Mariah Jones of Ell-Saline competes in the long jump during the state track meet on Saturday, May 30, 2009 at Cessna Stadium in Wichita, Kan. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal)
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This Cardinal can fly
By LARRY MORITZ Salina Journal

WICHITA — She’s three years into her high school track and field career, but Mariah Jones still gets nervous before the big meets.

To make matters worse, the Ell-Saline junior is going to have plenty of time to sit around and think about her performances prior to competing at this weekend’s Kansas State Championships at Cessna Stadium.

Jones qualified for the 2A state meet in the maximum four events and could potentially medal in all four — long jump, triple jump, 200 dash and 400 dash. Although the meet gets underway at 7:45 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jones is not scheduled to compete before 3:20 p.m. either day.

“I’m really excited because the state track meet is an amazing experience,” Jones said. “It’s one of my favorite events, with so many people I know and all the different classes competing.

“I remember my freshman year being pretty intimidated, walking on the field with thousands of people there and all of those athletes. It’s still nerve wracking, and I still get really nervous, but I think I’m more relaxed than I’ve been the last couple of years.”

Jones was a three-time state medalist both her freshman and sophomore years, and was a state champion in 2009 in the girls long jump. She was also state runner-up to Oakley’s Dayna Kuhlman last year in the triple jump, but finished ahead of Kuhlman when they met in the triple jump at last week’s regional meet.

“I hope I compete better in the triple jump this year,” Jones said. “It’s my favorite event and it would be nice to win that, but the girl that beat me the last two years (Kuhlman) is also a junior.”

As a past state champion, Jones has been invited to participate in the KSHSAA ceremonies Saturday commemorating the 100th anniversary of the high school state track meet in Kansas, All former champions, state championship coaches and Kansas Olympians were invited to take part in this weekend’s celebration, which will include a Centennial Lap around the Cessna Stadium track after the annual Hall of Fame ceremonies.

“I’m really excited about that because it’s going to be really cool,” Jones said. “I’m honored to be asked to participate in something like that, with so many of people who have had so much success in track.”

Jones was the only state qualifier for the Ell-Saline girls. Cody Rietchek will be the lone representative for the Cardinal boys and will compete in the javelin.

Salina Central

The Salina Central girls were fourth at the 5A state meet a year ago when the Mustangs scored 40 points, finishing three points shy of a third-place trophy. Central scored 25 of those 40 points in the field events and will likely need a similar effort off the track to contend for a trophy this year.

Junior Sadie Suenram, who was a state medalist in both the shot put and discus last year, qualified in those events and the javelin this weekend. Suenram took second in the discus and fifth in the shot as a sophomore.

Bre Bennett was a regional champion last week in the long jump and also qualified in the triple jump, while Taylor Swanson has cleared 9-6 or higher in the pole vault the last two meets.

The Mustangs finished second a year ago in the 400 relay, but Wanakai Scott is the lone member of that team returning this weekend. Central will also compete in the 1,600 relay, while Calla Hill (400) and Ashley Weaverling (200) will compete in individual events.

The Central boys will be represented in 11 events, but senior Alex Williams is the only returning state medalist for the Mustangs. Williams placed second in the triple jump and will represent Central in that event again this weekend along with teammate Trey Dallas.

Junior Devon James was a regional champion last week in the 100 dash. Also competing in Friday preliminaries on the track for Central will be Daryl Bowman in the 400 and Cale Sharp in the 110 hurdles. The Mustangs also qualified all three of their relay teams.

Additional field event participants for Central will be Williams in the high jump, Jesse Wassenberg in the long jump, Uriel Gonzalez in the javelin and Brandon Bolte in the pole vault.

Salina South

It will be a quick weekend for Salina South senior Taylor Goodness. A state qualifier in both the 5A girls high jump and long jump, Goodness will complete both of her events before noon Friday.

The 5A high jump, where Goodness will be joined by teammate Danielle Berry, is scheduled for 8 a.m. Friday. That will be followed by the 5A girls long jump at 9:45 a.m. Goodness was a state runner-up in the high jump in 2009.

After those events are complete, South’s only other female state participant will be freshman Megan Holloway, who will compete in the 800 meter run at 5 p.m. Saturday.

South senior TJay Frank was the top qualifier for the Cougar boys. Frank finished second als last week’s regional meet in the 300 hurdles. South will also be represented by Christian Linenberger in the 100 dash, Demetrias Jones in the long jump and by the Cougars’ 400 relay team.

Southeast of Saline

Ryan McMichael and Michael Helvey lead Southeast’s state contingent, with both athletes qualifying in a pair of individual events and both winning a pair of regional titles last week.

McMichael will run in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, while Helvey competes in the long jump and triple jump. Helvey finished third in the long jump as a junior.

Southeast also had a regional champion in the high jump from senior Bryant Beneke. Nathan Peterson will run the 400 dash and the Trojans will attempt to qualify for Saturday’s final in the 400 relay.

Junior Courtney Sager was the lone state qualifier for the Southeast girls and will run in the 800.

Sacred Heart

Senior Mark Riordan and freshman Cory Donley and Drew Diederich each qualified in two individual events for the Sacred Heart boys.

Riordan was the Knights’ lone state medalist in 2009 when he placed second in the triple jump, and will be among the favorites in that event and the long jump this weekend.

Both Donley and Diederich hope to cap their first season with strong performances — Donley in the 1,600 and 3,200 run, Diederich in the 100 and 200 dashes. The Knights also qualified their 400 relay team for state.

Sacred Heart freshman Hannah Doll was a regional champion last week in the 100 dash. She will also compete at state in the long jump, while junior Ally Balderston will run for the Knights in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Additional SES Stories:
State cross country rankings
County sports: Saturday’s events at-a-glance
Back in the saddle
Near-sweep for Lincoln siblings

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