Count Marion High School head track coach Grant Thierolf among those who weren’t surprised Friday when the Lady Warriors tied for second place at the historically tough Conrad Nightengale Invitational meet in Halstead.
“I’m never going to sell our girls short,” Thierolf said. “All around, every one of them contributed today.”
Marion tied with Berean Academy for second place in the 14-team field, only 9 points behind meet champion Douglass.
“This is one of those meets you point to because so many of our regional teams are here, so many of the good teams in the state are here,” Thierolf said.
Corey Shields collected 18 of the team’s 68 points with a throw of 34 feet 2.25 inches for second-place in the shot put, third in the javelin with a toss of 105-8, and fourth in the discus with a 101-5 heave.
“Corey is a pretty big part of our team,” Thierolf said. “ We depend on her, and when she’s with us, we’re a better track team.”
Thierolf praised the efforts of Kadecha Gueary, who placed second in long jump with a leap of 15-9.5 and took third in the triple jump with a 31-9.25 jump. Gueary had not competed in track until coming out for the team last year.
“She has made more improvement than any kid we’ve ever coached. She literally couldn’t make the sand pit last year,” Thierolf said. “To have her pull this off in a big meet with historically big schools and a potential state champion in Douglass — to have her perform like that is so much fun.”
The Lady Warriors picked up more points in the field from Whitney Gordon, who finished second in the high jump by clearing 4-10, and Kelli Hess, who took third in the pole vault with a jump of 7-6.
Gordon ran to a third-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.94 seconds, followed closely by Katey Ehrlich in 17.85 for fifth place. Ehrlich followed up with a fourth-place 51.35 finish in the 300 hurdles,
Kaelyn Thierolf placed fifth against stiff competition in both the 1,600, which she ran in 5:56.84, and the 3,200, with a time of 12:48.45.
“Kaelyn competed against loaded fields and she placed above her seed, which is what you want to see kids do,” Thierolf said.
Marion picked up their final points in two relay races. Erin Meierhoff, Gueary, Gordon, and Ehrlich teamed for fourth in the 4x100 relay, circuiting the track in 54.76. The quartet of Gordon, Meierhoff, Ehrlich, and Thierolf finished fifth in the 4x400 relay with a time of 4:19.49
“This is one of those meets that you look at and say where are we at,” Thierolf said. “We haven’t answered that fully, but we have a better idea what we’re doing right now.
The Marion boys had a strong meet as well, finishing third and only 7 points behind champion Berean Academy and 3 points behind runner-up Conway Springs.
Dakin Ledford paced the Warriors in the field events, tossing the javelin 167-5 for second-place, and third in the discus with a 129-9 throw. Nick Meyer was right behind Ledford at 128-3 in the discus, placing fourth.
“I thought Dakin and Nick threw really well today,” Thierolf said.
Colten Johnson and Zach Hammond have made a habit of finishing next to each other in the pole vault, and they did it again at Halstead. Johnson cleared 13 feet for third and Hammond made 12-6 for fourth.
James Jones was the other Warrior to score in the field with a personal-best leap of 40-10.5 in the triple jump, good enough for sixth place.
Jordan Hett crushed the competition in the 3,200, finishing 18 seconds ahead of his closest rival with a time of 10:27.
“That’s tough to do — he didn’t have anybody to run with. Jordan ran really well,” Thierolf said.
Hett ran 4:31 in the 1,600 to place second.
Johnson took third place in the 300 hurdles with a time of 41.84, and ran the 110 hurdles in 15.97 for fourth.
Patrick McCarty finished sixth in the 400 with a time of 53.65.
The 4x400 relay team of Brody Carroll, Jones, Johnson, and McCarty led most of the race until they were passed by Douglass in the final stretch to finish second with a time of 3:35.
“It was a really good day,” Thierolf said. “Historically we haven’t competed real well at Halstead. But in part because of the schedule we have, I think our kids realize every week is like this. They’re used to competing against this caliber of people, and they certainly don’t get intimidated.”
Thierolf was pleased with the overall outcome for both squads, and said the team is progressing at a good pace as they point toward regionals.
“If you look at where we are, our times are starting to go down and our distances are starting to go up, which is exactly where you want to be,” Thierolf said. “We don’t want to be peaking right now. We should be getting better each week and I think today we took a step forward in that way.”
Marion was at home Tuesday for a Central Kansas Track League meet hosted by Berean Academy. The teams travel Friday to Beloit for the Beloit Track Invitational.