Cold snap doesn’t sap Cat performers
It was cold -- not literally freezing, but one glance at De Soto pole vaulter Cheyenne Williams at Thursday's Mill Valley track meet and the discomfort was obvious. She paced slowly parallel to the rubber track that led to the vaulting mat, occasionally stopping to slap at her legs as if to ask them not to shutdown in the unseasonable temperature. Waiting through a break in the action, she clung to a bright blanket, which along with a uniform meant for May was her only protection from the cold that left coaches and fans in sweaters, long coats and stocking caps.
Williams' legs finally got the chance to answer the call. Her only remaining competitor in the girls pole vault, Andrea Kieffer of Mill Valley, returned from running the 400-meter run, and the event resumed.
Williams quickly cleared 7-foot 6 inches, a mark Kieffer wasn't able to match. Though Williams wasn't able to clear the next height -- she had the bar bumped straight to 8-2 in hopes of claiming the school title -- she did snare De Soto a gold medal and continued her progress in the event.
Eight feet hasn't typically been a problem for Williams. Three De Soto vaulters topped out near the mark last year before the graduated Brianna Cooper cleared 8-1 in a meet to set the school record.
Williams is dead-set on flying over that, however.
"I need to keep moving up. I think I have a lot of room for improvement," Williams said. "I want to clear 8-6. I was really close last year, and I want to get it this year."
The cold certainly figured into her performance Thursday. First place in hand, she went for 8-2 primarily to avoid having to clear an extra height.
De Soto track coach Chris McAfee, bundled up himself as he urged runners along, said the cold wasn't entirely debilitating, however, and despite the unpleasant afternoon it made for, it didn't ruin the team's progress.
"It was much more of a problem mentally than physically," McAfee said. "Overall, the times weren't slow and in fact there were some good performances. People, in general, were more afraid of the cold than anything else."
The De Soto girls finished second in the meet with 99.5 points. They were well behind first-place Mill Valley, which had 246, but ahead of teams from Shawnee Mission West, Maranatha and Ottawa.
Williams claimed one of two first-place finishes for the Cats, the other coming from senior Jackie Goleman. Goleman won the 200-meter dash with a time of 27.99, also taking second in both the 100-meter hurdles and high jump.
The boys finished further back in the pack, coming in fifth with 45 points. The team was one point ahead of Ottawa, but only one behind Maranatha. All were well back of first-place Shawnee Mission West.
Junior Andre Linzy enjoyed the best meet of his first-year high school career, winning the triple jump and finishing fourth in the long jump and the 400.
The Cats will look to improve their marks in what promises to be a much better environment. The weather may only be a slight improvement -- 50 degree temperatures with a chance of rain is forecast -- but the K.T. Woodman Classic will be at Wichita's Cessna Stadium.
McAfee said it'll be a fun but important day, one that gives state track meet hopefuls an idea of what to expect, and one that gives everyone a chance to see some of the best performances around.
"We're taking kids we think have a chance at state, or kids that have been around a number of years, so they can see what it's like. We'll also take kids who we don't know about this year, but who could make it in the future," McAfee said.
"It's imposing to see the big stadium, but it's something the kids look forward to. They get to compete against good teams and good athletes and that's good for them."