Three Bobcat throwers qualify for state
Two seasons ago, the Basehor-Linwood track and field team failed to qualify any athletes for the state tournament.
Last year, coach Paul Brown and his squad took two participants to state, and that number increased by one this year, as three Bobcats qualified for the state tournament by placing in the top four at the regional tournament Friday, May 17, in Tonganoxie.
"If we just keep adding one qualifier every year, we'll be alright," Brown said of his team's accomplishment.
Heading up the list of BLHS qualifiers are the two Bobcats that qualified last season. Sophomore Katie Dukes will return to state in the shot put, and senior Dan Rundus finished fourth in the discus allowing him to earn the berth.
Rundus missed state competition last season because he qualified for a national forensics tournament in New York City. This season, Rundus qualified for the forensics tournament again and he will skip the track meet to attend the event for the second year in a row.
Rundus decided before regionals that he was going to the forensics tournament, so when he finished fourth and edged out a Lansing competitor by a few inches, BLHS coach Paul Brown asked Rundus if he would mind taking a disqualification so the competitor from Lansing could attend state. Rundus obliged, giving up his medal and his state berth.
"That was a very unselfish thing to do," Brown said. "I was very pleased he qualified. It's disappointing that he can't go, but he's got enough medals," he added, alluding to the several debate medals that adorn his letterman jacket.
Senior Justin Ishmael finished ahead of Rundus in the discus and he will make a state appearance for the first time in his career.
"It was extremely important for me to qualify," Ishmael said. "I didn't do my best at regionals and, I hate to say it, but I feel kind of lucky to qualify. Now I just want to go out and prove that I belong. Most people didn't see me getting first all year all they saw was my regional performance and that wasn't my best. I'm hoping my best comes at state."
All season Ishmael has been chasing two goals. One was to qualify for state and the other was to set the school discus record. With one goal now in hand, Ishmael said he's anxious to get one more shot at the school record.
"I'd like to place at state just to be known for placing at state," Ishmael said. "But I'd really like to set the record because then you're known in the book. I'm just hoping to go out and have fun."
BLHS coach Paul Brown said it might take the school record (154 feet, 1 inch) for Ishmael to place at state, but that either way he hopes Ishmael ends his career on a positive note.
"I really would like to see Justin walk away from track and field having accomplished a goal," Brown said. "If he sets the school record and that earns him a medal at state that'd be the absolute best."
For Dukes, it remains to see if her best is yet to come, but based on the competition in the girls shot put event, Brown said it's going to take quite a performance for Dukes to medal at state.
However, Brown said the experience the sophomore will gain is invaluable.
"If you get there as a freshman and then as a sophomore, you have a chance to win it by the time you're a senior," Brown said. "There are some really good throwers down there this year. Katie will definitely be able to place higher than she did last year."
Like Ishmael, Dukes was not terribly pleased with her effort at the regional tournament. Dukes said she could've done much better and she's hoping she will at the state tournament. On top of hoping for the best, she's planning on enjoying the experience and the atmosphere above all.
"You can have a bad day any time and not qualify," Dukes said. "So I'm going to take it all in, enjoy the experience and hope that I'm up to par and at my best when it's time to throw."
Dukes finished fourth at the regional tournament with a throw of 32 feet, 3 inches. She said at state, she's hoping to hit the 35- to 36-foot range.
Festivities for this year's events will begin Friday, May 24, and continue through Saturday, May 25.