Sydney Burton, Abby Barnes

Sydney Burton and Abby Barnes run the final meters of the 800M race to earn first and fourth place. They will run at the state track meet on Saturday.

Running in her final Kansas State High School Activities Association track meet, Abilene High School graduate Sydney Burton prepares to become back-to-back state champion of the Class 4A 800M.

Finishing with gold and AHS record a year ago, Burton crossed the finish line at Wichita Cessna Stadium at 2:17.49. She leads the seeding pack for Class 4A with a time of 2:20.65 for 2019.

Burton’s most direct competition in 2018 was Baldwin junior Natalie Becker who finished second at 2:18.84. Becker is not listed as a 2019 finalist and neither is third place finisher Hannah Wiebe of Andover Central. Wiebe did qualify but is in Class 5A as Andover Central moved up a class with reclassification.

Fourth place a year ago went to Jessica Peterson of Frontenac and although she qualified again, she will run in the Class 3A event.

Burton will be pressed by Buhler sophomore Leah Bentley whom she defeated in the Abilene regional. Third seed belongs to Bishop Miege senior Fallon Russell at 2:26.08.

Burton, who will be attending Kansas State University in the fall to run cross country and track, could lead the way for an Abilene double medal performance in 800M as her teammate Abby Barnes also qualified at regional. Barnes, who finished second to Burton in the North Central Kansas League meet, ran fourth at the Abilene regional and is seeded in the top eight at state.

Both Cowgirls have been running their best this season according to head track coach Steve Simpson. Simpson was really pleased with Burton and Barnes’s efforts at the Abilene regional. He also commented on the fact that sophomore Bailey Rock just missed qualifying for her first individual event at state with a fifth place run in the 800M.

Burton and Barnes both run legs of the Cowgirl 4x800M Relay and 4x400M Relay teams. Burton typically runs the anchor in both relays for Abilene.

In 2018, Abilene’s 4x400M Relay team failed to qualify but the 4x800M team climbed to the medal stand with a fifth place finish of 9:59.53. Barnes led off the race before handing off to Beth Holmes then Savannah Stout and finally Burton running the final leg.

These four are back for a final time at state as both Barnes and Burton have graduated.

The Cowgirls enter the weekend with the second seed in the 4x400M at 4:11.87 behind Baldwin at 4:07.15. Not only do the Cowgirls want the win but also with a time of 4:07.02 or better, they will establish another new AHS record.

This group of four holds the current AHS 4x800M record with their state track meet performance.

Abilene’s seeded time in the 4x800 is 11:40.25. They were not challenged at regional, as there were only three qualifying teams at the Abilene meet. The Cowgirls’ league winning time was 10:24.20, which would be in the top five in Class 4A.

Rock and juniors Annie Bathurst and Shiann Olberding will practice and travel with the team as alternates.

Contact Ron Preston at

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