Two Bobcats to represent track team at state
The Basehor-Linwood track and field team had two athletes qualify for state at last Friday's regional meet at Tonganoxie. One of them could almost have been considered a shoo-in, while the other came completely out of the blue.
Dustin Weimer qualified by running the 800 meters in a blazing 2:00.56, his best time ever. He led for most of the race's two laps, but was passed by a runner from Baldwin just a few meters from the finish and had to settle for second.
While Weimer had been gearing up for a trip to state all year, his teammate, Adam Palfreyman, didn't really think about the possibility until it was a reality. BLHS coach Steve Hopkins had expected to hold the sophomore high jumper out of regional competition, but when only six high jumpers showed up he sent assistant coach Mike McBride over to Palfreyman to tell him to get ready.
"I didn't find out until the last minute," Palfreyman said. "I just thought I'd do my best, I didn't think I would make it, but I pulled through and qualified."
Palfreyman had been consistently jumping 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 all year. He hit 5-8 on his second try Friday, which was good for fourth place and a trip to Wichita. He also nearly cleared 5-10, his back foot barely clipping the bar. With another week to train before state, Palfreyman hopes to work his way up to a new personal record.
"I think I could get 5-10, maybe even 6-feet if I really try," he said.
Palfreyman will start jumping at 8 a.m. Friday. But whatever he does this week, Hopkins is excited about the sophomore getting the valuable experience of the state tournament atmosphere.
"He gets to practice for an extra week and then go down and compete in front of 20,000 people," Hopkins said.
Weimer, on the other hand, is a senior, and for him the trip to Wichita will be less about gaining experience than about capping off his track career in fitting fashion. He looked ready to do that last Friday, as he started off the 800 at a torrid pace, jumping to the front of the pack and challenging all the other runners to keep up.
The senior held off runners from Fort Scott and Spring Hill to retain the lead after the first lap. He ran that lap in about 58 seconds, almost exactly the pace he had set for himself going in.
"My goal was to run the laps in 57 (seconds) and 60," he said. "I normally do start really fast, but Coach and I have been working on getting those times closer together."
Weimer looked like he held his pace to the very end, but towards the finish a few runners began to close on him. Even when the taller, longer-striding competitor from Baldwin pushed by him he kept his focus and finished strong.
"I wasn't going to let the Spring Hill guy behind me beat me," he said. "I was going to finish second."
Weimer did that, in the process beating a number of people who had bested him before. Friday's field included James Carter of Bonner Springs, who finished ahead of Weimer a few times this year, and a different competitor from Baldwin who beat him out last year for a spot at state.
"This time I beat him and was ahead the whole time," Weimer said. "With people who have beaten me before I wanted to make sure I stayed out ahead so they didn't think they had any chance to pass me."
Weimer is now less than two seconds off the school record in the 800 and peaking at the right time to go to Wichita and see how his athleticism and guts stack up against the best in the state. If he runs his best, Hopkins is convinced he can be competitive.
"He's ranked fourth, as far as time, going into the state meet," Hopkins said. "He will run Saturday night and will only have the one race while some other athletes may be running more than one."
No female athletes from BLHS qualified for state Friday, but there were plenty of lung-busting performances by the girls, most of whom competed in multiple events. The 4x800 relay team of Megan Tush, Amanda Vitt, Caren Chellgren and Emily Lackner finished just .7 seconds away from the school record, despite running in sweltering 90-degree heat.