2023 was highlighted by the Raptor Ladies defending their 4x200m Relay State Championship, and placing 5th as a team in the 5A State Meet. Pictured (L to R) the 2023 5A 4x200m State Champions Kiara Garcia, Jaylynn Wilson, Bianca Gleim, & Maya Walters. Photo courtesy Zsa'nee Gaines.
Resilience. That was the story of the 2023 Eaglecrest Raptors Track & Field team. Faced with overwhelming tragedy in the passing of two of their beloved teammates in the Fall of 2022, the Raptors revealed their will and love for one another as they banded together to make 2023 a season for the record books. The "Raptor Strong" arm sleeves reminded the EHS athletes who they were competing for, and the sea of red jerseys disembarking from the buses on meet day reminded their competitors that Eaglecrest will be a formidable opponent for the foreseeable future.
There were over 250 athletes on the team in 2023, which made for a very busy meet schedule each week. Mondays consisted of extended celebrations, as we reviewed all of the incredible performances by the athletes throughout the previous week. Some of these highlights included the record number of pole vaulters who competed this year, the relay dominance that we showed at the lower levels, the Boys Centennial League JV Team Championship, the 68 all-time top-10 school marks, placing in four different events at the 100th Annual Kansas Relays, and ultimately the incredible success at the State Meet.
Girls Bring Home Highest State Finish in School History
The meteoric rise of the Raptor ladies entered its second year in 2023. The girls combined for 47 points at the 5A State Championships, securing a 5th place team finish. This would be the highest team finish by the girls' program in the 33 year history of Eaglecrest.
On day one of the meet, the Raptors started off strong in the Field. Senior Maya Walters scored in the Triple Jump, placing 9th. The Raptors were represented by three athletes in the Shot Put in Seniors Blythe Cayko and Janna Preskorn and Sophomore Kaitlyn Hendrian. Cayko and Preskorn both got on the podium, placing 4th and 6th, respectively. Day one also saw the Raptors qualify the Sprint Medley, 4x200m Relay, and two individuals (Gleim, Wilson) to the 200m State Finals.
Day two was highlighted by the team of Keke Garcia, Maya Walters, Bianca Gleim, and Jaylynn Wilson bringing home our second consecutive State Championship in the 4x200m Relay. Friday afternoon also saw the Raptors qualify the 4x100m Relay and a 300m Hurdler (Carlsen) for Saturday's State Final races.
Day three concluded with four more podium finishes for the Raptors. Sophomore Jaylynn Wilson placed 6th and Senior Bianca Gleim placed 9th in the 200m Dash, Rachel Carlsen took 8th in the 300m Hurdles, and the 4x100m Relay team of Garcia, Walters, Gleim, and Wilson took 2nd place.
By the time the meet had concluded, the Raptor Ladies had made eight podium appearances on the way to their historic team finish.
Other highlights for the Raptor Ladies in 2023 included Senior distance standout Brianna Mullen, who is now continuing her Track/XC career at the University of North Dakota. The girls Triple Jumpers were huge as well, with three soaring past 34 feet (Walters, Garcia, George) and taking 3 of the top 5 spots at the League Championships. The top 3 spots in the Centennial League Shot Put were all taken by the Raptors, with Blythe Cayko taking the League title, Janna Preskorn placing 2nd, and Kaitlyn Hendrian placing 3rd. Bianca Gleim concluded her Centennial League career with a 200m Championship, and Jaylynn Wilson claimed the 100m title.
Raptor Boys Make Noise in 2023
The 2023 season was a breakout year for the fellas. From the strong Senior leadership at the top to the massive amount of talent among our underclassmen, the team took the form of a Colorado powerhouse program. It was a tall task to make the varsity lineup for the boys in 2023, as each event group was likely the largest and most competitive in school history.
Five of our boys combined to twice break the 22-year-old school record in the 4x100m Relay (Poku, Taylor, Cearns, Chapa, Gay), running a season best of 41.68 at the Centennial League Championships. In that race they edged out the defending State Champion Grandview team to take the League Title. The 4x100 squad would earn a 4th Place podium finish at the State Meet. Cearns, Taylor, and Poku also made it three Raptors to dip below the 11-second barrier in the 100m Dash, a feat that has not been accomplished at EHS in many years.
Our hurdle squad was another hyper-competitive group, as our varsity lineup was ever-changing due to the constant improvements among the boys. Sophomore Pierce Martinez battled injury late into the season, but came back to run an incredible race in the 300m Hurdles at the State Meet. Martinez was backed up by varsity hurdle standouts Wynton Zhang, Savon Johnson, Matt Sterling, Cameron Bell, Peter Ames, and Adam Dymond.
The boys distance squad came up huge in some of the biggest moments of the season, running a season best (and EHS all-time #6) time of 8:17.37 in the 4x800m Relay at the Stutler Twilight (Asare, Keppy, Cummings, & Morgenegg).
The jumps squad was led by Senior newcomer (and 3 sport athlete) Peyton Taylor, who qualified for State in both the Long and High Jump (he also competed in the 100m Dash and 4x100m at State). Peyton ended up in the State Finals in the Long Jump, finishing 10th, and took a 4th place podium spot in the High Jump. Junior Jayden Diggins also had a breakout year in the High Jump, qualifying for State in the event and taking 11th place. The boys took 4 of the top 7 spots in the High Jump at League, with Taylor winning the event, Diggins taking 3rd, and Logan Ryan and Bezalel Tizazu tying for 7th.
The 2023 season will be remembered as one of coming together in the face of incredible adversity, and achieving great heights as team in memory of Shenieca and Ryan.
End of Season Award Receipients-
Shenieca Harper Raptor Award
Shenieca Harper Raptor Award
Ryan Nowlan Raptor Award
Newcomer of the Year
Sprinter of the Year
Distance Runner of the Year
Jumper of the Year
Thrower of the Year
Fritz Fulton Hurdler of the Year
Pole Vaulter of the Year
Naizel Keys Miller
School Record 4x100m, 41.68
School Record 4x100m, 41.91
State Champions, 4x200m Relay