By Craig Martin
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The field events provided the fireworks Friday at the 86th Kansas Relays.
The top two nationally-ranked shot put throwers Kord Ferguson (Ottawa, KS) and Bo Farrow (Broken Arrow, OK) clashed in a head-to-head duel. Farrow came out on top with a throw of 61 feet, 3 inches, which is just barely off his season-best 62-5 ½. Ferguson took second with a 60-5.
The cold, blustery weather was more problematic for the jumping events. Nick Meyer of Bishop Carroll (Wichita, KS) cleared 16-4 ¾ in the pole vault on his third attempt to win the event. He missed his three attempts at 16-10 ¾.
Meyer, who has signed to jump at Kansas next year, said the winds stopped swirling once the sun had set, and that helped the vaulters in their final attempts, but the weather has stymied his progress over the past couple weeks as he hasn’t been able to practice.
“I’ve been chasing a PR since the first track meet,” said Meyer, who owns the eighth best mark in the country this season at 16-8. “Coming in here and jumping a little better – 5 meters – it’s a step back into the PR area.”
Alexa Harmon-Thomas of Lawrence (KS) Free State won the high jump at 5-8 and just missed her final attempt at 5-10 ½, which would’ve matched her PR set in March at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
“I was a little disappointed, but considering how I felt earlier in the day I’ll take it,” said Harmon-Thomas, who had to scratch out of the 300-meter hurdles because of the stomach flu. “I’m just happy to go out there and get 5-8.
“It’s been a struggle. I like to think I’d have faster marks and higher jumps by now, but we haven’t been able to practice much (because of the weather).”
The girls javelin saw Danie Plank of Gardner-Edgerton (KS) threw a new national best mark of 161-1 ½ – nine inches better than the next best throw in the country.
On the track, the fields for the 800-meter run were loaded with potential.
Eureka (MO) sophomore Hannah Long fought off multiple challengers during her two laps, but she never gave up the lead en route to a 2:12.81. Long posted a 2:11.90 at the start of the season.
“I think we got out a little slow as a group, but I tried to stay controlled and relaxed the first lap,” Long said. “I think this is a good indicator for upcoming meets, and I think I ran a good race and a good time.”
Spencer Haik of Glendale (Springfield, MO) got boxed in early, but he squeezed through a gap to get to the outside as the second lap started. With about 250 meters left, Haik started his kick and finally took the lead in the final 75 meters to win in 1:55.54.
“We got out pretty fast, and I wasn’t expecting it so I had to adjust to the speed and banged my legs up a little bit with some spikes, but I’m glad I got out of it and made the run,” Haik said. “I don’t really rely on (my kick); I’m able to run other ways, but sometimes it’s just more fun.”
A freshman from Olathe Northwest caught the girls 3,200-meter field by surprise when Cameron Gueldner sat patiently in the pack before charging to the lead and the 10:51.09 win in the final lap.
“I honestly didn’t expect that to happen at all,” said Gueldner, who is the daughter of 1988 national champion KU basketball player Jeff Gueldner. “I was just striving to get first. It just happened I guess. I just wanted to tuck behind someone to block the wind a little bit and when I felt like I was ready to pass then go up in front.”
It’s the fifth fastest time by a freshman this spring.