Archive for Thursday, May 28, 1998


May 28, 1998


Kizzie will get busy this weekend.

Lawrence High senior Kizzie Ricks, the defending Class 6A state girls champion in the 100 high hurdles and 300 low hurdles, will compete in four events at the state track and field meet on Friday and Saturday at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.

Besides both hurdles events, Ricks will run the 200 and a leg on the Lions' 4x100 relay team. Including preliminaries, Ricks figures to run eight races at the two-day meet.

``I'm psyched up,'' Ricks said. ``They're all after me (in the hurdles). I'll run the best I can and the best I know how to.''

Ricks holds the school record in the 100 hurdles (14.4), 300 hurdles (45.19) and 200 (24.87). The 200 is a new event for the hurdle specialist and provides extra points in the team race.

``I'm so greedy that I want every point I can get,'' LHS track coach Jerry Skakal said.

The 5-foot-8 Ricks, who glides with her long strides, doesn't mind the extra event. In fact, she believes the sprint better prepares her for the hurdles.

``I love doing it and I'm glad coach put me there,'' Ricks said of the 200. ``It's not that bad of race. It helps me run the curve on my 300s.''

Ricks, named after her father's grandmother, comes from an athletic family. Her father, Wayne, played defensive back at Kansas University in the late 70s, and her uncle Mike Ricks was a member of KU's All-American 4x400 relay team in 1980 and owns the Jayhawks' fifth-best mark in the 400-meter hurdles.

``She has great parents who are athleticially-inclined,'' Skakal said. ``They really have their feet on the ground. They're so supportive.''

Ricks sat out the Sunflower League meet two weeks ago to heal a strained quadricep.

``To me that was a no-brainer,'' Skakal said. ``All she is going to do is reaggravate her leg and not get any work done.''

Ricks didn't skip a beat, winning the hurdles and placing third in the 200 last week at the Class 6A regional at Shawnee Mission North District Stadium.

``She has an inner confidence and calm about her,'' Skakal said. ``She knows how to handle pressure and have fun.''

Part of that calmness comes from her interest in classical music. Ricks has played the viola since fifth grade.

The state meet will cap a thrilling week for Ricks. She spoke at Lawrence High's graduation on Sunday.

``That was a real privilege,'' said Ricks, who will run the hurdles next year at Tennessee State in Nashville. ``There were a lot of tears and I almost started crying myself.''

Ricks won't be alone in the hurdles at state. Sophomore Betsy Willhite and junior Meghan Graham will join Ricks in the 300 hurdles.

When Ricks missed the league meet, Willhite stepped up and won the 300 hurdles. She called her senior teammate an inspiration afterwards.

``I feel like the mom,'' Ricks said. ``I can count on them and they can count on me. It's turned into a family for me the past three years. I feel good about her looking up to me because that tells me I'm doing something right.''

-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is

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