Topping last year's performance at the state track and field meet would be tough for Lawrence High.
In 1997, the LHS boys tied for first and the LHS girls placed second at the state meet. Like last year, LHS coach Jerry Skakal has noticed his team peaking when it counts.
``For the last three years our kids have competed very well late in the season,'' Skakal said. ``When I walked up and down those halls four years ago, it didn't take me long to say, `I've got to have me a trophy from state.' The kids see that too and it's important for them to measure up.
``Maybe there's a lot more to be said about that tradition than we've sometimes really understand. It's a great thing to have.''
Both the LHS girls and boys have entries in nine events for this weekend's meet at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium. According to Skakal's calculations based on regional performances, the Lion girls should be in the hunt for a team trophy -- award to the top three finishers.
LHS senior Kizzie Ricks, defending state champion in the 100 high hurdles and 300 low hurdles, could score a chunk of points. She also has qualified in the 200 and will run on the 4x100 relay team.
The 300 hurdles is a critical event for the LHS girls. Sophomore Betsy Willhite, a league champ in that event two weeks ago, and junior Meghan Graham also will run in the event. Graham, who played soccer for LHS, joined the team late in the season.
Sophomore Chris Williams headlines the LHS boys. Williams swept the 1,600 and 3,200 at the league and regional meets. He also placed third at regionals in the 800 -- a new event for him -- to qualify in three events at state.
Williams did research in the 800 before telling his coach he wanted to run that event.
``He's checking the Internet and he can name more people than I can name,'' Skakal said. ``He said coach, `I really believe I can score in the 800 at the state meet.' He just doesn't show up (at regional). He's out there competing and confident. He knew he exactly what he wanted to do every lap of every race.''
LHS senior Jerreme Jackson also is coming on, winning the long jump with a third in the long jump as a junior.
LHS senior Gabe Anderson, fifth in the 110 hurdles at state last year, will try to improve on that placing this weekend.
In the Class 5A state meet, Free State High has five entries from both the boys' and girls' teams.
``I'm happy to be able to take this many people to state to get some experience down there and come back with some confidence for next year,'' FSHS coach Steve Heffernan said. ``The people that are going, they stand a very good chance of doing very well. It's going to be exciting.''
The Firebird boys qualified in three field events and two relays.
Jamie Reed, a regional champ last week in the high jump with a 5-foot-4 mark, headlines the FSHS girls. Alyssa Humbarger qualified in the javelin and shot put.
Sophomore Betsy Lee, who ran on Lawrence High's winning 4x800 relay team at state last year, will run the 800 and on Free State's 4x800 team.
``Since we're kind of young we're kind of nervous,'' Lee said. ``It's my second state meet, but it's everyone else's first. So we're all kind of nervous, getting over the jitters, but we're pretty confident.''
-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is email@example.com.