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Archive for Monday, June 2, 1997

SKAKAL CHERISHES STATE SUCCESS

June 2, 1997

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David Humbarger (high jump, triple jump), Andy Pelsma (3,200) and Jake Skakal (javelin) won title for the LHS boys. LHS girls winners were Kizzie Ricks in the 300 hurdles and 100 hurdles, and the 4x800 relay and 4x400 relay teams.

When visitors check out Lawrence High's trophy case, they'll never know the Lions' boys track and field team tied for first at the 1997 Class 6A state meet with Wichita Southeast.

LHS track coach Jerry Skakal will make sure of that after the plaque is complete with the team photo.

"We're not going to put Wichita Southeast in the picture with us," Skakal said on Sunday, a day after the LHS boys capped a successful weekend at Cessna Stadium in Wichita. "We're state champs. Nobody else beat us."

The Lions and Wichita Southeast both compiled 60 points for the first tie in 6A track history.

"We were ahead all day," said Skakal, whose team entered Saturday's sessions with 22 points. "They had the opportunity to win outright and we had ours."

Skakal and the rest his team nervously watched the 4x400 relay, the meet's final event. A first- or second-place finish by Wichita Southeast in the relay would have dipped Lawrence to second. Southeast led the race before dropping the baton on the third exchange.

Winners for the LHS boys were seniors David Humbarger (high jump, triple jump), Andy Pelsma (3,200) and Jake Skakal (javelin). Humbarger won both his events on Friday. Pelsma and Skakal claimed their events early Saturday to put the Lions in position to win.

On Friday night, coach Skakal informed his team that it was in the hunt.

"That got them excited because we weren't asking them to do anything superhuman," he said. "We asked them to compete like Lions."

Junior Jerreme Jackson placed third in the long jump with a personal best of 21 feet, 11 1/2 inches to account for six points.

"You always think he can jump further," coach Skakal said. "We were counting on maybe one point from him."

Lawrence scored in 11 events. Humbarger, Pelsma, Jon Penny and Gabe Anderson scored in two apiece.

"I like to do well as a team," Skakal said. "I think when you get caught up in that team concept it is more meaningful."

In the girls meet, Lawrence placed second with 50 points. Leavenworth, the defending state champion, won with 69.

Winners for the LHS girls were junior Kizzie Ricks in the 300 hurdles and 100 hurdles, the 4x800 relay and 4x400 relay. Ricks led off the 4x400 relay and her 45.53 time in the 300 hurdles set a school record, breaking her time from Friday's preliminaries.

In two state meet meets, Ricks has collected five medals. Last year, she placed second in the 100 hurdles and was on Lawrence's runner-up 4x400.

Ricks, Eniola Ajayi, Lori Yoder and Kristin Brune all ran personal bests to win the 4x400 in 3:57.54 to tie a school record. Ajayi's leg was a blazing 56.65.

The 4x800 relay team of Lori Yoder, Joanna Kueker, Betsy Lee and Brune finished in 9:38.72 to shatter the school record by eight seconds.

Brune, who ran a 2:19.5 anchor leg on that relay, survived a grueling day. She placed fourth in the 400 and 800 in addition to running the two relays.

"She was awake the whole way home (late Saturday night)," said Skakal, still gushing about Brune's effort. "She was getting upset when somebody passed us on the highway."

Before the weekend, Lawrence's boys hadn't placed first at state since 1991. The LHS girls placed in the top three for the second straight year.

"Lawrence kids show up for big meets," said Skakal, completing his third year with the Lions. "We really couldn't have asked a whole more out of them."

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