Bucklin's Caitlin Long hasn't had the best of times at the Class 1A state track meet.

    The junior has been one of the top hurdlers in the area the last couple of years, but something bad always seemed to happen to her when she traveled to Wichita State's Cessna Stadium for the final meet of the season as she searched for that elusive first-place medal.


 Bucklin's Caitlin Long hasn't had the best of times at the Class 1A state track meet.
    The junior has been one of the top hurdlers in the area the last couple of years, but something bad always seemed to happen to her when she traveled to Wichita State's Cessna Stadium for the final meet of the season as she searched for that elusive first-place medal.
    The bad luck seemed to continue Friday when Long — the No. 1 seed in both the 100 and 300 hurdles going into the state meet — false-started in her heat of the 100, disqualifying her from that event.
    But she had a different mood Saturday afternoon — a combination of happiness and relief — when she grabbed her first state title by winning the Class 1A 300 hurdles title with a time of 46.63 seconds.
    “I feel great, and I'm pretty exhausted,” Long said. “My goal has been to get a gold, and I've been waiting for it since my freshman year. And I finally did it.”
    Of course, considering her history, it wasn't going to be easy. Long held off South Barber freshman Erin Merklein down the stretch, beating her by .08 seconds. Long knew what to expect from her closest competition, so she had a special game plan against the freshman.
    “I glided on the curve because I knew that she was going to be coming on me. I waited and sprinted out when I felt her close,” Long said. “I knew she was behind me, and I knew there was no way I was going to let a freshman beat me. There's no way those junior girls would have let them beat me when I was a freshman, and there's no way I was going to let her.”
    Long wasn't the only Southern Plains-Iroquois Association hurdler to overcome frustration to win a state title.
    Jetmore's Isaac Bradshaw took the lead early and beat Greensburg's David Cesmat to win the Class 1A 100 hurdles title with a time of 15.50. Bradshaw's main frustration happened last year when he was passed at the end of the Class 2A 300 hurdles, and although the Longhorns senior was happy to win, he felt a little disappointed that he ran slower than in his Friday preliminary.
    “(Friday's time) gave me a little confidence, so I was a little worried about it because at state, I don't seem to perform my best,” Bradshaw said. “I've been waiting for this for a couple of years now, and it's finally good to finally be here. I feel wonderful and I got a little reward (hug) there from Caitlin (after the race).”
    Other area results:
    • Greensburg senior Kacey Fulton was the only area person to win two first places Saturday. Fulton won the 1A long jump event with a leap of 16 feet-6 3/4 inches early in the afternoon and completed her sweep with a victory in the 200 with a time of 26.73.
    “I felt good that I got a good jump in the wind,” Fulton said of her win in the long jump. “The wind was a big factor because the pit we normally jumped in was flooded and we had to jump against the wind. I was happy to win at the state.”
    • The Minneola girls team finished second to South Barber in the 1A team standings with 37 points. Their 4x100 relay team of sophomores Erin Sughroue and Kassy Ptacek  and freshmen Kara Minor and Jenny Lies overcame their youth and Marshall's injured right quad to claim the Wildcats' only event state title with a time of 51.89 seconds.
    Minor pulled away from the competition in the anchor leg to complete the title run.
    “I'm really excited since all four of us will be returning next year,” Ptacek said.
    Sughroue added: “I was nervous with all the people (before the race), but not any more.”
    • South Gray's Clyde Redger closed out his prep career by winning the 1A 800 run for the third time, but he had to do it in a completely different way than he did in 2007, when he won by a comfortable margin.
    This year, he had to come all the way from sixth place after one lap, sprinting the final 100 meters to win in a time of 2:00.45.
    “I wasn't really happy with it,” said Redger, who will be heading to Creighton to compete in track. “I wasn't feeling really good today. I'm happy that I finish as a three-time champion.”
    • Fowler's Nick Canton also closed out his career as a two-time champion in the 1A long jump, winning the event this year with a leap of 6-8.
    Canton, who plans to high jump for Kansas, said he tried to block out all the distractions of being at the state meet to win by four inches over his closest competition.
    “I just tried to stay focused,” Canton said. “It was pretty easy this year, but I had some competition at home this year.”