When Dale Sprunger calls out for “Miller” at an Inman track and field practice, three girls come running.
It has to get a bit confusing for Sprunger because two of his standouts are twins Krystal and Krystan Miller. To muddy the waters even more, Kristin Miller transferred in to Inman this year.
The Millers, however, have a common bond. They are all fast. Blinding fast.
The Miller triumvirate will be the key to the Teutons’ chances of placing high in the State Track and Field Meet that gets under way Friday at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium.
“It does get confusing with all the Millers and with the first names being so close, but you get used to it,” Sprunger said. “It got easier as the season progressed.”
There’s no confusion about their talent. Krystal Miller and Krystan Miller will be joined by foreign exchange sensation Emma Aberg and Nicole Neufeldt to form the Teutons’ 4 x 100 relay team that has its eyes on state gold. The Teutons blew away their regional field last week in 49.83 and if they run that time or better to win this weekend, they will break a 12-year-old 2A state record held by Ness City.
The other relay entry, the 4 x 400, includes the three Millers and Aberg. They are No. 4 going in, but did win their regional handily last week.
Krystal Miller, Aberg and Krystan Miller also have the top three 2A times going into the 100 prelims as they all broke the 13-second barrier last week. “I’ve never heard of that (a team with the top three marks going in),” Sprunger said.
In the 200, Aberg is ranked No. 1 after a blistering 25.59 at regional and Krystan Miller is No. 3. Krystal Miller hopes to add some points in the 400, where she’s ranked seventh.
“I just hope we perform at state the same way we did at regional,” Sprunger said. “The girls have the potential to do very well. We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”
Another area school that should make noise is Hesston. The Swathers have many of the same performers who were members of the boys and girls basketball teams that captured state championships in March.
“Both our boys and girls have a chance to place in the Top 3 as a team at state, but things will have to fall in our favor,” Hesston coach Jason Peters said. “On the boys’ side, both Beloit and Phillipsburg have very strong teams, as we saw at the regional meet, placing third behind them, but our boys have the opportunity to medal in all eight events we qualified in, and should have the chance to score a good number of points in many of those events. On the girls’ side, the competition will be more spread out among several very good teams. We should have a chance to medal in most of our nine events, but we may get more of the fourths, fifths, sixths, that won't score as many points for the team.”
It’s been seven years since the Swathers have had a performer grab the gold, but that should change this year.
Future Wichita State Shocker Ryan Schadler is the 3A leader in the 200 and 400 going in, while he’s third in the long jump and fourth in the 100. He’s expected to score a chunk of points just by himself, but he should get some help. Justin Smith is a half-inch behind the 3A leader in the triple jump and has been extending his own personal best as the season goes along, having gone 44-9 in the regional.
The Swather girls also have state contenders. High jumper Hannah Schmitt is tied for the top mark and the 4 x 100 relay team of Schmitt, Jessanna Nebel, Michaela Adams and Ali Jost is No. 1. Mikala Heddin is No. 2 in the 3,200, but she’ll have to go a long way to catch Arma’s Kaylee Bogner, who is 15 seconds clear of the field.
Jost is fifth in both the 100 and 200 meters, but not that far from the leaders.
A couple of area performers to keep an eye on are Little River’s Emily Baldwin (No. 2 in the 2A shot put going in), while Canton-Galva’s Cody Savage is a threat in the 2A 100 and 200 meters.