Warriors flying high, qualifying 12 athletes




They say good things come in threes and never was the statement more true than this Friday as seniors Colten Johnson, Dakin Ledford and Whitney Gordon set the bar for those to follow with three regional championships at home.

?I was very pleased for our seniors,? said coach Grant Thierolf. ?Our kids have worked hard to get better at what they do and to see that hard work pay off is very satisfying.?

Johnson took gold for the boys? team in the pole vault, clearing 13 feet, 6 inches to earn the title and punch a ticket to state competition in Wichita this weekend.

?Colten is going in four events, which in and of itself is a great accomplishment,? Thierolf said. ?The great thing is that he has a chance to bring back a medal in each of the events.?

In addition to the pole vault, Johnson qualified with a silver in the 4×400-meter relay (3:31.74), bronze in the javelin (158 feet, 11 inches) and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles (42.46).

Ledford completed the dynamic duo with gold in the javelin (171-1), his throw putting him at the top of the state rankings going into the weekend.

Representing the girls will be Gordon in the high jump, who looked back in top form after struggling earlier in the year.

Gordon cleared 5 feet, 2 inches, her best performance of the season, for first place.

She also qualified in the 100-meter hurdles, taking fourth with another season-best performance (16.02).

Seniors weren?t the only Warriors making waves at regionals, however.

Not to be outdone, Alicia Maloney, who has flirted with the girls? pole vault record all season, broke the school record to claim a regional championship and a state berth in the pole vault with a leap of nine feet, seven inches.

On the boys? side, James Jones broke a 41-year-old school record in the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 3.75 inches, taking silver to earn his name in the books and a ticket to state.

?He has been so close all year to hitting a big jump, and to accomplish it in the most pressure-packed meet of the year was awesome,? Thierolf said.

But perhaps the most meaningful performance of the day came from Kadecha Gueary, who took fourth in the girls? long jump (15-9.75) to qualify for state in just her second track season.

?We were thrilled for Kadecha,? Thierolf said. ?She has come so far in the last year and for her to qualify for state on her last jump of the finals just brought tears to our eyes.

?What a great thing to see.?

Sharing the bus with the athletes above will be Jordon Hett, who toughed out an off day to earn a silver in the boys? 1,600 (4:49) and bronze in the 3,200 (10:38); Spencer Fugitt, who took bronze in the boys? discus (141-9) and fourth in the javelin (145-6); Nick Meyer, who took silver in the boys? shot put (45-2.25); and Corey Shields, who was edged in the girls? shot put for silver (33-10.75).

Hett and Shields are both returners to the state track meet and are expected to make the medal stand this weekend.

In addition to Johnson, athletes qualifying in the boys? 4×400-meter relay included Patrick McCarty, Jones and Brody Carroll.

It is the first time in 20 years that Marion has qualified in that event.

The Marion boys? track team came in second overall behind Trinity Catholic and the girls finished sixth at regionals. The Warriors had 12 athletes qualify for state in 14 events.

Coming ?The Warriors are scheduled to compete at the state track meet in Wichita State University?s Cessna Stadium Friday and Saturday.

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