WICHITA – After reaching the Class 4A State Track Meet a year ago, Chapman triple jumper McKenna Kirkpatrick set her sights on returning this school year with a healthy improved mark.
Kirkpatrick became injured during the 2018 state meet and couldn’t perform at the level she really wanted to, so her resolve was to return and do better.
“My goal for triple jump this year was just do better,” she said Saturday after coming off the medal podium. “I was hurt when I was here last year doing this event. I wasn’t able to improve on my first mark here.”
Not only did she improve, she became the best triple jumper in Class 4A in the state of Kansas. Kirkpatrick had impressive jumps throughout the season and those marks were helping her to stretch her performances down the stretch of the season.
The Chapman senior to be jumped 35-06.75 for second place at the North Central Kansas League meet at Clay Center earlier this month. Next, she had her best jump of her career at the Class 4A Regional Meet in Abilene.
Kirkpatrick landed the best mark in the state with a leap of 36-11.00 to capture gold and secure the number one seed at the state meet. Her nearest opponent at Abilene was Hayley Engelland of Buhler at 34-05.50.
Going into Saturday’s state competition, Kirkpatrick’s mark solidified her at number one in Class 4A ahead of Paola’s Hailey Schlup at 34-7.75.
“Towards the end of the season, I finally was getting closer to the distances that I had my eye on for some time,” she said. “It is really exciting to be able to finally be able to jump as far as I knew I could.
“I still can’t believe that my jump at regional had been one of the best in the state,” she added. “Until recently, I didn’t know that I had been ranked first. It’s crazy. Like I still can’t believe it. It’s wild.”
At state, Kirkpatrick’s gold medal winning jump of 35-08.75 came on her second attempt. Because of the weather delays at the meet, prelims in field events were scratched and each competitor received four jumps total. The best mark wins.
“I didn’t jump my best today,” she said. “But sometimes, you don’t have to jump your best to win. Honestly, it’s all about doing your best for the day.”
Second place at 4A went to Buhler’s Engelland with a mark of 35-02.25.
Kirkpatrick also made the medal stand in long jump as she earned a seventh place medal after a jump of 15-10.75. She had jumped 16-03.50 to capture the NCKL title and she qualified at regional with a place medal at 16-02.50.
Saniya Simmons of KC Piper took the state gold medal with a leap of 17-00.50. She had qualified at the Abilene regional with a second place mark of 16-08.50. The regional winner Kyra Bauer of Topeka Hayden couldn’t equal her best mark of 17-04.00 on Saturday. Bauer finished just ahead of Kirkpatrick at 16-00.75.
Suther returns to track and field
After spending two seasons on the Chapman softball team, Peyton Suther decided to return to track and field and to carry out her dreams of earning a state medal.
Suther had set Chapman Middle School records in track and field and she basically just wanted to see if she would enjoy it again as much as she did then.
“I had a successful middle school career and I had broken the record at middle school in javelin,” Suther said. “So, I just wanted to try it out again and people were pushing me to do it so I decided to try it.”
She regained her throwing form in the javelin and had a successful season that culminated in a sixth place finish at her first state meet. Suther tossed 124-08 to make the medal stand for the Irish.
Suther tossed the javelin 128-05.50 to claim the NCKL title and then she went 129-00 for a regional win that put her in the Class 4A state meet.
“My best throw today was not as good as I wanted it to be,” she said after coming off the awards stand. “But it still got me on the podium.”
Suther was also the NCKL runner-up in high jump at the NCKL with a jump of 5-00. She also made 5-00 for a second place finish at regional. She made 5-00 on Saturday at Wichita but that was good for ninth, just missing the medals.
“I didn’t get on the podium in high jump,” she said. “But it was a really good experience being my first year here.”
Contact Ron Preston at email@example.com.