Andale’s Katelyn Fairchild, Ty McPhail ready to take track skills to next level

By Joanna Chadwick

Louisville. Texas A&M

Top 10 all-time Kansas marks.

Ranked in the nation.

Andale seniors Katelyn Fairchild and Ty McPhail have some gaudy accomplishments in track. But, boy, have they worked hard to get there.

And on Friday, they will have one last chance to compete for Class 4A team titles, compete for individual titles and make their final marks.

“Considering that we haven’t gotten to be at state (since 2019), I’m ecstatic,”said McPhail about the 2020 season’s cancellation due to Covid-19. “… Missing the state track meet last year, it felt like all my efforts of the past year were taken away. It was terrible.”

The Class 4A track meet is Friday only at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium. Class 6A and 5A are Thursday, Class 3A and 4A Friday and Class 2A and 1A on Saturday.

Fairchild has signed with Texas A&M where she will throw javelin and likely shot put, while McPhail has signed with Louisville for pole vault.

While there were many track athletes struggling to hit top marks early in the season after a year off, that wasn’t the case with Fairchild and McPhail.

“They didn’t take time off,” Andale coach Tyler Ryan said. “The kids that did stuff on their own, they didn’t miss a beat. They were kicking butt from Day One. With a lot of kids, that was not the case.”

Fairchild and McPhail have stellar work ethics, and their families helped.

Both families poured concrete runways so they could practice at home. McPhail got a pole vault pit, too.

“We knew there was a chance the season would get canceled once practice was shut down at spring break,” McPhail said. “… Once everything was shut down, we got the concrete poured and the pit. I was practicing within three days.”

Fairchild started out throwing in the grass at home after school facilities were closed down last year. But with all the space they have, a runway was doable.

The Fairchilds also built a wall for her to throw medicine balls against on her non-throwing days.

The time away actually helped her.

“Obviously that extra season would have helped,” Fairchild said. “But it was a blessing in disguise. I battled with injuries sophomore and junior year. Junior volleyball season, I was really hurt with stress fractures. I knew I would go through it all again my senior year.

“The extra time off, it allowed me to rest. I’m the healthiest I’ve felt in years.”

McPhail hit 16-6.25 at regionals, which ranks 12th in the U.S. this year and is seventh in Kansas history.

Fairchild’s 175-4 in the javelin is second in the U.S this year and second in Kansas history.

“As talented as they are, their work ethic is even better,” Ryan said. “They were training all summer long. They weren’t taking that time off…. If there’s an opportunity to get better or be around other coaches, anything they can do to get better, they will find a way.”

They also bring along their teammates.

By May last year, McPhail had seven teammates working out with him on pole vault.

Andale is well-known as a pole vaulting school with Mark Schmidt as the vault coach. McPhail, Noah Meyer and Gabe Ungles finished 1-2-3 in regionals. On the girls side, Andale’s Annabeth Baalmann, Clarissa Rowland and Mary Meyer finished 1-2-3 in the pole vault at regionals.

It’s the same for Fairchild and the throws, where it’s a definite family affair. It’s Fairchild and her sister, McKenzie, as well as their cousins, Samantha and Riley Marx.

Riley, a sophomore, won the regional boys javelin with a 190-6.

On the girls side, it was Katelyn Fairchild, senior Samantha Marx and sophomore McKenzie Fairchild going 1-2-3. in regionals in the javelin. In the shot put and discus, Katelyn Fairchild won it, McKenzie Fairchild was second and Marx third.

It only helps that Andale has Robbie Spexarth coaching javelin, Mike Blasi coaching shot put and Will Bergkamp discus.

These are dedicated athletes. Dedicated in whatever sport they play, and in the weight room Katelyn Fairchild owns the records in the squat and clean, while McKenzie Fairchild does in bench.

Katelyn Fairchild and McPhail still have goals to achieve this week.

McPhail already set the school record, so he wants to jump 17-.75, which would break the 4A record.

“That’s a very high goal,” he said. “But I think, if the stars align and I do what I know I can do, I believe I can do it.”

Fairchild wants the national record at 184 this weekend. But her long-term goal is to be an Olympian.

“That has been my goal since I started doing javelin,” she said. “I want to get there, to be the best that I can be.”