LAWRENCE, Kan. – Tianna Valentine is going back to New York.
The Hazelwood East (Mo.) senior earned her golden ticket to the Adidas Dream 100 with a blazing 11.66 Saturday at the KU Relays.
Valentine qualified for the Dream 100 last year and finished fourth in 11.96. Her 11.66 did include a 2.7 tail wind, barely over the allowable 2.5, but there is little doubt she won’t be included in the final New York field on the heels of winning the KU Relays, which is one of three races to issue automatic berths with an accompanying qualifying mark.
“My start was right on point,” Valentine said. “That’s all I was looking for today – get out of my blocks, get out of my blocks – and once I knew I got out of my blocks I was gone.
“It’s amazing. That’s why I’m so happy that I’m going back this year because I want to progress, and it’s going to do nothing but make me better.”
Saturday’s quick start helped her get in front of the field that included rival Peyton Chaney of Nerinx Hall (Mo.). Chaney, who also raced in the Dream 100 last year, just missed the 11.7 qualifying mark with a second-place time of 11.73.
“I just know that once I’m up against her, we’re going to be fighting,” said Valentine, who will return to KU next fall as a member of the Jayhawks.
Papillion-LaVista (Neb.) sophomore Kenzo Cotton flirted with the boys’ Dream 100 qualifying mark of 10.5 with his KU Relays victory time of 10.61, which was wind legal.
“I had to catch up for my start because it wasn’t as fast as it usually is,” Cotton said. “(The Dream 100) would be awesome because I’ve never raced in that caliber of race, so it would be a learning experience for me.”
There weren’t any automatic qualifiers for the Dream Mile, although Shawnee Mission West (Kan.) junior Alli Cash came close to earning her spot in the girls’ race.
Cash, who won the 800 (2:13.99) on Friday, was content to sit back in the 1,600-meter pack through the first two laps. She started to separate herself from the field on the third lap before rolling to a 4:50.68, just missing the Dream Mile qualifying mark of 4:48.32.
“I didn’t know any of the details (of the Dream Mile); I was just racing I guess,” said Cash, who broke the 2008 record of 4:51.42 set by Emily Sisson. “I didn’t think I was close to the time, so I was just running, but I was happy with the time for my fourth race (of the meet).
“I’ll definitely keep that (qualifying time) in mind when I’m trying to motivate myself.”
The boys’ 1,600 started out very relaxed before Bishop Carroll Catholic’s (Kan.) David Thor stretched out the field on the third lap. Festus (Mo.) senior Drew White waited until final 200 meters to surge to the front and claim the race in 4:19.35 after running a two-minute split for the second 800.
“I was just going to run a good race and if I got second or third and ran a good time I’d be happy,” White said. “It didn’t go out fast enough to be a fast time. I knew that was kind of how it would be because there were so many guys looking for that first-place finish. I didn’t do anything stupid, just hung off the pack, and had a good kick that won me the race.”
White can still cement his spot in the Dream Mile by running a 4:08.55 in the 1,600 before season’s end.
Whitney Adams, a Francis Howell (Mo.) junior, blazed to a fast first 100 meters and then held off Clara Nichols of Millard South (Neb.) in the finals of the 400-meter dash to win in a near-record time of 55.28. Nichols ran a runner-up 56.07.
“She really pushed me a lot, and I’d like to thank her,” Adams said. “I was tired from yesterday, and that was good motivation for me.”
Smoky Hill (Aurora, Colo.) intends to return to 3,200-meter relay supremacy in Colorado, and the Buffaloes took their first step at the KU Relays. The Buffaloes surged to the front of the pack by the third leg, and senior Tanner Ruhl used the final lap to pull away and win the event in 7:59.99.
It was a 16-second PR for the squad, which was running the race for only the second time this year. The same quartet finished third (7:44) at the 5A state meet last year after winning the event in 2010.
“We’ve all been trying to qualify individually, so this is the first time we’ve actually gotten to get out and run it,” Ruhl said. “I think this puts us second in our state, so we’ve still got some work to do. We’ve always had a strong 4x8 at Smoky Hill.”