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Class 6-1A state track & field championships gets started this morning
spt mm Chris Burley 3
Chris Burley holds the Great Bend High School record in the pole vault at 14 feet, six inches. Burley will be competing in a talented field today at the Class 6-1A state track and field championships in Wichita. - photo by Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune

School records are hard to break.
You never know when it’s going to happen.
It just happens, and sometimes when you least expect it.
Maybe it will happen today.
Chris Burley of Great Bend High School shattered the appropriately named Skylar Butler’s 9-year-old pole vault record of 14 feet, three inches this spring.
The Panthers junior soared to a new school mark of 14-6 earlier this season at the Salina Central Invitational on May 3 at Salina District Stadium. It’s a height Burley has cleared every meet since as he enters today’s event in the 5A pole vault at the Class 6-1A state track and field championships.
After winning the regional crown at Salina last Friday, Burley promptly bumped the bar up to 14-9 in hopes of establishing a new school record, although it didn’t happen on that day.
You never know when it’s going to happen.
Burley came close last Friday at 14-9, brushing the bar with his leg, even though his arching back was well above it.
“The little bit of a tailwind, I liked that,” Burley said. “I probably could have made that last jump. I kind of blew through it a little bit too much, but it was probably my best jump, though.
“I need to figure out where I need to put my standards and I need to be more consistent on my poles because you have to keep bouncing around on the standard and it’s tough to play that.”
GBHS head coach Bo Black says Burley fits the mold of a hard-working, dependable student-athlete.
“As good as an athlete that he is, he’s even a better young man of character and integrity,” Black said. “He’s a treat to be around every day.
“He’s been flying over 14-6 for a month now.”
The top 5A pole-vault height this season is 16-1 by Nick Meyer of Wichita’s Bishop Carroll. He is ranked No. 1 overall in the state and 26th nationally, according to the ESPN HS Track & XC website.
Standard set for duo
Hannah Middleton and Selam Ball are striving to set a new GBHS girls’ pole-vault record.
Middleton, who matched her personal best of 10-0, and Ball, who cleared 9-6, placed second and third, respectively, at the regional meet to qualify for today’s state meet.
Ball also cleared a personal-best 10-0 earlier in the season.
“It always feels good to make it to state,” said Middleton, a junior. “We knew what we needed to get (to qualify) and we tried our best to get it.
“The school record is 10-6 (set by Lacey Moore in 2001).”
So what will it take to tie or break that mark?
“More practice,” Middleton said. “Get on new poles and that kind of stuff.”
Ball, only a sophomore, is striving for an ultimate goal of equaling or breaking the school record.
“I am a little disappointed because I didn’t get what I normally do (10-0) and I’ve set my goal at 10-6. I just have a smaller pole, and I need a little stiffer pole and I hope I can get that pole this weekend.
“To be honest, I think about (setting the school record) and I really do want to break it. Whether Hannah does it or I do it, it doesn’t matter. I hope one of us breaks it this season.”

 Sixteen state qualifiers
GBHS is taking a full busload to Wichita and Cessna Stadium on the Wichita State University campus.
There are 16 state qualifiers from Great Bend competing this weekend.
“When it comes to track and field, this is the big stage,” Black said. “Whether you’re first place at regionals or fourth place, you get to step on the big stage in the State of Kansas and it’s a big opportunity.”
Besides Burley, the only other regional champion from Great Bend is 400-meter specialist Hannah Wondra. She won the event in a personal-best time of 1:00.42.
“She is another example of running a best time as a senior in her last event,” Black said. “For her to break the 60-second barrier would be a huge accomplishment, something she’s really looking forward to.”