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MHS girls win at Salina track meet

By Grant Guggisberg

The Manhattan High track and field team took it easy on Friday at the Salina Central Invitational, but still managed to come up with a team win.

While the boys’ team has finished higher in most meets this year, it was the girls that brought home the team title in Salina, finishing with 105 team points to finish ahead of Salina Central’s 91 points for first place. The boys took second with 114 points, behind Hays, which won with 137.

Manhattan head coach Jesse Woodard likes to use this meet to rest many of his athletes and run off events in preparation for next week’s Centennial League meet in Topeka.

“We didn’t really run anybody very hard,” Woodard said. “We weren’t pushing, we weren’t too worried about team points. I think if we’d have run normal events, we probably would have come out with a victory, but it’s not a big deal.

“On the girls’ side, I was surprised we came out on top, because we didn’t have Stephanie Shanower or Kylie James, because of an AP test and a wedding.”

Even without its top throwers, Manhattan got solid performances from the rest of the team, with depth helping push the team to the top of the standings.

The MHS girls won three events, with Megan Ochoa sweeping the mile (5:28.77) and the two-mile (12:14.65), while Alaina Schroeder won the 800 (2:19.84).

Manhattan got top-five performances from Matty Mahan in the high jump (2nd, 5-0), Sydney Harrison in the triple jump (4th, 32-0), Tatyana Turner in the discus (2nd, 108-10), Ja Chel Wood in the discus (4th, 105-7), Temetris Johnson in the 100 (3rd, 13.06), Mikela Robinson in the 100 (5th, 13.46), Mackenzie Gwinner in the 1600 (3rd, 5:48.69), Taylor Efurd in the 400 (4th, 1:03.68) and Alyssa Smith in the 3200 (2nd, 12:41.59).

In the relays, the 4x800 team of Taylor Efurd, Molly Bollman, Alyssa Smith and Rachel Beach took third (10:13.20), while the 4x100 team (Robinson, Nate’ Simington, Margaret Mankin, Johnson) took third (51.32). The 4x400 team (Mankin, Johnson, Efurd, Robinson) took fifth (4:21.89).

While the boys’ team took second place behind Hays, they still managed second place with many of its top athletes running in different events. The most notable switch was Chris Melgares and Michael Melgares skipping the distance races and instead running the 800, finishing in second (1:57.80) and fourth (2:01.90), respectively.

“Chris and Michael ran the 800, and had some pretty good times there,” Woodard said. “And Chris had the second-best 6A time in the state, so I was pretty pleased with that.”

Manhattan had just one individual event winner, Chris Martin in the 400. Martin’s 49.72 broke the previous school record, a goal he had his sights on all season.

“I’m very happy for Chris Martin, running that 49.7,” Woodard said. “He finally got the school record. I think that record was over 70 years old. It was an old 440 record.”

Manhattan’s depth helped secure the second-place team finish, with multiple top-five finishes, including Jacob Harden in the long jump (2nd, 21-0 1/2) and triple jump (2nd, 43-10 1/2), Sam Livsey in the triple jump (3rd, 43-9 1/4), Brandon Nowlin in the discus (3rd, 144-5), Colton Wagner in the shot put (2nd, 51-1), Tre Daniels in the 100 (2nd, 11.29), Jack Keeley in the 1,600 (3rd, 4:33.08), Josue Alvarado in the 1600 (4th, 4:33.88), Michal Wolford in the 300 hurdles (4th, 43.61) and Nick Bandy in the 3,200 (4th, 10:28.25).

Woodard was particularly pleased with Wagner’s performance in the shot put.

“Colton Wagner came out on his first throw and hit 51, then threw a 50 and all the rest of his were right around there,” Woodard said. “That’s the consistency we’ve been looking for out of him. And with him doing that, that sets him up well for the next three weeks.”

The boys’ relay teams fared well, with the 4x100 team (Henry Bieber, Daniels, Patrick Guvele, Christian Mack) taking first in a time of 42.46, while the 4x800 team (Isaiah Koppes, Tristan Knott, Peter Gruenbacher, Nick Bandy) took third in 8:33.54. The 4x400 team (Mike Settembrino, Brandon Religa, Tanavious Richardson, Martin) took second place in 3:25.50.

“The boys 4x100 ran pretty well — they can still work on the handoffs a little bit — but we broke our own school record we set last week, so that’s good,” Woodard said. “We had a couple different guys on the 4x400 and still had a decent time.”

With both regional and state track meets looming in a matter of weeks, Woodard said the team’s first goal comes at the league meet this Thursday, beginning at 3:30 p.m. at Hummer Sports Park.

“We’ll still practice pretty hard on Monday and Tuesday, then league is on Thursday, so we’ll back off a little bit,” he said. “We’ll start loading up events, start running kids in three and four events on a regular basis. They know this is what we train for all year and our ultimate goal still is to get to state and have a chance at a state medal and a state trophy, but league is where we want to start.

“That’s the first trophy we want to bring home.”

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