Welcome to Top Sports News

Shawnee County track/field: 20 athletes to watch this spring

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Back in the spring of 2019, Hayden's Tanner Newkirk burst on the state track and field scene as a freshman, placing second in his state debut.

Now a junior, Newkirk, the reigning Class 4A state cross country champion, is one of several Shawnee County upperclassmen who appear poised to make noise at the state level later this season along with several newcomers who have already shown promise in their first track and field campaigns.

Other top returners include Seaman boys hurdler Sean Hoffmans, Washburn Rural boys hurdler Marquel Russell, Hayden boys long-jumper/sprinter Jack Konrade and Shawnee Heights girls hurdler/jumper Shelby Butterfield, while a talented group of newcomers includes Shawnee Heights boys hurdler/sprinter Jeremiah Smith, Heights girls sprinter Taylor Rottinghaus, Seaman girls distance runner Bethany Druse and Seaman hurdler Taylin Stallbaumer. 

Here's 20 athletes to keep an eye on this spring:

• SHELBY BUTTERFIELD, Shawnee Heights -- A standout jumper and hurdler since her freshman season, Butterfield returns for her senior season. Butterfield placed in 5A in the 300 hurdles, long jump and triple jump as a freshman and followed that up with a third-place finish in the long jump and a fourth in the 300 hurdles as a sophomore. Butterfield won the long jump in last week's Emporia State Relays at 17 feet, 7.75 inches, the 100-meter hurdles in 16.43 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 47.91.

• MADELINE CARTER, Washburn Rural -- A sophomore, Carter has been one of the city's premier girls cross country runners since her freshman season and won the city title and placed eighth in the 6A state meet last fall. Carter opened her first track season with an impressive win in the 1,600 meters in the Jerry Beardslee Invitational, clocking a time of 5:30.5.

Bethany DruseSeaman sophomore Bethany Druse has posted two straight 800 meters wins to open the 2021 track season. [Photo by Bethany Druse/TSN]

• BETHANY DRUSE, Seaman -- Druse, a sophomore, had her freshman track season canceled due to COVID-19, but earned a state medal with a ninth-place finish in last fall's 5A girls cross country meet and is unbeaten in two 800 races this season, including a 2:23.6 winning time in last Thursday's Jerry Beardslee Invitational. 

• AMELIA FOSTER, Rossville -- A sophomore, Foster won the girls 800 meters in the Silver Lake Invitational by more than 11 seconds in a time of 2:34.54 and also placed second in the 1,600 in 6:00.92.

• BRIAR GILLUM, Rossville -- Gillum, a junior, won the girls shot put event in the Silver Lake Invitational by 2 feet, 8.5 inches with a throw of 36-10.5 and also finished second in the discus at 114-0. 

• SEAN HOFFMANS, Seaman -- A senior, Hoffmans has swept the boys 300-meter hurdles in the Topeka West Mid-Winter Relays and the Jerry Beardslee Invitational to open the season while also posting first- and second-place finishes in the 110 highs.

JadaIngramWashburn Rural freshman Jada Ingram (right) won three gold medals in her first high school track meet last Thursday. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

• JADA INGRAM, Washburn Rural -- Ingram opened her freshman season in the Jerry Beardslee Invitational with girls wins in the 200-meter dash and the high jump while also running on the Junior Blues' winning 4 X 400 relay.

• JACK KONRADE, Hayden -- The Wildcat senior took third in the 4A boys long jump at state as a sophomore and Konrade was a state qualifier for Hayden in the 4 X 100 relay.

• CASON JOHNSON, Silver Lake -- A senior, Johnson won the boys 110-meter hurdles in the Silver Lake Invitational in 18.00 seconds and was the runner-up in the 300 hurdles in 44.65.

• JAVION LEE, Topeka West -- A junior, Lee eclipsed the 22-foot mark to win the boys long jump in the ESU Relays at 22-1 and also finished second in the 100 dash at 11.05 seconds.

• TANNER NEWKIRK, Hayden -- Newkirk placed second in the 4A boys 3,200-meter run and fourth in the 1,600 in '19 before the entire '20 season was wiped out by COVID-19, and geared up for the current track campaign with his first individual cross country title last fall.

• LENNY NJOROGE, Topeka West -- Njoroge, a sophomore, is already a two-time 5A boys state cross country medalist as he competes in high school track for the first time. Njoroge placed second in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters in the ESU Relays.

• TAYLOR ROTTINGHAUS, Shawnee Heights -- Rottinghaus turned in top-two finishes in the 100, 200 and 400 in the ESU Relays, including a win in the 400 in 59.55 seconds. Rottinghaus added second-place finishes in the 100 and 200.

MarquelRussellWashburn Rural senior Marquel Russell is a former 6A state placer in the 110-meter hurdles. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

• MARQUEL RUSSELL, Washburn Rural -- A senior, Russell is a former 6A runner-up in the boys 110-meter high hurdles and opened his season with a win in the 110s at last Thursday's Jerry Beardslee while finishing second in his first 300-meter hurdles event as well as the long jump.

• JEREMIAH SMITH, Shawnee Heights -- Smith, a sophomore, turned in a four gold-medal performance in the ESU Relays, clocking outstanding winning times of 14.75 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles, 10.36 in the 100 dash and 22.20 in the 200. Smith also ran on the T-Birds' winning 4 X 100 relay (43.44).

• TAYLIN STALLBAUMER, Seaman -- Stallbaumer, a freshman, is undefeated in the girls 100 and 300-meter hurdles events in two meets this spring, sweeping those events in the Topeka West Mid-Winter Relays and the Beardslee Invitational.

TopekaWesttrackTopeka West's Victoria Reed and Ala'jah Brooks finished one-two in the girls 200-meter dash in the season-opening Mid-Winter Relays. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

• VICTORIA REED, ADINA DAVIS, MALAYAH HENDERSON, ALA'JAH BROOKS, Topeka West -- The Charger foursome of Reed, Davis, Henderson and Brooks won the 4 X 100 relay in the ESU Relays in 51.62 seconds, with the West sprinters/hurdlers/jumpers continuing their impressive start to the '21 season. Davis also won the triple jump and was third in the long jump, Henderson placed second in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles, Brooks took third in the 100 and Reed placed second in the 400 and third in the 200.