Finley sisters lead LHS girls track squad

Lawrence High juniors Rebecca and Matia Finley root for the other to do well in the discus and shot put. Each just hopes she does a little bit better than her sister.

Rebecca Finley set a school record in the discus at a meet in late April, only for her twin sister Matia to beat her mark in the next meet.

“It does get a little competitive, but if one of us is down, we always try to pick the other one up,” said Rebecca Finley, who won a Sunflower League title last week in the shot put and finished second to Matia in the discus. “But there’s like that little competitive side of us.”

The Finley twins and the rest of the Lions’ track and field team will participate in regionals at 3 p.m. today at Shawnee Mission South. The top four placers in each event will earn a spot in next week’s state meet.

Though the twins are likely their own best competition in the discus, their favorite event, their competitiveness never puts a strain on their relationship. Matia and Rebecca Finley finished 1-2 at state last year.

“I don’t think we blame each other. We just blame ourselves if we threw bad,” Matia Finley said. “We’re more like congratulatory if the other one beats us. We don’t get mad at each other at all.”

“The first time last year when one of them beat the other in finals on her last throw,” LHS coach Jack Hood added, “I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, here’s the meltdown.’ And they were just as happy for each other as two sisters could be. All they want to do is be successful, and they want both of them to be successful. It’s neat to be around.”

The girls’ track and field team returns plenty of state qualifiers from last year, including Kennedy Dold in the pole vault, Jensen Edwards in the 400 meters and the defending state champion 4×400 relay team.

There are also several girls who finished in the top five in the Sunflower League and have a solid chance for a spot at state: Kyleigh Severa in the long jump, Caroline Dykes in the javelin and Caitlin Broadwell in the triple jump.

Hood hopes the boys’ team can also send a few more athletes to state after only two qualified last year — senior Erik Parrish and sophomore JD Woods. Parrish (triple jump), Dearion Cooper (110-meter hurdles), Tae Shorter (long jump) and Alex Jones (shot put) finished in the top five at the Sunflower League meet.

Free State boys

The boys on Free State High’s track and field team know how much attention the girls’ team received after its state championship last year.

That doesn’t take away from their own goals at regionals, which begin today at noon at FSHS.

Senior Trevor Hillis has dominated this season in the pole vault, setting a school record and winning a Sunflower League title. He fell just shy of state last year, taking fifth at regionals, but is confident because he’ll get to vault on the equipment with which he practices.

“It helps a lot,” Hillis said. “Having the elevated runway and just being able to be used to it and comfortable on it is always nice because it changes things. You move a lot faster down it. It just helps being comfortable with what you’re given.”

Senior Stan Skwarlo, junior Ryan Liston, sophomore Tanner Hockenbury and sophomore Ethan Donley finished in the top 10 at the Sunflower League meet in distance races, as did Avin Lane, Tyler O’Dell and Elijah Harvey in sprints.

In throwing events, senior Lucas Werner (javelin) and junior Nick Hocking (discus) hope for return trips to the state.

“It’s nice to have the guys having some of those performances to get to be excited about,” FSHS coach Jordan Rose said. “We have a really young guys team, so I think that team of juniors and sophomores is really going to start progressing and getting better and better as the next few years go.”