Both the boys and girls track and field teams earned third place trophies at the Kansas 6A Track and Field State Championships at Cessna Stadium in Wichita. See story inside on page 2. Submitted photo
The Gardner-Edgerton High School Athletic Department is going to have to make quite a bit of room in the trophy cases after this past weekend, as four of its sports teams headed to KSHSAA 6A championships — and, in a historically successful weekend, all four returned with 3rd place finishes or better.
The noteworthy performances started on Thursday, with both the boys and girls track and field teams earning 3rd place trophies at the Kansas 6A Track and Field State Championships at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
The biggest story of the day was, undoubtedly, the performance of Trailblazer senior Kendra Wait, who became the Kansas 6A State Champion in four different events. Wait brought home gold in the pole vault, 100-meter dash, long jump, and shot put. In the pole vault, Wait won with a vault of 11’0”, a full foot better than 2nd and 3rd place finishers Claire Thomas of Olathe West and Jillian Klusman of Olathe North. Wait’s :12.02 finish in the 100 meters edged out 2nd place finisher Ka’Liyah McGinnis of Olathe North by .08 of a second, and 3rd place finisher Deanna Miller of Wichita Southeast by .27 of a second.
Wait’s 1st place leap of 18’5” in the long jump was more than half a foot better than Isabella Kirkwood of Lawrence, who took 2nd with a jump of 17’9”, while Hutchinson’s Sarah Schwartz’s mark of 17’7” was good enough for 3rd. Wait’s mark was all the more impressive in that the long jump was an event that Wait did not begin attempting until this season. Finally, in the shot put, Wait’s throw of 41’2.5” inches outdid 2nd place’s 39’4” from Joem Toala of Junction City and 3rd place’s 38’11.25” from Olathe West’s Addison Cline.
Led by Wait’s performance, the GEHS girls scored 56 points as a team, which tied them with fellow Sunflower League competitor Shawnee Mission Northwest for 3rd place. Olathe North took the 6A team trophy with 87.33 points, while Olathe West took 2nd with 73 points. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers were all Sunflower League teams.
On the boys’ side, the Blazers followed up their 2019 Kansas 6A State Championship with another top three performance, earning 43 points to bring home the team 3rd place trophy. Manhattan High School earned the overall team honors with 66.5 points, while Blue Valley took 2nd with 54.
In softball, GEHS entered the tournament as the 5th seed, which put them in a quarterfinal matchup against 4th-seeded Garden City at Shawnee Mission District Softball Complex on Thursday afternoon. Gardner-Edgerton downed the Buffaloes 13-3 in a run-rule shortened game, which set them up in a semifinal matchup against top-seeded and undefeated Topeka High School. In a tight pitching duel in which both defenses played nearly perfectly, the Traiblazers fell to the Trojans 1-0. Topeka High’s contest against the Blazers was the closest game the Trojans had in the tourney, as THS downed Olathe North (a team GEHS had beaten 9-3 in the regular season) 7-1 in the championship game. This resulted in the Blazers facing Sunflower League foe Lawrence Free State in the 3rd place game. Earlier in the season, the Firebirds had handed GEHS one of its few regular-season defeats. However, in the postseason, Gardner-Edgerton had the final say and grabbed the 3rd place trophy with a 2-1 victory. After the game, news was released that Joanne Calvin, the Trailblazers’ head coach had been named Sunflower League Coach of the Year.
The Blazer baseball team had Thursday’s game at the KSHSAA 6A Baseball State Championship rained out at the LaRoche baseball complex in Fort Scott, so they ended up facing their quarterfinal opponent on Friday morning at 11:00 A.M. The 2nd-seeded Trailblazers met up with 7th-seeded Topeka-Washburn Rural and downed the Junior Blues to move on to the semis, which would be played the next day at 11:00 A.M. In the semifinals, the Blazers faced off with the 3rd-seeded Panthers of Derby High School. Again, GEHS emerged victorious with a 6-4 triumph, which moved them into the State Championship game against the No. 1 seed, Blue Valley. In the title game, the two teams traded the lead until Gardner-Edgerton entered the top half of the 7th inning trailing 4-3. Despite moving the tying run into scoring position, the Trailblazers fell just short of sending the contest into the bottom half of the inning and fell by one run to the Tigers. Still, the Blazers performance was more than outstanding and led them into bringing home the state’s 2nd place trophy.
Stories on each team’s remarkable run to State will make their appearances in the next two weeks.