Shaq Thiessen, more like Super Mario Thiessen.
Thiessen crushed his own school record on his second long jump attempt Friday at regionals in Marion.
On that jump, it was almost as if in the middle of his normal flight Thiessen jumped a second time. He said this is a swimming kick move that he does on every jump; it just so happened that the timing worked out for extra distance on that jump, about two to three inches. Those inches were enough to break the previous record of 23 feet, 5.5 inches, which broke a mark that stood for more than 50 years; he jumped 23-7.25 on Friday.
“It was easier the second time,” Thiessen said. “I didn’t think I would be the one to actually do it.”
Thiessen won what was supposed to be a competitive event by more than two feet. James Jones of Marion jumped 21-5.5. Based on the measurements at the long jump pit, Thiessen also jumped 22-5.5, 22-3.75, and 21-4.25.
Breaking school records is old hat for Thiessen at the long jump pit, he was in uncharted territory in the high jump competition.
Thiessen and Nicholas Camper of Caney Valley cruised past 6-2, both clearing that bar in one attempt. It took both jumpers two attempts to make 6-4. It was déjà vu at 6-6.
Six-four was Thiessen’s previous personal best; 6-6 tied the school record set by Darrin Hiebert in 1993 and tied by Eric Driggers in 1997.
Thiessen had never even attempted to jump 6-8 before. Thiessen said the mark was intimidating, but he will be ready to take it on next week at state.
Emily Sechrist looked totally at ease, relaxed, like she was thinking about anything except running, when she set the pace in the 3,200-meter run. It was a blistering pace for everyone else.
At the mid-way point of the race on Friday, a competitor eased up alongside Sechrist and tried to pass her. Sechrist snapped to consciousness at this bold move and sped past the runner. She led the race by at least 50 meters for the remaining laps. She won with a time of 12 minutes, 6.83 seconds, about 10 seconds faster than Klair Gibson of Douglass.
Sechrist said the two-mile is by far her preferred race. The extended distance allows her the freedom to adjust her strategy on the fly. She is the defending state champion in the event and wants to represent herself well this year at state.
She said the results in the 800 and 1,600 are almost like a bonus. Sechrist’s reward on Friday was that she qualified for state in all three of her races.
She placed third in the 800 with a time of 2:30.95 and second in the 1600, 5:25.21.
“To put it simply, regional meets are not very fair to distance runners tyring to qualify for the 800,” Boldt said.
Sechrist had not lost a race in the 1,600 or 3,200 before Friday. Freshman Allison Stutterheim of Southeast of Saline pulled away from Sechrist in the final 200 meters, after drafting off the Hillsboro runner for the first three laps.
Sechrist wonders if runners are starting to adopt a strategy against her. Sechrist likes to lead the 1,600 from the onset as well. With the shorter race, it is easier for competitors to run with her and then try to out kick her at the end.
Sechrist said she might adjust her strategy for the state competition.
The Franz family
It seemed as though it was a long time coming, a state berth for Avery Franz in the triple jump.
He came up just short last season, placing fifth at regionals. He had worked all season to earn a trip to Wichita.
Despite jumping a season best jump of 41-11, Franz was still anxious waiting for the final results to be announced. He placed fourth, topping Stephen Muckenthaler of Leon-Bluestem by about a foot.
“He had a good day today and is well deserving of jumping at Wichita,” Boldt said. “I look for him to have his best day now that he will concentrate on the triple.”
While it took Franz until his junior year to qualify in an individual event, his freshman sister Marah, qualified in the pole vault with a leap of 9 feet, good enough for fourth place.
“She just continues to improve and is peaking at the right time,” Boldt said.
Although he said he was happy for her, there was a twinge of sibling jealousy that Marah had made it to state in year one.
Other state qualifiers
Senior Tyler Proffitt won pole vault with a jump of 14-0. He had already won the event with his first jump at 13-0. He has cleared 14 feet in his previous three meets, but 14-6 has been an ever present barrier.
Josh Richert placed second in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:41.48. He just missed qualifying in the 800, placing fifth with a time of 2:04.08.