Pickens earns career sweep


Overcoming the odds and a mid-season hamstring injury, Peabody-Burns standout Lauren Pickens completed her fourth straight sweep of the 100, 200 and 400 sprints at the Kansas Track and Field Championships in Wichita.

By doing so, Pickens became the first athlete in Kansas history to become a four-time winner in those three events.

?I?m really excited to be the first person to hold my championships for all four years,? Pickens told the Wichita Eagle. ?I owe a huge thank-you to my coaches and my teammates and my friends and fans coming out to support me.?

Friday morning, Pickens qualified for the 200 and 400 with the top times of 26.13 and 59.16, respectively. Saturday morning she qualified for the 100 with the fastest time of 12.74.

That afternoon, she won the 100 in 12.46, the 200 in 25.91 and the 400 in 58.32.

Pickens came up short in a bid for a fourth medal as the Warriors? 4×100 team placed 12th among the 16 entries in the preliminaries Friday with a time of 54.41. The top eight teams qualified.

Running with Pickens were Beckah McCollough, Paige Lewis and Silvia Flores.

Flores also competed in the long jump, placing 12th with a leap of 14-3.

?I am very proud of the way the girls competed,? coach Brian Lightner said. ?Their consistency paid off as other teams struggled a little bit in the cooler weather. Overall, the 30 points scored by Lauren placed Peabody-Burns sixth as a team.?

? MARION. The seven Warrior state qualifiers captured four medals in the nine events they entered.

Whitney Gordon improved on her high jump finish from a year ago, tying for third place with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches. The top five jumpers cleared 5-2, with places awarded according to misses at a lower height.

?She had a very good year for us and we are so glad that she returns for another year,? coach Grant Thierolf said of the junior. ?She has become a very good leader for the girls and keeps everyone loose during practice and meets.?

Distance runner Jordan Hett won two medals, placing fourth in the 3,200 in 10:17.81 and seventh in the 1,600 in 4:42.10.

?He was the highest finishing underclassman and really had a great year for us,? Thierolf said. ?He has such an unbelieveable ceiling that I really think he will be one of the best in the state next year.?

Kaelyn Thierolf brought home Marion?s other medal by placing seventh in the 3,200 with a time of 12:20.98. She placed 10th in the 1,600 in 5:41.36.

?She too had a very good season, running as well as any freshman we have ever had,? coach Thierolf said. ?She had her sights sets on medaling in both races but just came up short.?

The Warriors? two pole vaulters struggled in their respective events. Alicia Maloney placed 11th overall by clearing 8 feet in the girls? event, while Colten Johnson did not clear a height in the boys? competition.

?Colten and Alicia both jumped well in the pole vault, but just never got into the rhythm during the meet,? Thierolf said. ?They will be healthy, stronger and faster for next year and we look forward to their return.?

Corey Shields finished 10th in the girls? shot put with a best heave of 33-11?2.

?She has made tremendous improvement this year and with a dedicated year in the weightroom and on the courts, she can be one of the top throwers in the state next year,? Thierolf said.

Patrick McCarty missed the finals of the 400 by placing 16th in the prelims Friday in 54.23.

?He just got caught in a fast field,? Thierolf said. ?He is the first male sprinter we have had qualify in at least 20 years, and with another year of dedicated work, he will continue to get better.?

Each of the Warrior state qualifiers will return next spring.

? CANTON-GALVA. The Eagles? two qualifiers placed sixth in their state events.

Angel Little finished sixth in shot put with a throw of 35-91?2 while Cayla Sommers tied for sixth with two other competitors in the high jump by clearing 5 feet.

? CENTRE. Theo Kassebaum won the seventh-place medal in the girls 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.89. She qualified with a fourth-best time of 16.25.

? GOESSEL. Laird Goertzen led the Bluebird effort at Wichita by placing fifth in the 3,200 Friday. The senior crossed the finish line in 10:07.71, about 17 seconds behind the winner.

For the girls, Tia Goertzen just missed a medal, placing eighth Saturday in the 100-meter hurdles in a time of 17.21 after qualifying sixth in 16.47 Friday.

The 4×400 team of Jessica Harvey, Goertzen, Ali?Buller and Jennifer Van Horn came short in the prelims, crossing 16th in 4:36.24.

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