LAWRENCE, Kan. — On a crisp spring day ideally suited for a track and field meet, there were few cooler customers at the 86th Kansas Relays than Kenzo Cotton.
The Papillion-La Vista sprinting star won his second Kansas Relays 100 meters title and anchored the Monarch boys’ 400 relay to victory Saturday at KU’s Memorial Stadium.
In both races, the junior cruised to the finish line as he posted his fastest time of the weather-impaired season. Cotton was his usual calm self on the track, moving a piece of gum around in his mouth during the relay and easing up just a bit at the finish of the 100 with a winning time of 10.69 seconds.
Not bad for a guy who has spent most of the cold, damp spring working out indoors. Cotton hadn’t competed in a meet since April 5 at the Millard South Invitational.
“I’ve been working on my starts and getting in better shape,” he said.
Cotton continues to keep his low-key demeanor even though more people are requesting interviews and a moment of his time after races.
When the Memorial Stadium cameras zoomed in on him after the 100, one announcer said, “Hey Kenzo, the camera’s on you. Let’s give a wave here.”
Cotton obliged and gave a quick wave while barely acknowledging he was on the replay board at the south end of the stadium.
Cotton won with one of his best starts of the season. It was a big improvement over his start in Friday’s preliminaries.
“I thought it was definitely better than yesterday,” Cotton said. “I was just a little slow getting out.”
Cotton has been taking the same measured approach to the recruiting attention he’s receiving for both football and track and field. Cotton, son of former Husker defensive back Curtis Cotton, has a football offer from Kansas State, and he said he’s expecting one soon from Ohio. He has visited with Nebraska coaches and paid his own way earlier this year for a visit to LSU.
In track, Cotton said Nebraska has been recruiting him harder than anyone else. If he chooses football at Kansas State, Cotton has been told he would be able to compete in track and field.
Cotton’s win in the 100 was the third of the meet for the Monarchs. Nick Bartels started things Friday with his victory in the 300 intermediate hurdles, and then Bartels and Cotton were joined by Lucas Hostetler and Jalen Allison on Papillion’s winning 400 relay.
With Cotton as the anchor, Papillion posted the fifth-fastest time in state history by winning in 41.94. Kearney was second in 42.71.
Cotton’s 100 time qualified him to compete in the adidas High School Boys’ Dream 100 on May 25 at Randall’s Island in New York. That event is part of the adidas Grand Prix meet, one of only two IAAF Grand Prix events scheduled in the U.S.
Cotton’s time would have placed him fifth in the college division final, just behind Nebraska’s Tim Thompson, who finished fourth in a wind-aided 10.61. The wind in the college championship was 2.3 meters per second while it was just 0.3 mps in the high school final.
Bartels was third in the 110 high hurdles in 14.76, just 0.01 seconds off his best time of the season. He still ranks No. 2 in Nebraska behind Andy Neal of Lincoln East.
Over hurdles four through seven, Bartels built a slight lead. But Justice Burks of Raytown South and Harvey Kendall of Grandview began to close the gap on the eighth and ninth hurdles. Burks won in 14.67, and Kendall was second in 14.75..
High school boys: Discus: 6, Nick Petersen, Kearney, 163-11. 7, Luke McNitt, Kearney, 163-4. 2-mile relay: 7, Kearney (Trysten Compton, Cody Wirth, Connor Krier, Casey Berg), 8:16.99. 400: 3, Jake Nelson, Elkhorn South, 49.17.
High school girls: Discus: 4, Aaliyah Pete, Elkhorn South, 137-9.
College men: Long jump: 6, Patrick Raedler, Nebraska, 23-3½. 8, Seth Wiedel, NU, 23-2. High jump: 1, James White, NU, 6-11½. 8, Carlos Hernandez, NU, 6-9½. Discus: 1, Chad Wright, NU, 198-6. 2, Cody Snyder, South Dakota, 172-3. 400 relay: 1, NU (John Welk, Dexter McKenzie, Ricco Hall, Tim Thompson), 40.35. 1,500: Colten Venteicher, UNK, 4:05.53. 800: 4, Paul Pape, UNK, 1:51.02. 400 hurdles: 1, Jodi-Rae Blackwood, NU, 51.50. 3, Tibor Koroknai, NU, 52.66. 1,600 relay: 2, NU (Blackwood, Christian Sanderfer, Hall, Cody Rush), 3:07.95.
College women: Discus: 5, Morgan Wilken, Nebraska, 164-1. Long jump: 3, Mara Griva, NU, 19-9¾. 5, Kara Mostoller, NU, 19-5½. 400 relay: 5, NU (Kari Heck, Mara Weekes, Lexie Oak, Breunna McCarty), 46.59. 800: 3, Marissa Bongers, UNK, 2:09.02. 100: 4, Weekes, 12.14. 400: 7, Oak, 58.42. 400 hurdles: 7, Ellie Grooters, NU, 1:03.26. 1,600 relay: 5, NU (Weekes, Oak, Grooters, Anna Minnick), 3:48.18.
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