by Brian Turrel
Bonner Springs track coach Heather Campbell already had one unforgettable memory from the Kansas state track and field meet, winning gold medals for Garden City High School in the shot put and discus in 1999.
She has another after this weekend. Campbell’s daughter McKenzie, a Bonner Springs sophomore, placed third at state in the 5A girls’ shot put, and McKenzie’s teammate Mariyah Noel won first place in the girls’ discus throw.
Making the event even more special, as a previous gold medalist Heather was able to sign up to present medals for the events she won, and in front of the thousands of applauding track and field fans in Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium, she awarded the medals to her own student-athletes.
The 5A girls’ shot put was held Friday morning, and McKenzie threw 37-feet, 3-inches on her second throw to reach the finals, bettering her previous personal best by over a foot. In the finals, she was narrowly edged out for second place by Taryn Warren of Great Bend. Aarion Pickens of Leavenworth won the event with a throw of 38-feet, 6 1/4-inches.
In Saturday morning’s discus throw, Noel, last year’s 5A girls’ discus champion, kept the crowd — and her coach — in suspense whether she could repeat.
Sitting below the cut line after two of three throws in her preliminary flight, Noel hit 123-feet, 11-inches to jump to second place and into the final round.
In the finals, the Bonner Springs junior set the top mark with her first throw, only to see it passed immediately by Spring Hill’s Margo Todd at 130-feet, 8-inches. On the third throw of the finals, Maize South’s Kieran Burke also topped Noel, pushing her down to third place.
Noel met the pressure head on, hitting her best throw of the meet when she needed it most, 134-feet, a Bonner Springs school record. Todd had one throw remaining to surpass her, the crowd holding its breath, but she fouled on the attempt, ceding the gold medal.
The Braves also brought home medals in the 5A boys’ 4×100-meter relay and girls’ 100-meter hurdles.
Junior Jenna Knight finished 6th in the preliminaries of the 100-meter hurdles, then turned on the jets in the finals to jump to 2nd, with a time of 15.68 seconds.
The boys’ 4×100-meter relay team of Alex Amayo, Kahliek Rainey, Jacob Jones, and Noah Doss finished third with a time of 43.02 seconds, bested only by Piper and De Soto.