Senior says goodbye with state medal
Corey Jones closes career with 6th-place finish at state track meet
Thirty-seven years ago, The Beatles first sang about getting a little help from their friends.
While BLHS senior Corey Jones could almost fit two of his lifetimes in the span that has passed since John Lennon and Paul McCartney penned that immortal song, he can certainly relate to the lyrics.
After launching his final shot put throw of his high school career to a lifetime best distance of 50 feet, 4 inches, and accepting his sixth-place medal at last weekend's state championship track and field meet, Jones said that the reality of earning state hardware hadn't really set in until the long ride back home was over and the medal was on display.
What had set in for the Bobcat standout, however, was how much of his success he owed to BLHS's other two state meet delegates, Ryan Robinson and Katie Dukes.
"Katie and Ryan helped me out a lot," Jones said. "They had both been (to the state meet) before, so they knew what was going on. They just told me not to look up into the stands, not to worry about what everyone else sees. Just go out there and do my best."
Jones' thank you card list didn't end with his teammates either. He also had plenty to say about how much BLHS Coach Leroy Scharnhorst and his staff helped him peak at state.
"The last week of practice was pretty intense," Jones said. "The video analysis helped us out a lot. We worked really hard that last week. There were only three of us there so we got to spend a lot of one on one time with the coaches. They helped me correct some things in my foot work that helped a lot."
According to Jones, his expectations going in to the meet weren't as high as his results. But exceeding his own expectations made the achievement that much greater for the senior.
"My goal was just to beat everyone else in our league that was in for shot put," Jones said. "But to place was awesome. It was great. I didn't plan on breaking 50 (feet) at state, but it happened. It felt really good. It's something I've always wanted to do. It's just a crazy feeling."
After Jones bested all comers from the Kaw Valley League and took home sixth place honors, Coach Scharnhorst seemed to be almost as excited as his shot putter.
"It was kind of wild," Scharnhorst conceded. "There was a lot of elation. Corey was still excited that night. His only disappointment was that he didn't beat the school record, and he only needed about three feet more to do that."
Fellow state qualifier and shot putter Katie Dukes demonstrated her team spirit after the meet by acknowledging Jones' feat as not only a highlight for her team, but for her as well.
"To see Corey place and get a medal had to be the highlight of my meet," Dukes said.
And Dukes is the resident expert on state meet highlights. The senior shot put competitor qualified for the state meet each of the four years of her high school track and field career. Despite a season threatening injury that the senior incurred early in the season, Dukes still managed to bounce back by regionals and qualify for her fourth state championship where she finished in ninth place in the shot put on the girls side of the competitions.
After placing in last year's meet, Dukes admits to having lofty goals for this year's championship despite her infirmity.
"It was pretty tough not making the finals," Dukes admitted. "I was there the last three years. I thought I was doing pretty well going in (to the state meet). I placed last year and then missed the finals this year by two inches and walked away with nothing. That's pretty tough, but to be there among all of those great athletes is still a great honor."
Especially tough for Dukes was sitting in eighth place with a spot in the finals until the last competitor edged her out by two inches in her final throw. Dukes recalled that moment with a lump still stuck in her throat.
"I remember her getting into the circle," Dukes said. "Scharnhorst was standing behind me saying 'This is it. Make it or break it.' I looked down and my hands were shaking. She took awhile to throw, and then when she did, I knew she had me. My heart just sank. She did what she had to do to get me out. It was a crusher."
Another Bobcat senior who felt the sting of state disappointment was hurdler Ryan Robinson. After capturing a career best time of 15.4 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles at the regional meet in Tonganoxie and having last year's state meet under his belt, Robinson admits that he had his eyes set on a state championship medal.
"I wanted to medal," Robinson said. "That was my goal. Not making it (to the finals) last year was disappointing, so I really wanted to make it this year. I was hoping to do better, and my time was faster than last year's, so I guess I did do better, but it was still kind of tough."
Although his senior hurdler was disappointed, Coach Scharnhorst was pleased with how Robinson competed and acknowledged that the Bobcat was facing an uphill battle.
"Ryan was in the fastest heat," Scharnhorst said. "That's a pretty big wall right there. That can get into your head a little. Ryan also had some contact with another hurdler which he hadn't had happen before, so that threw him off a little, too."
Despite his disappointment with his showing at the state meet, Robinson still conceded that he has little to regret about his season.
"The season overall was good," Robinson said. "After last year, I knew I should be able to compete with the best in the state, and I did that pretty much all year. I placed in the top three at just about every meet, so I feel really good about my season."
A final wrap up of the Bobcats' season and the senior trios state feats will appear in next week's edition of the Sentinel.