Tyler Banks, a sophomore from Oak Grove High School, came within an eyelash of becoming a three-time winner Friday night at the Bank of Grain Valley Invitational.

Tyler Banks, a sophomore from Oak Grove High School, came within an eyelash of becoming a three-time winner Friday night at the Bank of Grain Valley Invitational.
Banks won the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 55.20 seconds – in just the third time he’s ever competed in the event.
The redhead then came back an event later to finish second in the 400 meters to Ruskin’s Roland Denson, who won the event at the KU Relays. Banks then won the 800 (2:06.95) to cap a special night’s worth of work.
“To run those three events, with very little time between each event, tells you what type of competitor Tyler Banks is,” Oak Grove track coach Russ Adams said. “He’s just a sophomore, and he’s got that great kick. He’s going to just keep getting better and stronger. No telling what he might do when he’s a senior. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
Banks nearly outkicked Denson in the 400, losing 51.08 to 51.84.
“Denson didn’t know I was coming and he probably never heard of me,” Banks said. “He was kind of strolling to the finish and I was kicking it hard. I almost caught him. To just be near him, after he won the KU Relays, is pretty special for me.”
Denson’s Ruskin team won the boys title by scoring 151 points. The host Eagles were second at 143 followed by Oak Grove (120), Marshall (93), St. Mary’s (84.5), Lexington (42), Kansas City East (37) and Lee’s Summit Community Christian (11).
Ruskin’s girls also won their team title, scoring 211 points. Grain Valley (128) took second and St. Mary’s (94) finished third with Oak Grove (45) sixth and Lee’s Summit Community Christian (43) seventh.
The meet offered bookend victories for the Grain Valley boys, who opened with a win in the 3,200 relay and closed with Tyler Ishmael winning the final open event, the 3,200.
“Our distance guys are just outstanding,” Grain Valley boys coach Marc Cleveland said. “To get the win in the 3,200 relay to open the meet gives the guys a lot of confidence, and Tyler has been strong all year in the 3,200.
“Our distance coach, Mike Painting, has both the guys and the girls believing in themselves. They believe they can do things this year that they didn’t believe last year. And we think they’re going to keep getting better and better.”
Matt Teece anchored the 3,200 relay team, that also included Tyree Meadows, Tyler Akers and Ishmael.
“When you get that baton as an anchor you just don’t want to let anyone down,” said Teece, who was also third in the 800. “It’s a great way to give the team confidence when you start with the win in the 3,200 relay.”
Ishmael agreed.
“It’s all about points for the team,” said Ishmael, whose time of 10:56.14 was 52 seconds better than his nearest competitor. “We’ve got a lot of confidence – the distance runners and all the guys on the team.”
When asked if being a double winner in his school’s home invitational was special, he shrugged and said, “I want to win every time I run. But it is nice to win here at Grain Valley.”
Grain Valley’s Alyssa Webb proved it wasn’t just a big night for the boys distance runners, as she won the 3,200 for the Eagle girls.
“The kids all believe in themselves,” Cleveland said.
St. Mary’s won the boys and girls pole vault, with Michael Winner soaring 13 feet and Tess Hart clearing 9 feet to claim first-place medals (please see column).
Oak Grove’s Ryan Harrington cleared 6-2 to win the high jump.
“That’s a good height for Ryan,” Adams said. “That’s right on the bubble of going to state. And we all think he can go higher.”