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Franz claims state pole vault crown

Marah Franz is the 3A state pole vault champion after a record-setting performance Friday on the first day of the two-day state meet in Wichita.

The event final was a rematch from a Central Kansas League meet, pitting Franz against Hoisington’s Lexi Sanders. Both cleared 10 feet at the CKL meet, with Franz winning on fewer misses.

Seven vaulters were still in the competition as the bar was set at 10’6”. Franz set a school record when she cleared the height on her first attempt. Sanders also cleared it, but five others were eliminated. Neither Franz or Sanders made 11’, giving Franz the title with fewer overall misses.

“You always hope that an athlete has their best day on the state’s biggest stage, and Marah certainly did,” coach Dennis Boldt said. “Marah showed some mental toughness and kept her composure with a rare miss at an early height, but settled down and made that her only miss of the competition.”

Senior Emily Sechrist, arguably the most accomplished distance runner in school history, placed third in the 3,200 meters, fourth in the 1,600, and ninth in the 800.

Seniors and past state champions made up one of the most competitive distance groups in recent years. Sechrist won the 3,200 title in 2012 with a time that was 12 seconds slower than this year’s third-place finish. She set personal and school record in the 3,200 and 1,600.

“The field in Class 3A was second to none, and I mean including all six classes,” Boldt said. “In no other time that I can remember have 12 girls been seniors in a 3,200 meter race. This incredible field of distance runners challenged her and she responded.”

Boldt said Sechrist established herself as one of the state’s elite runners.

“You would be hard-pressed to find a track coach in the state who does not recognize her from her accomplishments,” Boldt said. “She is a true champion and one of the most decorated distance runners in the state.”

Three-time state qualifier Grant Knoll scored medals by placing eighth in the 3,200 and and seventh in 1,600.

“Through his previous experience he knew that you establish yourself early if you want to score a medal in the distance races,” Boldt said.

Brittany Schale, Karyn Leihy, Kennedy Klein, and Abby Sechrist placed 12th in the 4x800 relay. Boldt said the experience should serve the team well next year, as Schale, Klein, and Sechrist are expected to return.

Boldt said he was satisfied with his team’s performance.

“It was a wonderful two days of competition for our athletes,” he said. “Five state medals including a state championship, five personal bests, and three new school records. Few schools can boast the success that these young people had this weekend.

Last modified June 4, 2015

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