Tonganoxie track star makes history with four titles at Kansas State Championships

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 11:54 AM CDT
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TONGANOXIE, Kan. (KCTV) - Eli Gilmore doesn’t look like a legend, but the recent Tonganoxie High School grad attained that status last week.

He won not one, not two, or even three three state championships. No, Eli won four Class 4A titles at the Kansas State Championships.

“I don’t think anybody — many people — thought that it could be done,” he said.

Tonganoxie has a rich athletics heritage, but in the high school’s history, nothing like this has ever been done.

No boy had ever won the 400-meter, 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter races in the same year. Until Eli accomplished that feat.

He had to beat not only his competition but also fatigue. With five races in two days and muggy weather, the conditions in Wichita were less than ideal.

“It was hot and there were a lot of people,” he said. “After each race, I’d have to go in the building, cool down and recover. I had an hour and a half between each race.”

It takes a unique combination of speed and stamina to win at those four very different distances, traits he got from his parents.

“I was a sprinter and my wife was a distance runner,” dad Charlie Gilmore said. “So put the two together, he had the genetics there.”

This caps a senior year that saw Eli also capture the state cross-country championship. That’s five gold medals in one year!

And he was even given a police escort when he returned back to Tonganoxie. A large gathering of supporters also awaited him.

“The crowd was great,” Charlie said. “It was a great turnout that late at night — to his friends, community members coming out. It was just amazing.”

The only other person in Tonganoxie nation to know the feeling: his dad, Charlie.

“Thirty years ago, I was in his shoes,” the proud father said. “I won four state medals as well, and so to see that happen on the 30th anniversary, it was something special.”

Something that the entire Gilmore family can celebrate for years to come. And there might be more.

“I think the sky is the limit on what he can do,” mom Shawna said.

So, it’s safe to say that Eli Gilmore is officially a local legend.