Archive for Thursday, June 1, 2006

Weimer caps career with 3rd-place medal

June 1, 2006

Dustin Weimer's high school track career ended the way every athlete dreams of last week. Weimer finished on the medal stand at the state tournament in Wichita after taking third in the 800 meters. Days after the actual medal ceremony the Basehor-Linwood senior was still able to remember it in detail: the height of the podium, the size of the crowd, the emotions of the moment.

"It was a pretty neat experience," Weimer said. "It's like one of the coaches told me, there's 64 teams in my region and from those 64 only 16 people get to go to state (in the 800 meters). Of those only a few get medals, so it's just really exciting being one of the top three."

Weimer's time was 2:01.71, which was slightly behind the personal best he set the week before at the regional tournament. Although it left him just a couple seconds shy of a school record it was competitive with all the other state runners, even Abilene's Jeb Flynn, who finished in the top spot at 1:58.39.

"He may have been disappointed in his time, but he should be very proud of his effort," BLHS coach Steve Hopkins said. "He ran well and has been a joy to work with."

Hopkins said Weimer might have snagged the school record last Saturday if not for a blustery wind that seemed to slow most of the competitors. Weimer acknowledged that conditions might have affected some of the times, noting that Baldwin's Chris Elniff, who narrowly beat him at regionals, finished almost four seconds slower at state.

"I don't know exactly how strong, but it was strong," Weimer said of the wind. "I definitely could feel it coming down the front stretch straightaway."

Still, Weimer was able to rise up and overcome both the conditions and the pressure of the day to perform very near his personal best. His teammate, Adam Palfreyman, couldn't quite do the same. Palfreyman, a sophomore, qualified for state by going over 5-feet, 8-inches in the regional high jump, which tied a personal best.

At state the jumping started at 5-8 and Palfreyman wasn't able to reach it that time. He and two other competitors were dropped out of the tournament at that height. Still, Hopkins said just being at state and getting a feel for the atmosphere would help Palfreyman in the future. Weimer, as a senior and team captain, agreed.

"It will give him confidence," Weimer said. "I think just being there and knowing he's one of the top athletes will improve his confidence and maybe give him some extra motivation to get back there."

Weimer said that he knew the pressure of the state tournament tended to effect the younger athletes more because of what he had seen from his sister this year. His sister, Rachel Weimer, a freshman at St. James Academy qualified in three events at the 2A state level this year. She took second in the 800 meters and was eliminated in the preliminaries in her other events. Dustin said he could tell she was nervous and that she would probably perform better next year, and that the same was likely true for Palfreyman.

It's that sort of encouragement and leadership that made watching Weimer last weekend a bittersweet event for Hopkins. Although he was intensely proud of the effort and accomplishments of the senior, he realized that he would soon be losing a true team leader to graduation.

Weimer and good friend Will Peterson were the only seniors on the track team and the rest of the Bobcats honored them this year with shirts that read, "From Weimer to Will -- winning with class." One of Hopkins' biggest challenges next season will be to find captains who can take up where Weimer and Peterson left off.

"Those two young men are excellent leaders and great students, as well as great athletes," Hopkins said.

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