After battling tough weather conditions last week at Washburn Rural, the Manhattan High track and field teams traveled back to Topeka for Friday’s Topeka Relays at Hummer Sports Park in near-perfect weather conditions.
The Manhattan boys won with a team score of 130, while the girls’ team took third with 106 team points.
For the boys, a balanced effort paved the way for the win, with the Indians’ depth proving to be the difference.
“We just have lots of depth and I think we’re going to be strong all the way around,” Manhattan head coach Jesse Woodard said. “We have a good group of seniors, not just with distance, but in the sprints and the throws.”
Manhattan put three athletes in the top five of both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs, with Michael Melgares winning the mile (4:34.07) and Chris Melgares winning the two-mile (9:37.07). Michael Melgares took second in the 3,200 (10:06.53), with Nick Bandy taking fifth (10:26.93). Jack Keeley finished second in the 1,600 (4:36.54), with Isaiah Koppes taking fifth (4:45.09).
“When you look at our 1,600 and we get a first, a second and a fifth, and that’s without Chris in there,” Woodard said. “Same thing in the 3,200 in the boys, we get first, second and fifth. Overall, our depth is what really stands out to me.”
The Indians also got top performances on the track out of Henry Bieber in the 200m (1st, 22.94), Christian Mack in the 100m (3rd, 11.39) Brandon Religa in the 400m (4th, 53.16) and Keeley in the 800m (5th, 2:08.77).
In the field events, Kaden Frasier did well in the high jump (4th, 6-2), while Jacob Harden (3rd, 43-9) and Sam Livsey (4th, 43-5 1/4) scored points in the triple jump.
“Kaden Frasier, he didn’t jump so well last week, so this week we wanted him to focus on high jump, and got 6-2, which is big for him,” Woodard said.
In the throws, Colton Wagner took third in the shot put (49-0 1/2), while Brandon Nowlin took second in the discus (153-3)
“Colton hit 49 yesterday, which is good for this point in the year,” Woodard said. “If he can get up over 50 consistently, he has the chance to score some points for us.”
In the relays, Manhattan got a win in the 4x800 (Chris Martin, Religa, Bandy, C. Melgares), finishing five seconds ahead of Seaman in a time of 8:25.34. In the 4x100 (Bieber, Tre Daniels, Patrick Guvele, Mack), the Indians took second (43.83) behind SM West, while the 4x400 relay (Religa, Martin, Mike Settembrino, Athen Martinez) finished third (3:31.26) behind Seaman and SM West. Manhattan did not field a 4x200 team.
For the girls, depth is less of a team strength, though Alaina Schroeder won the 3,200m (11:40.45) with Megan Ochoa right behind (3rd, 12:10.19). Schroeder also won the 1,600m (5:12.24) and the Indians had three athletes score points in each distance event.
“We don’t quite have the depth in distance like we do with the boys, but Alaina is always going to score some points for us,” he said. “And we have some good young girls.”
Mackenzie Gwinner took fifth in the 800m (2:33.86), Madison Johnson finished fifth in the triple jump (31-5) and Alex Stenberg fared well in the pole vault (5th, 8-0).
“Alex is coming back from an injury where she didn’t really get to compete last year,” Woodard said. “She’s doing some short approaches right now, so her height isn’t quite where she wants it, but she’s getting better each week.”
In the throws, Manhattan got solid scoring in the shot put, with Stephanie Shanower taking second (36-3 1/4), Kylie James in sixth (34-3) and Mykayla Moore in seventh (33-8).
In the discus, James took third (115-7), Shanower took fourth (111-11) and newcomer Ja Chel Wood took fifth (106-4).
“(Wood) moved to Manhattan this year,” Woodard said. “I think she’s just figuring it out, and if she keeps working at it, she can really help us.”
Cara Melgares, who is recovering from an injury, also made her debut in the javelin, taking fifth (103-1). When healthy, Melgares will also compete in distance running events.
“Last year I think the middle school coaches brought her up to throw javelin for a meet because they didn’t have a lot of athletes,” Woodard said. “They let her see what she could do, and were very surprised.
“To throw more than 100 feet as a freshman is a pretty good feat.”
Most of Manhattan’s varsity team will travel to Great Bend on Tuesday for a smaller midweek meet, which was added to the schedule after the Kansas Track and Field Classic in Emporia was canceled.
The rest of Manhattan’s athletes will be in Lawrence for the KU Relays over the weekend.