DHS track athletes gear up for meet
De Soto High School track coach Brad Qualls may want to purchase a K-Tag if the state continues to hold its annual track meet in Wichita.
The Wildcats have six athletes, four sophomores and two freshmen, competing at the Class 4A State Track Meet at Cessna Stadium in Wichita this weekend.
With many talented young competitors on the squad, Qualls can expect to have several athletes bound for Wichita in future years.
Sophomore Julie Beck, who has battled muscle strains and stomach problems all season, will compete in the long jump and the triple jump at the state competition. Beck placed second in both events, 16-11 3/4 in the long jump and 33-9 in the triple jump, both personal bests, at the regionals in Tonganoxie last Friday night.
Beck had an outstanding season for the Wildcats. She represented them as the lone Wildcat at the highly competitive Kansas Relays. Beck missed the Shawnee Mission North Relays because of an injury but Qualls said she should have a solid chance to perform well at State.
"If she has a day like she had at the regional meet, she should be able to get into the finals," Qualls said. "If she is healthy enough, she should place in the top three."
Beck said she enjoyed competing in the Kansas Relays and hopes to compete at a high level in Wichita this weekend.
"It was a really neat experience to compete (at the Kansas Relays) with all the great athletes from all around," Beck said. "My goal (this weekend) is to do a personal record in each event."
Fellow sophomore long jumper Michael Allen placed third at the regional meet with a 20-6 jump, punching his ticket to Wichita this weekend. Qualls looks for Allen to improve on his showing at regionals.
"That wasn't his best jump of the year but it was his first jump of the day," Qualls said. "He should do well and if he jumps in the mid 21s like he has been, he should make the finals. He is capable of beating anyone who placed ahead of him."
The girls 4x800 team of freshmen Cassie Garza, Lisa Lambert, Mary Roellchen and sophomore Kim Anderson also qualified for the state meet by placing fourth at the regional meet in 10:44. Because only the top three finishers automatically qualify for the state meet, the relay team did not receive official notice of its qualification until 2:30 p.m. on Monday, three days after the regional event. Sophomore Katie Davis will replace Roellchen, who has a knee injury. Qualls said he was impressed with the team's performance in Tonganoxie.
"Cassie Garza showed great determination by getting us back into the race after it looked like we were out of the running," Qualls said. "It will be a great experience for them to face some great competition."
Anderson said she is optimistic about running the 4x800 with the same group that competed at the Shawnee Mission North Relays on May 4. She said she looks forward to future success.
"It is very exciting and it is a big honor for us to compete with many teams who are older than we are," Anderson said. "We have a strong team and our underclassmen are getting a lot of varsity experience."
Qualls pointed to the lone home meet of the season when both teams turned in solid performances as an indicator of the team's potential.
"The high point of the year was the De Soto Invitational," Qualls said. "We had some great overall performances and we showed what we have coming in the future."
Allen will compete in the first round of the boys' long jump at 3 p.m Friday while Beck will take part in the girls' triple jump at 4:30 p.m. Beck will also compete in the girls long jump at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and the girl's 4x800-meter relay team will run at 11:50 a.m. that morning.