By CONOR NICHOLL
Quinter’s John Crist has coached at his alma mater for 30 years in a variety of roles, mainly as head boys’ basketball coach and a track coach.
Crist has quick recall of Quinter’s five consecutive boys’ state track and field titles from ’92-96. The first two came in 1A and the last three in 2A. The Bulldogs captured girls’ crowns in ’92 and ’93. Those are the only track and field state titles in school annals.
The 1993 boys’ title came with 46 points, three ahead of Quivira Heights. In an extreme rarity, QHS did not win any events. Quinter took second in the 3,200-meter run, fourth in the 3,200 relay, third in the 1,600, third in the 400 relay, fourth in the 400, fourth in the shot put, fifth in the discus, tied third in the high jump, third in the javelin and sixth in the pole vault.
The ’94 crown had even more depth in events. Quinter tallied 77 points – and won just one individual event, the 400-meter run by Shawn Maxwell in 50.40 seconds. The Bulldogs captured two relay titles, the 400 and 3,200.
Quinter’s current boys’ track team has echoes of those ’90 squads. Quinter boys has someone in every event, except pole vault. Crist said “a lot” of Bulldogs can score in multiple events. Quinter boys are a significant contender for a 1A regional and state title.
Crist’s top goal is to finish in the top-three at state and secure a team plaque.
“I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that we could be there at the end with a state championship, but you’ve got to have a lot of things go right,” Crist said.
The Bulldogs are loaded in the relays. Bradley Bogert, Quinter’s best 400 runner since Maxwell, is the lone QHS athlete ranked No. 1 in any boy event, per Kansas historian Carol Swenson. He has posted 50.08 seconds in the 400. Seventeen runners, all but one in 4A or higher, has broken 50 seconds.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Crist said. “We’ve got good throwers, we’ve got good jumpers, we’ve got sprinters, we’ve got distance. And it does remind me a lot of the ‘90s when we had those really good teams.”
Quinter boys went seventh, third, second and first in state cross country the last four seasons. Last fall, the Bulldogs had all four of its top runners in the top-20 for all-state: sophomore Hans Deaton, freshman Elliot Churchwell, junior Micah Simon and senior Matthew Elder. Quinter boys took fifth at state track last year.
Quinter girls, under head coach Ed Mense, earned first and fourth the last two falls in state cross country. Junior Saige Betz, sophomore Brooklyn Countryman and senior Leah Anstaett led the way in cross country. Those runners are all key in track.
At the ’22 state meet, QHS girls were fourth in the 3,200 relay. The Bulldog boys were third in the 1,600 relay, less than a second from first, and second in the 3,200 relay.
“Kids want to be on the relays,” Crist said. “It’s fun for them, so there is a lot of competition to get on those relays. We have had a lot of success in the distance relays, both 4×8 in the girls and boys for the last several years have been very good, and I think a lot of that is the cross country success that we’ve had.”
At league last week, Quinter boys finished second in the 400 relay, and first in the two longer relays at league. They posted a 46.53 in the 400, 3:47 in the 1,600 and 9:53 in the 3,200. The girls finished third, second and first in the three relays.
“We have been fortunate to have some good kids coming through right now that are fast,” Crist said. “That are competitive. They feed off of each other. There’s a lot of competition to get on those relays.”
The girls have set school records this season with freshman Mia Briggs in the pole vault and sophomore Addie Hargitt in the javelin. Both QHS teams won the Northwest Kansas League title last week. Quinter girls has competed the bulk of the spring without standout junior Kennedy Werth because of a hamstring injury.
Werth was a state placer in two events in ‘22 and a multi-year starter in basketball. She was a key player on the Bulldogs’ 1A-I state runner-up team in the winter.
Both teams, especially the boys, have a strong chance to win the 1A Greeley County regional Friday. Likely Quinter, Meade and Axtell are the three leading contenders for the 1A boys’ track crown next week at Cessna Stadium.
Plus, Crist has significant travel plans in the next couple weeks. Three of his and wife Amy’s four children get married in the next two months – in three different states. Scott Crist, a QHS teacher and longtime assistant high school girls’ basketball coach, is moving to Texas. He is getting married Sunday.
On Friday, coach Crist will drive 234 miles round trip to Tribune. Then, the family will wake up at 6 a.m., and will drive more than 1,000 miles round trip to Midland, Texas for the wedding. A few days later, Quinter will head to Wichita for state track. The next two weddings are in July, the first in Laramie, Wyoming, the second in Quinter. He is also teaching driver’s education and coaching summer basketball.
“Summer is going to be a little bit busy, but it will be fun,” Crist said.
Quinter’s top athlete is Briggs, known for her incredible all-around athleticism. Briggs was involved in gymnastics as a youngster, which Crist called a “huge difference” for athletes. Briggs has mainly competed in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, high jump and pole vault.
Briggs had spent significant time going to Jamestown, near Concordia, and the longtime well-known Tailwind Pole Vault academy led by Dr. Mark Breault (known as Doc Bro). Briggs has made the 169-mile one-way trip at least since her seventh-grade year. She has competed well on the AAU circuit.
At the May 5 Dighton Invitational, Briggs broke her own school record with an 11-foot clearance. She is the lone 1A girl to clear at 10-6. Briggs is currently tied for ninth in all classes. She is tied for fourth in the class with a 5-3 high jump clearance. Briggs is top-four in the 100 hurdles, too.
Plus, freshman Shaylee Baalman has posted a strong season. Baalman has participated in the high jump, 800-meter run and 3,200-meter relay. Early in the fall, she cleared 100 feet early in the javelin.
Hargitt, though, is now Quinter’s all-time best javelin thrower. A high-level summer softball player who has attended several showcases, Hargitt started for the volleyball team last fall and a basketball reserve.
QHS’ school javelin mark was 119 feet, 4 inches in 1994. Hargitt had consistently thrown around 109 to 112 feet and had a previous best was 116. Hargitt, who didn’t qualify for state as a freshman, has worked hard to improve and even bought a personal javelin.
The Dighton meet had warmer conditions and the wind wasn’t blowing 40 miles per hour.
“Really the first nice day,” Crist said.
Hargitt threw 120 feet, 3 inches to break the mark. She is ranked second in the regional and No. 10 in 1A, per Catch It Kansas’ track leaderboard. Crist was watching the javelin area from afar. She saw Addie’s throw, and her dad, Brett, raise his arms in celebration. He walked over to check the mark.
He didn’t hear about Briggs’ pole vault record until he came back to the school from the throwing area. Crist asked someone, “How did Mia do?” They said, “Well, she went 11 foot.”
“My jaw about dropped,” Crist said.
Crist has long said that he knows if Quinter has a good track team by its 400-meter runners, since those athletes can often move up and down in distances. Bogert has always run the 400 since he started with junior high track. As a freshman, Bogert had the top 1A regional time in 50.93 seconds.
The 2021 track meet didn’t have prelims because of COVID restrictions. Bogert was winning his heat until about 40 meters left. A runner came up on his inside shoulder. Bogert tried to bear down and stumbled. Crist thought he was going to fall. Bogert regained his balance, but some athletes passed him and he took fourth in 52.4.
Last season, he finished third in 52.1, the only non-senior in the top-four. The finish was motivation for this spring. Bogert played basketball, though Crist saw him often trying to improve his speed.
Bogert posted his best time at Dighton. He looks to become the first Quinter runner to break 50 seconds since Maxwell. Bogert has not been pushed in the regular season. He ran 51.85 at league and won by nearly six seconds. Crist believes there’s “no doubt” Bogert will break 50 with low 49s, high 48s a possibility.
“To his credit, he has spent a lot of time really working,” Crist said. “…He’s just built differently. He has got speed.”
Deaton had missed the Dighton meet because of injury. At league, he took runner-up in the 1,600 and 3,200. Senior Zayne Beckner has cleared 20 feet in the long jump several times. Crist called him a “fierce competitor” who opens the 400 relay and is key on the 1,600 relay.
“Gotten a little faster his senior year,” Crist said. “Really been a good leader.”
Elder and junior Trace Kinderknecht have been steady leaders in multiple sports for years. Elder and Beckner are the lone senior boys. Kinderknecht is a talented football player and should be one of eight-man’s best next fall. He starts the 1,600 relay and starts the 400 relay. Crist called him a “tremendous sprinter” and a piece who can run multiple events.
“Matt has just been a great kid,” Crist said. “Really works hard in cross country, and then carries that over to track in the spring.”
Dashiell Brown didn’t qualify for state last season, though has posted 47 feet, 9.75 inches in the shot put, top-four in 1A. Brown plays on the line in football and loves to lift weights.
“Incredibly strong kid,” Crist said.
In the field, Lakin Getz is fifth in the discus, ninth in the shot put and seventh in the javelin. He has a potential to qualify in all three throwing events. He took third in the javelin at state last spring and had the top returning throw. Getz hurt his shoulder in football, an injury that’s been aggravated from throwing the javelin.
Getz has not reached the 171-3 he threw at state last season. Javelin is easily his best event, though the shoulder has kept him from fully practicing the implement. More time with shot put and discus has put him in state contention.
“He keeps telling me he’s going to get there,” Crist said of 170 in the javelin. “And I’ve learned one thing – I never doubt that kid, because if he says he’s going to do something, he usually does it.”
Getz and Quinter’s throwers have a little rivalry with Triplains-Brewster senior Brock Woolf, who grew up in Quinter. Brock’s dad, Greg, coached Quinter football and led the Bulldogs to a ’09 state title. Woolf, headed to Kansas State football, is in the GC regional. He is ranked first in the shot put and discus in 1A.
“They like competing against each other,” Crist said.
Crist does not recall a QHS thrower ever qualifying in all three events for the state meet.
“That’s rare,” Crist said.
The best comparison for Getz came also from the ‘90s, too. Mitchel Feldkamp won five throwing medals between ’92-94 and helped the Bulldogs to several state track titles. Getz could play a similar role for QHS next week, too, as the Bulldogs look to win its first track crown in nearly 30 years.