The magic continues…
Boys’ 400-meter relay continues improbable run to state finals
Wichita Mike Griffin didn't think it would be possible to top the rush he got when the Lansing High 400-meter relay team qualified for state.
He was wrong.
The rush of advancing to the state finals was much cooler, Griffin said.
"It feels pretty good to know that we made it to state," said Griffin, a freshman. "Then we found out we made it to finals and: man."
Griffin, Lance Fink, Jeff Slater and E.J. Corinealdi will find themselves in the finals at 4:35 p.m. Saturday because they turned in an even more thrilling performance than the one last week that helped them squeak into state.
The Lions entered regionals seeded sixth out of eight teams. They hadn't placed first in a race all season or run a time that merited serious concern from their opponents. That all changed with one perfect race.
Griffin's explosive start and a strong second leg by Fink put the Lions in the thick of the race. Slater caught someone on the curve and handed off to Corinealdi for a furious finish where he caught one guy and held off another runner for fifth place in a season-best time of 44.4 seconds - six-tenths of a second faster than their previous best time. A disqualification bumped LHS into fourth place and sealed their surprising trip to state.
The Lions had an outside shot at best to advance to the finals once they arrived at state. They entered the meet ranked No. 12 out of 16 teams. The top eight teams in the Friday preliminaries advance to finals.
With the odds stacked against them, the Lions had nothing to lose. Just like they did at regionals, however, they entered state with the goal of stealing other peoples' dreams.
Lansing was stuck in lane one which put it in position to chase down the other runners. That placing worked to the Lions' advantage. Griffin exploded out of the blocks and gobbled up the inside curve. Fink streaked down the backstretch and made a clean handoff. Slater caught two people on the final curve and handed off to Corinealdi who tore down the home stretch.
"Everybody had good handoffs," Corinealdi said. "My boy Mike, he had a good, good start."
LHS placed second in its heat, but six teams in the other heat had faster times. That meant the Lions were the last team into finals, thus they beat the odds again.
"We knew that we were the biggest underdogs coming in," Fink said. "We weren't even supposed to be here, but now we're making it to the finals. Our biggest goal was to run hard and have fun while we're doing it. We came through.
"We couldn't even win our own meet. Now we're going to the state finals."