Apparently not content to rest on its first-day laurels, the Free State boys track and field team promptly picked up where it had left off the day before during Saturday’s continuation of the 2010 Kansas Relays at Memorial Stadium.
Following top-four finishes in both the 4x1,600-meter relay and distance medley relay during the meet’s opening day Friday, the Firebirds turned in arguably their most impressive race of the season, blazing to a fourth-place finish in the 4x800-meter relay Saturday morning in 8:10.10 — the fastest time logged in the state of Kansas this spring.
“We had a really nice day (Friday), but in two-day meets, especially with high school kids, you can come back the next day and not look at all like you did the day before,” said Free State coach Steve Heffernan, whose team held its own in a meet that featured high school teams from six states. “So what they did in the 4x800 today, that’s got to give them a lot of confidence.”
“They”, in this case, were Preston Newsome, Chris O’Brien, Kain Anderson and Harrison Scheib, and it’s hard to imagine the four leaving Memorial Stadium without a good amount of confidence.
Their time was nearly 30 seconds better than their time a year ago, and roughly six seconds better than they’ve clocked this spring, putting them in favorable position to battle for Free State’s fifth state title in the 4x800-meter relay when the Class 6A state meet rolls around next month.
“It would have been awesome to get a medal, but that time is pretty incredible, and I think we’re all real happy with it,” said Scheib, who also competed in the 1,600-meter run later in the day. “When you run that fast a time, it’s hard to be that close to placing, but we’re not worried about it. We’re definitely real happy with the time.”
Saturday’s finish, meanwhile, represented a redemption of sorts for the group, which suffered an unfortunate turn of events during the 4x800-meter finals in last year’s regional meet. Despite leading after five of the race’s eight laps, a botched handoff disqualified the Firebirds, costing them a spot in the state meet.
“These guys have been wanting to come back and prove that we could have made it to state last year,” Heffernan said. “And I think they’re proving they’re better than that.”
The relay highlighted what was an all-around encouraging Kansas Relays showing for Free State. In addition to Friday’s exploits by both the boys and girls teams, the Firebirds’ girls sprint medley relay team of Drue Davis, Susan Wilson, Libby Wiebe and Haley Francis took 12th in 4:36.44 Saturday, while Francis was 33rd in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:39.53.
Lawrence High’s boys 4x800-meter relay team of Jonathan Gabler, Calvin Morgan, Simon Fangman and Kyler Thomann finished 20th overall, meanwhile, while the girls (Emily Davidson, Shelby Clark, Alexis Scheibler and Michala Rudder) took 25th in the same event.
Tonganoxie’s D.J. Lindsay provided the area’s top individual finish, coming in fourth in the 400-meter dash in 49.66, and Eudora’s Justin Ballock was eighth in the 110-meter hurdles in 15.56.