Athlete of the year: Alexa Harmon-Thomas, Free State High
The sophomore’s list of accomplishments this season included running the state’s fastest time in the 100 hurdles (14.45 seconds) and the fifth-fastest time in the 300 hurdles (44.93), plus the fourth-best long jump (18 feet, 2.5 inches). Though a tumble in the 100 hurdles prelims at the Class 6A state meet kept her from reaching the finals, Harmon-Thomas earned top-three finishes in three more events.
Coach of the year: Steve Heffernan, Free State
Heffernan’s Firebirds finished their season with a highly successful Memorial Day weekend trip to Wichita for the state track meet. Harmon-Thomas, Khadijah Lane, Lynn Robinson, Kiara Clark, Courtney Huffman, Brie Mingus, Bailey Sullivan and Scout Wiebe helped Free State rack up enough points to finish No. 2 in 6A.
Kaitlyn Barnes, Baldwin — Owner of four 2012 state medals, the junior anchored the Bulldogs’ 4A champion 4x800 relay team, ran the third leg for the undefeated state champion 4x400 team, finished fourth in the 800 and helped the BHS 4x100 relay team take fifth.
Emily Brigham, Mill Valley — Joined elite company as a pole vaulter this season by reaching 13 feet, the all-time record in Kansas, before finishing second in 5A at the state meet. The junior also earned state gold in the long jump with a mark of 19-3, the top jump among all classes.
Matia Finley, Lawrence — Just a freshman, the Lions newcomer made an immediate impact. Finley finished as the Sunflower League’s second-best discus thrower before winning a regional championship and placing fourth at 6A state with a personal record of 133-4.
Alexa Harmon-Thomas, Free State — Reached the finals in three of her four 6A state events, earning silver in both the high jump and 300 hurdles, and third in long jump.
Katie Kehl, Baldwin — The school record-holder in both discus (145-7) and shot put (44-4), the BHS junior won the 4A state title in discus and was runner-up in shot put (one inch behind Nickerson’s Cassie Caswell’s 44-5) after missing her sophomore season with a knee injury.
Khadijah Lane, Free State — Three times during her senior season she set a new FSHS record in the 400, with her fastest being 58.01 at 6A state, good enough for a silver medal. Lane also helped the Firebirds’ 4x400 team (sixth at state) set a new program mark three times.
Tori Marshall, De Soto — Capped a successful freshman year with a 4A state championship in the 200-meter dash (26.37), beating the four sprinters behind her by four-tenths of a second or less. Marshall also took sixth at state in the 100.
Jordan Miller, Oskaloosa — An engrossed dual-sport athlete, the senior went to 2A state and took third in shot put and fourth in discus the morning after playing third base for Oskaloosa softball in a first-round win at the state tournament. After earning her track medals, she returned to the softball diamond to play in the Bears’ third-place game.
Lynn Robinson, Free State — The senior finished her Firebirds career by medalling in each of her three state events. Robinson placed fourth in the 1,600, sixth in the 800 and was part of the sixth-place 4x400 relay team.
Jenny Whitledge, Tonganoxie — The Chieftains junior set new school records in high jump (5-6.25), long jump (17-8.5), 300 hurdles (47.1) and 100 hurdles (12.4) before successfully defending her 4A state title in the high jump.
Maddie Estell, Mill Valley; Rebecca Finley, Lawrence; Haley Griffin, Tonganoxie; Monica Howard, Lawrence; Teri Huslig, Veritas Christian; Glenn Kelley McCabe, Baldwin; Sierra Morgison, Perry-Lecompton; McKenzie Schmitt, Mill Valley.