By CONOR NICHOLL
In one weekend, Thomas More Prep-Marian senior four-sport standout Jace Wentling collected all-state honors for two Monarch athletic teams. Additionally, he bumped to second in TMP history for most gold medals by a boy at the state track meet. Wentling significantly outperformed his regional seeding and captured the 3A triple and long jumps at Wichita State University’s Cessna Stadium. Plus, he helped the 400 relay deliver a bronze medal.
Wentling finished his career with three track championships after he won the 3A long jump as a junior. He has a strong case for the best across-the-board career by a Monarch boy ever. One of Kansas’ most recognizable names, Wentling is headed to Neosho CC baseball. He is a 16-season varsity letter winner for the Monarchs.
As well, state track culminated superb careers for TMP seniors Kassidi Yost and Emilee Lane. Both were all-state in at least two sports. Volleyball-wise, Yost is the school’s all-time assist leader, Lane all-time kills.
Yost tied the school high jump record with a 5 foot, 4 inch clearance at state. Lane, headed to Nebraska-Kearney volleyball, will play in the KVA all-star volleyball match at Washburn and the KBCA basketball all-star game at Kansas Wesleyan this June. Yost is planning to be a student and study microbiology at KU.
Yost, Lane and Wentling were three of the eight seniors for TMP track. Yost finished fourth in the high jump. Freshman Shalee Gottschalk was third in the 100. TMP girls won/shared the MCL title in basketball and track and captured the midseason basketball tournament.
First, Wentling help lead baseball to a regional championship. The Monarchs were the No. 2 seed in the Russell regional and had a significantly backloaded schedule because of weather. TMP, which co-ops with La Crosse in baseball, had played two games as of April 18. By contrast, Great Bend had played nine, Hays High eight and rival Ellis eight.
The Monarchs squashed 17 games from April 19 to May 18 and worked its way into the state tournament. Last Thursday, TMP lost, 8-2, to Girard in the state quarterfinals at Kansas State University. Wentling hit over .400 and picked up his first all-state baseball honor from the Kansas coaches. Later Memorial Day weekend, Wentling collected second team 3A all-state catcher, the lone Monarch named to the team. He batted .500 as a junior and posted a 3.42 ERA on the mound in 30.2 innings.
On Friday and Saturday, Wentling headed to Wichita State University for state track. Wentling was seeded third in the long jump at 21-7.5, and ninth in the triple jump at 41-10.75. The 400 relay, which also included key baseball player Mark Rack, was seeded seventh.
At state, Wentling posted 44-9 on his second triple jump and won the competition by 9.5 inches. In the long jump, he hit 22-8.5 on his fifth of six attempts and won by five inches. Burlington’s Ty Anderson was second in both events.
The relay ran 44.06 with Wentling, Lance Lang, Kade Harris and Rack. Harris qualified for state in four events and finished eighth in the 200.
“It’s been super busy, but super fun,” Wentling told SIK’s Bethany Bowman at state track. “You can’t get times like this back again, so I am just kind of trying to enjoy the moment and kind of be in the moment.”
Wentling finished tied for the school record in the triple jump at 44-10. Wentling tied Jason Flax’s mark of 44-10 set in 1991. Greg Lang, who was a 1993 state champion, has the long jump mark of 23-10.
Wentling’s 2021 state winning jump of 23-5.5 was his career mark and is 4.5 inches short of the school record.
Wentling was one a couple standout dual sport athletes this spring.
Columbus junior Kolt Ungeheuer was 3A honorable mention all-state middle infield and captured the 3A high jump title with a 6-8 clearance. Ungeheuer competed in his first-ever high school track meet in late April. He helped Columbus baseball to a state runner-up, the first trip to state in program annals.
While her team didn’t reach state softball, Olathe Northwest sophomore Kendall Yarnell was Sunflower League Player of the Year in the sport. She was 6A discus state runner-up in the girls’ discus at 138-3 and fourth in the shot put at 37-1.5.
Burlingame’s Daelyn Winters was second in the 1A high jump and fifth in the 1,600 relay. Burlingame didn’t make state softball, though posted a 16-3 record.
Winters is expected to again earn first team all-state softball.
Mill Valley had girls compete in both state playoffs in soccer and state track.
Last fall, Wentling was first team all-Mid-Continent League at a remarkable four positions: wide receiver, defensive back, kicker and punter. Wentling was third team all-MCL in basketball (top-15). TMP football had the best season since 2002 the last two years, including a Class 3A quarterfinal showing in 2021. TMP boys’ basketball has enjoyed back-to-back 3A final four appearances and three in the last four winters.
In track, Wentling now ranks second among Monarch boys behind the great thrower, Eric Thomas, who threw at Kansas State. Thomas set the 4A shot put record of 62-9.5 and posted 200-11 in the discus. That still ranks eighth on the all-time Kansas list, per historian Carol Swenson. Thomas won the shot put and discus three times apiece for six career championships.
Wentling stands second on the boys’ side in TMP track golds, per KSHSAA archives.
“My coach called me a ‘winner’ the other day,” Wentling said. “And he’s like that’s the best word to describe me, he said like ‘You are a winner, Jace.’ I don’t like to get cocky, but I have had great teammates, from football, to basketball, baseball, track, I mean all of them supporting me and helping me. My coaches and my family comes to every single one of my events in all of my sports. I love all of them, and they have helped me through this. It’s been such an awesome and fun and great high school career.”
Multiple boys have won two individual titles, including Jason Flax, Greg Lang (long jump), Troy Hoffman (hurdles) and Cole Ginther (distance). Several highly regarded Monarchs won one, including John McDonald, who is still tied for the school pole vault record at 15-6 and competed at KU. Notably Ginther ran at Fort Hays, while Flax played football for the Tigers.
Sam Dreiling was an indoor All-American at Fort Hays in the pole vault and went over 16 feet for Kansas State. His best high school finish was state runner-up. Ethan Lang and Cameron Fouts each enjoyed strong careers with FHSU track and combined for multiple top-five high school state showings, though neither won a title at Cessna. Fouts has the school javelin record at 190-8 and went over 200 feet in college.
TMP girls has a trio with more than three championships: Heather Ruder, Kim Haberman and Lorie Flax (Stein). Ruder and Haberman both ran at Kansas State. After high school, Flax had a highly successful run as Spearville’s girls’ basketball coach. Two of her children, Nathan and Elle, has standout Spearville careers. Nathan won a state title for Spearville football, Elle was a solid FHSU basketball player.