Girls track and field secure second state title in a row


Daniel Davidson

The champions perform the tradition of ‘riding the buffalo’ on Clinton Parkway.

WICHITA — The returning track and field champions win the 6A state tournament once again.

Last spring, Josie Hickerson took second at state in the pole vault. This year, her goal was to leave with gold.

Even after falling to runner-up Gardner-Edgerton’s Kendra Waits at regionals, Hickerson was not discouraged.

“I knew I could beat her because we were neck and neck at every meet,” Hickerson said. “I could just let her have it at league and regionals.”

While setting her own personal record, Hickerson took the state title in pole vault with 12-03, 7 inches over Waits’ height.

Hickerson was not the only Lion ready to return to state. The same scorers from last season were on a mission to defend their state title at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium from Friday to Sunday.

For the relay team of Ashley Wildeman, Amaya Harris, Bella Kirkwood and Asjah Harris, they were determined to take the gold in the 4×100 once again.

Finishing in 48.52 seconds, the Lions did not even have to meet their season best of 48.12 to take the crown.

Junior Asjah Harris was not satisfied with just that win. After taking silver at state last year in the 200 meter dash, she had the same goal as Hickerson.

Harris bumped herself up from third seed to a first-place finish with a time of 24.98 in the 200 meter. That is when she knew the Lions were going to win.

“I just knew we got it,” Harris said. “We knew we had it in the bag.”

The girls ended the competition on Sunday with the 4×400 relay team of Asjah Harris, Hannah Stewart, Ozi Ajekwu and Evann Seratte securing third place.

The lady Lions had emerged as the Track and Field 6A State Champions. With a total score of 84 points, Lawrence left a comfortable 22 point lead over runner-up Leavenworth.

The three days of competition were plagued by several postponements, ultimately forcing events straight to finals. The Lions had no second chances.

“It tested everyone,” Coach Jack Hood said. “We rolled the dice and kept showing up, while other teams fell under the pressure.”

For Evann Seratte, a bad roll of the dice kept her from potentially taking a state title in the 800 meter.

Seratte came into the race with high expectations: she had took first in the 800 last year as a junior. By the first 100 meter curve, however, runners cutting in tripped her up.

All she remembers is hitting the ground and looking up to see everyone’s backs. Although frustrated, she refused to give up.

“That’s what Lions do,” Seratte said. “You get back up and keep running. I knew [Hannah Stewart] was going to get us points, and I just told myself I needed to get back on that podium.”

And Seratte did exactly that. While Stewart finished in second, Seratte was able to catch up from last to eighth place after being trampled.

Stewart also medaled in the 1600 meter (third) and 800 meter run (second).

Asjah Harris additionally took fourth in the 100 meter and Amaya Harris second in javelin.

State championships in girls volleyball, swimming and diving, and track and field made the 2018-2019 sports season a rare success.

“We are losing a significant chunk from Hannah, from Evann, from Josie,” coach Victor Beckerman said. “Those girls are hard to replace — sometimes once in a lifetime girls.”

Beckerman is not concerned though. With several young scorers and winning relay teams coming back next year, he knows a third state title is within reach.

“The next girl will step up,” Beckerman said. “We have the coaching staff to get them where they need to be.”

Full results of the 6A state track and field meet may be viewed here: