MHS girls, boys fourth at state track

By Joel Jellison

WICHITA — Mari Jo Massanet finally got that elusive state title on Saturday at Cessna Stadium. And then she won another.

The MHS senior won titles in the discus and shot put to win the first two state track titles of her illustrious sports career and scored 20 points for the Manhattan High girls’ team.

The MHS girls finished fourth in Class 6A with 44 points, while the boys’ team scored 36 and also finished fourth.

MHS coach Jesse Woodard said it was tough for the girls’ team to miss the podium by just four points. The MHS girls haven’t finished in the top three since 2003.

“Obviously, it was a little disappointing to miss the podium by a few points again, but I think we outperformed what we thought we were going to do,” he said. “I thought we could get third with less points, and we got more than I thought we would.”

Massanet claimed the first state title of her career with a first-place finish in the discus with a distance of 144-05, setting a new personal record by 10 feet and winning by 4 feet.

Massanet said she had goose bumps when she released the personal-best throw, but had to calm herself down to keep going. But she didn’t stop there.

Massanet hit 40-08.25 on her first throw in the shot put and 40-09 on her second, while no other performer went for more than 40 feet, notching the second medal of her career.

Her only regret in the shot, was that she wished she could have thrown a little further. But she said it was a nice way to cap a decorated four-year career at MHS.

“It’s an awesome way to end my career as an Indian,” she said. “It just tops everything that’s happened over the past four years.”

Woodard said she was great in both events.

“Her discus was outstanding and I think she tired out a little for the shot, but everyone was tired and she was the best one out there,” he said. “She was the best one even when she was tired.”

Massanet took two of the three individual titles for Manhattan, as Logan Mahan was first in the long jump on Friday, defending his state title from 2011.

Woodard said there isn’t a much better way for two seniors to finish out their careers.

“It’s nice to have state champions, two for her, and Logan was a two-time state champion — those are nice ways to end your career,” he said.

Alaina Schroeder just missed a medal in the 1,600-meter run, running with a time of 5:12.39. She trailed Shawnee Mission West’s Alli Cash by quite a distance, though, as she broke the meet record by nearly 3 seconds with a time of 4:52.31.

Ben Bolton was edged in his quest to win the 110 hurdles, getting beat by Garden City’s Jonathan Duvall. Bolton’s time was 14.61, while Duvall was clocked at 14.51.

Bolton was fifth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 41.49, while Colt Skidmore finished in sixth at 41.94. The winning time came from Duvall at 39.05.

Woodard said it was as motivated as he’s seen Bolton run the 300 all season. He said he felt for the senior after his close loss in the 110 meters.

“I was disappointed for him because I thought he could have gotten first in the 110, but he hit one hurdle and lost it, it was that tight of a race,” Woodard said. “But I’m very proud of what he’s done this season.”

The MHS boys’ 4x800 relay scored two points for the cause with a sixth-place finish from the group of Evan Williams, Warren Scipio, James LeBlow and Chris Martin at a time of 8:12.61.

Freshman Tia Cook finished seventh in the 6A girls’ long jump with a distance of 17-01.75. She out-jumped teammate Tarian Reeves by a foot, who just missed medaling in eighth.

Emilie Liebe ended the day for Manhattan with a fourth-place finish in the 800 with a time of 2:21.14.

Throughout the season, Woodard hoped his team would hit its stride at the right time and told them it was about performing their best in the last three weeks of the year. He said he thought they succeeded in that goal.

“I preached to them all year that we wanted to peak the last few weeks of the season, and kids got better and better every week,” Woodard said. “The kids went out and ran their butts off and did as good as they could do — job well done.”

It was Woodard’s first year as the MHS coach, taking over for Gary Schwandt, who retired.

Woodard said he hoped they could reach the podium, but noted they would soon be focused on making a run next year.

“Obviously, I wanted to place my first year in the top three, and that didn’t happen, but we will go out and work harder and try to do it next year,” he said.

The MHS coach said they have a lot of kids coming back to help them make another run at the podium. He said the biggest lesson learned this weekend was the value of a point.

“It’s a lesson learned for the kids that every point matters,” he said. “You have to fight for everything, but I was very proud of the boys and girls.”

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