Ishmael closes career with medal
Chalk one up to experience.
For one Basehor-Linwood Bobcat, the experience of competing at last weekend's state tournament will serve as her driving force to get back to Wichita next year.
For another, it served as a way to close out a high school career.
Sophomore Katie Dukes and senior Justin Ishmael both competed at the 4A state tournament in less than ideal conditions in Wichita last weekend, and when it was all said and done, Ishmael walked away with a discus medal he he had been working toward for four years.
"I'm happy with sixth," Ishmael said. "When I saw the rain I knew that was going to keep the throws down and I knew I wasn't going to get the record. It was raining really hard and it was terrible out there, but I was glad I placed."
Ishmael's sixth-place throw of 142 feet 4 inches, fell a few feet short of the 154-foot school record that he had chased all season. But BLHS coach Paul Brown said seeing Ishmael on the medal stand was a remarkable sight.
"It was very pleasing and very exciting for him and his family," Brown said. "He takes everything in stride and he's not one of those guys who's real excitable, but I think this will sink in more and more as time goes on."
For a while on Saturday, it almost never sunk in at all. As Ishmael and the rest of the medalists gathered near the platforms, the judges discovered an error in the scoring that delayed the medal ceremony for nearly 45 minutes. By the time the error was corrected, Brown said it looked like most of the medalists just wanted to get it over with.
"It was kind of anti-climactic by the time it finally happened," Brown said. "But it was still a very exciting moment for Justin. It wasn't conducive out there for him to set a school record, but winning a medal at state is a great accomplishment."
For Ishmael, just being up there was a thrill in itself. He said he wasn't intimidated, but rather in awe of all the schools represented at the state tournament. Based on the number of participants, Brown said the Kansas state high school track meet is the largest track and field event in the western hemisphere every year. Because of that, and several other things, Ishmael said it was an event he'll never forget.
"Winning state would've been the best way to go out," Ishmael said. "But this was pretty good. When I looked around and realized I had placed at state, it was an awesome feeling. That was the best part."
For Dukes the trip taught her, yet again, what it takes to do well at state. This was the second straight season Dukes had qualified for state, but after finishing lower than she would've liked in the shotput, she's ready to change some things for next year.
"This being the second year for me, I'm about tired of losing down there," Dukes said. "I'm going to push a little harder this summer to get myself ready to go down there next year and have some success."
Brown said Dukes' results at the state meet should not overshadow her outstanding sophomore season.
"I know she was disappointed," Brown said. "She definitely didn't have her best day of the year. But she still had an outstanding year and she should be very proud."
Brown said he thought Dukes was disappointed because she didn't taste defeat all that often this season.
"She hasn't been beaten very many times this year and that's a great tribute to her and what she's accomplished," Brown said. "Her goals were high this year and they should've been, but she's got two more years to get it done and I'm very excited for her next couple of years of track."
Dukes said she began preparing for next year the minute she got home from Wichita, and she will continue to do so throughout the summer. She's hoping the extra work this year will result in a higher finish and perhaps a state championship next year.
"I wish I would've pushed myself harder all year," Dukes said. "I've already started preparing for next year and I'm going to work a lot harder this summer and offseason to make sure I do better at state next year. It was a lot of fun going back, though."
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