The GEHS Boys Track and Field team win 6A State Championship. Photo courtesy of USD 231
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner-Edgerton High School boys’ track and field team made history over Memorial Day weekend, conquering their competition — and the elements — and earning the school’s first ever team track and field State Championship at the Kansas 6A state meet in Wichita.
In a meet that lasted three days due to Mother Nature’s consistent interruptions, the Trailblazers scored 64 team points to outpace second place Blue Valley West (61 points) and third place Manhattan (51.5 points.
“It’s a culmination of several years of building the culture,” said Brian McGee, Blazers’ head coach, one day after the team’s triumphant return from Wichita. “It starts with our coaches at the middle school level and the high school level who just love track and field, and they transfer that love to the athletes. That’s why this team is so exceptional.”
To win the 6A Championship, the Trailblazers would get several exceptional physical performances from their athletes, but they would need exceptional mental/psychological performances as well. Severe weather conditions hounded the athletes all weekend long and even forced Kansas State High School Activities Association officials to add Sunday as a third day of competition for a meet that is customarily finished in two.
In fact, no 6A athletes were able to compete on the Friday of the meet. Kansas 1A-3A athletes were able to get in most of the preliminaries that day as they were scheduled for the afternoon session, but high winds and sideways rain moved in for the evening events and forced KSHSAA officials to call it a day and adjust the schedule for Saturday. However, bad weather forced events to go in fits and starts throughout the next day. One of those fits included an evacuation of the meet’s host site — Cessna Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University. Yet none of that fazed the GEHS athletes.
“We came down on Friday with the intention of having a full afternoon and evening of competition,” McGee said, “and we’re barely in the stadium when the skies open up. So, it was a mental hurdle and a physical hurdle to keep our athletes ready to compete. But our team was unflappable. We were loose on the bus and in the stadium. SaeVheon and TaeVheon Alcorn were a second away from competing in the open 200- meter dash when we had the stadium evacuation. They had to shut down and come back tomorrow. They had to sleep on that. It was difficult, but they were not fazed. Nobody was trying to be bigger than themselves. They understood their role. This was a team of supermen.”
Nearly every member of the Gardner-Edgerton boys’ contingent helped score points for the Blazers’ championship. Senior Colton Goodman was the team’s lone individual state champion, as he claimed gold in the pole vault at 14’0”. Goodman was GEHS vault coach Thane Nonamaker’s sixth Blazer State Champion. The 4×100 relay team of the senior Alcorn brothers and juniors Teven McKelvey and Jakob Renaud ran a GEHS school-record time of 42.44 to take second in their event.
Perhaps the MVP performance of the weekend came from senior distance runner Trenton Cochran who scored 12 points for the Blazers by earning third place finishes in both the 1600 meters (in a time of 4:27.17) and the 3200 meters (9:38.0).
“There’s so much strategy in those races,” stated McGee. “It’s very tactical with all the surges and responses, when to run with the pack, etc. Trenton is the ultimate competitor. He knew he couldn’t do something selfish. He knew what we needed points-wise. We had him projected at 8-10 points and he got us 12. Afterwards, he had the perfect mindset. He was just so happy to contribute and to be a huge part of the team piece. For him, it was just so cool to see this pursuit for a team state championship come to fruition.”
McKelvey also proved to be valuable to the GEHS point total. Besides being part of the second place 4×100 team, McKelvey earned six more points towards the team total by earning the bronze in the triple jump with a leap of 44’10.5”.
Other point-earners for the Trailblazers included junior Mitch Lumley, whose 1:58.67 set a new GEHS school record in the 800 meters and was good enough for a fourth place State finish. Lumley added to that when he combined with the Alcorn brothers and senior A.J. Bohon for a fourth place finish in the 4×400-meter relay at a time of 3:24.69. Junior Dayton Williams added his own 4th place finish when he cleared 6’2” in the high jump, while senior Jacob Serrioz added to the GEHS point total with his fourth place javelin throw of 179’4”.
Rounding out the point earners for the Blazers were the sixth place 4×800 relay team of Lumley, sophomore Quentin Walion, sophomore Owen Massaro, and Bohon (8:18.92), SaeVheon Alcorn with his 6th place in the 200 meters (:22.62), senior Nick Allen with an eighth place throw in the javelin at 158’2”, and senior Chandler Hernandez with an eighth place leap in the triple jump at 42’4.75”.
“These boys didn’t lose a single meet all season,” McGee stated. Except for the first meet of the season we were never healthy, but it was just an attitude of ‘next man up’. They cheered on each other. They learned what it took to be varsity teammates. It was a magical season and the character of the guys was unmatched.”