McPherson High’s Chris Stoppel will be the vying for the title of “fastest man in Class 4A” this weekend in the Kansas State Track and Field Championships at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium.
Stoppel was a top contender last year in two of the meet's most anticipated events, taking second in the 100 (11.18) and third in the 200 (22.46).
He has improved on those marks in his senior season. He had the top marks in Class 4A in those events during last week’s regionals, burning to 10.8 in the 100 and 22.0 in the 200 (tying with Trinity Academy’s Tyler Burns).
“If he gets a good start in both races, he has a chance to finish with the gold medal in both events,” MHS coach Jace Pavlovich said.
Stoppel also will anchor the 4 x 100 relay team that includes Dylan Shook, Oscar Westerblom and Taylor Kynaston.
“Our boys' 4 x 1 is currently in third right now due to a PR at regionals,” Pavlovich said. “They are going to have to continue to work on smooth handoffs this week to replicate or lower that time.”
It’s relatively quiet for the boys the rest of the weekend. Hurdlers Spenser Wine and Klayton Goering will compete in the 110 highs, while Andric McGill will take part in the high jump.
“Klayton and Spenser have been running neck and neck the whole year,” Pavlovich said. “They are seeded as Top 8 kids right now. They will have to run well to qualify for finals. If they do, we could have two guys in the mix.”
McGill has an outside chance at a medal, Pavlovich said, since he’s been coming on strong in recent weeks.
The Bullpup girls will do most of their damage in the field events. Bri Cooks won last week’s regional in the shot put and had the second-best throw overall in 4A. Second is probably the most realistic place for the future Pittsburg Stater, as Baldwin’s Alexia Stein is a virtual lock to win the gold, given she’s throwing 2-3 feet farther than anybody in the class all year.
“She (Cooks) will have to bomb a PR by two feet to catch the Stein girl, who is throwing in the 44-foot range,” Pavlovich said.
Also in the field events, the MHS coach likes the medal chances of defending state champion Amy Suenram in the long jump, Megan Pedersen in the high jump and Elle Barrett in the triple jump.
Suenram came out of nowhere last year to win state, as she ranked only No. 6 going in. She popped a big one to land a spot on the MHS Wall of Fame and her mark this year is much farther than her state championship distance. She is No. 3 going in, with Buhler’s Alex Keller probably tough to catch as she is coming off an 18-0 jump at the regional.
Pedersen is 2 inches off the top mark in the high jump and has been consistent much of the year. Barrett goes in No. 6, but Pavlovich likes her potential.
MHS’ 4 x 100 relay team of Barrett, Rilynn Anderson, Kamryn Collins and Laynie Moore is hoping to make the finals. Pavlovich said the unit had trouble with handoffs last week, but still got in. He’s believes the quartet can medal as the pressure of getting to state is now off.