). After day one, GEHS trailed by a slim 32.5-28 margin versus Mill Valley.
GEHS took control on day two adding four more golds to finish 42 points ahead of runner-up Heights.
“We won five individual titles and one relay,” Ward added, “and we scored in all the events we qualified in.”
Jalisa Brice started day two of competition with an early morning gold-medal triple jump effort. Although hampered by a strained quad muscle, Brice managed a first place and school-record leap of 38’2″. She defeated arch-rival Sarah Kolmer of Emporia on her last jump.
“Jalisa’s injury was a concern,” Ward admitted. “But she worked through it and came up with a big victory. She kept battling and delivered on the last jump.”
Brice’s win provided momentum and GEHS rolled to the title.
From there, seniors Clarissa Johnson and Natalie Morerod took control with state titles. Johnson scored an upset in the 800 clocking 2:19.49. With a backstretch kick, Johnson clipped defending state champ, Miege’s Anna Church, by just 0.02 seconds for the win.
“Best race of the day,” said Ward. “She never gave up and reached back for extra down the backstretch.”
Equally impressive was Morerod, who finished first in the 300 hurdles in a time of 44:07. Chanel Davis added pivotal third-place points in 46.93.
Davis subbed for an ailing Brice in the 1600 relay. She teamed with Brittany Parks, Morerod and Johnson to take the title in 4:00.73.
Morerod also took second in the 400 meters in a time of 58.56. Freshman Ashlee Bilhimer took second in the javelin with a throw of 131’2″.
Johnson added fourth-place points in the 100 hurdles in 15.68 and Hannah Schneider’s personal best shot put of 39’11″ was good enough for fifth place. Brice took sixth in the 200 meters in 27.05.
The 3200 relay of Isabella Mullins, Parks, Johnson, and Morerod took third in a school-record 9:44.83. The 400 relay of Brice, Parks, Courtney Allen, and Wait took third in 50.09. Tessa Curbow cleared 5’0″ in the high jump for ninth place.
The state crown capped a record-setting season by the Lady ‘Blazers. GEHS won team titles at Shawnee Heights, Shawnee Mission South, Olathe Invitational, Blazer Invitational, and a fourth straight Frontier League title and regional 4A title.
“We’ve had a school record set at every meet except SM North,” Ward said. “We asked a lot of the kids through the season and they responded. They stepped up every week to the competition.”
Ward was particularly pleased with seniors Morerod and Johnson:
“We will really miss our seniors Morerod and Johnson. They provided so much leadership and led by example. They had great race demeanor and groomed the underclassmen well.”
Ward also credited assistant coaches John Yockey (sprints, discus), Daryl Wait (high jump), John McIntire (utility, sprints, jumping events), Mike Gunderson (weight events), Thane Nonamaker (pole vault), and Kale Catt (volunteer) for the state title success.
Ward worked closely with head boys coach Brian McGee throughout the season as well.
Lady ‘Blazers State Champions 2010
Javelin – Dani Plank – 142’1″
Pole Vault – Cassie Wait – 12’0″ (New 5A state record)
Triple Jump – Jalisa Brice – 38’1″
800 meters – Clarissa Johnson – 2:19.49
300 hurdles – Natalie Morerod – 44.07
1600 relay – Chanel Davis, Brittany Parks, Natalie Morerod, Clarissa Johnson – 4:00.13.