Bonner Springs qualifies for state in 10 events
Heading into last week's regional track and field meet at Gardner-Edgerton, Bonner Springs High School coach Jim Mitchell knew his athletes would have to step up to earn their trips to state.
Boy, did they.
The Braves took home regional titles in three events, broke a school record in another and qualified 10 events for this weekend's state meet in Wichita. Even in doing all that, the BSHS boys finished fifth in the team standings, one week after winning their second straight Kaw Valley League title.
"That shows you how tough of a regional we were in," Mitchell said. "We had an extremely good day and we got right about what we thought we would get."
In all, Mitchell and his assistants will take 13 athletes to this weekend's state meet.
The highlights were plentiful for the BSHS boys.
Senior high jumper Eddie McClain cleared 6 feet, 8 inches on his way to a regional title and set himself up nicely for a serious run at a state title. McClain, who has cleared as high as 7 feet this season, enters the season finale as the odds-on favorite to win his signature event.
Joining McClain in taking home a regional title was junior James Carter in the 800-meter run and senior Anthony Brown in the triple jump.
Carter was the star of the show at the KVL meet, and he once again turned in a memorable performance at regionals, even if running the 800 and a couple of relays was more than he thought he could do.
"It was more than I bargained for," Carter said. "I would've just liked to run the relays and skip the 800, but somebody put me in the 800."
That somebody was assistant coach Bill Downing and his reasoning was simple.
"Somebody (Carter) has a chance to win the 800," Downing said.
Carter teamed with Jobie Buehler, Josh McConico and Dylan Tuckel in a pair of relays to take second place in both the 4x400 and 4x800-meter relays. The same foursomes will run those events at state, with Derrick Babcock and Alex Perica serving as alternates.
As for Brown, his regional title was particularly pleasing because of his second-place finish at league, in which he tied for first but lost in the second tiebreaker.
Brown's first-place tying leap at league was 41 feet, 7 inches. At regionals, he went nearly a foot farther, finishing with a 42-6 as his best jump.
"Winning regionals was way better than winning league would have been," Brown said. "It was just a lot more exciting and there was a lot more on the line. My coaches told me that at this point, it's not about jumping as far as you can, it's just about getting to state and then bringing your best when you get down there."
Like he last year, Brown also qualified for state in the long jump, taking fourth at Gardner. As he prepares for his final run at the state meet, Brown's hoping to improve on his finishes from last season, when he took eighth in the long jump and snagged the final medal in the triple jump by taking seventh.
"I think I have a shot to win the triple jump," Brown said. "I'm ranked right up there with the other jumpers. It's first or bust for me. But I'd at least like to get top five."
In addition to jumping his way into the state tournament, Brown also played a part in breaking a school record. The Braves' 4x100-meter relay team of Brown, Ian Briggs, Chris Callahan and LT Lee shaved .2 seconds off of the school record, running a 43.3 and finishing in second place to Kansas City Harmon, which ran a 42.97.
For Brown, who also helped break the record last year, the showing was no surprise.
"I really wasn't that shocked," he said. "I knew when we got the right 4x100 team together that we'd get it. When you have people out in front that you can chase (like Harmon) that pushes you and helps you get it."
Mitchell was not surprised either.
"I was expecting them to get it," he said. "But I was a little surprised they did it at Gardner because they used FAT times (Fully Automatic Timing) and that usually adds a quarter of a second to the time."
Mitchell's handheld time had the Braves at 42.97. Another BSHS coach had it at 42.95.
While Brown joined Carter in qualifying for state in three events, Callahan did the same. Callahan survived an incredibly competitive field of sprinters to take third in the 100-meter dash and fourth in the 200-meter dash.
Mill Valley's Justin Woods, who won both events at state last season, won both events at regionals this season.
On the girls side, senior Christina Delladio qualified for state in the high jump for the fourth time in her career. She tied for third by clearing 5 feet, 2 inches.
Delladio will once again be the only female representative at state for BSHS, but she's looking forward to finishing her career with a bang.
"I just want to place," said Delladio, who took fifth at state last year. "My performance at regionals was not how I want to go out."
Amanda Trent nearly joined Delladio in earning a trip to state, but missed out in the 1,600-meter run by .3 seconds.
Stuck in the slow heat, Trent won her heat by 60 meters, only to watch her time drop her to fifth and out of the money.
The girls' 4x100-meter relay team of Trent, Alyssa Kelly, Kiera Williams and Felisha Leipard also turned in a strong effort, finishing sixth with their best time of the season.
The state tournament is scheduled to get under way at 8 a.m. Friday, May 25 at Wichita's Cessna Stadium. Saturday's action is slated to begin at 9 a.m.