Bonner’s McClain wins Class 5A state title
Despite entering the weekend as the heavy favorite to win the Class 5A state high jump title, the weight of the world shifted to the shoulders of Bonner Springs High School senior Eddie McClain Saturday morning, as just one athlete stood between him and a title.
At least that's what Emporia junior Brandon Childs was hoping.
In reality, however, the opposite was true.
With all but one competitor out of his way, McClain went toe-to-toe with Childs in the finals.
As he has done all season, McClain entered the field at 6 feet and cleared it in one attempt. While the others around him fell out of the competition, McClain's next attempt came at 6 feet, 6 inches. He cleared that on his second attempt.
At that point only he and Childs remained and both of them were gunning for 6-8.
McClain cleared 6-8 in his first attempt and stood and watched as Childs failed in his first two tries. It was at that point that Childs tried to get into McClain's head. Rather than attempting his third try at 6-8, Childs passed. The gamble meant that Childs would have to clear 6-10 to stay in the match. But, because Childs' regional championship mark of 6-9 was an inch better than McClain's 6-8, it also meant that McClain would have to try the new height first.
McClain easily rose above the bar and locked up the state title. Meanwhile, Childs fell to second place only able to clear 6-6.
"I knew if I hit 6-10 on the first try it was over," McClain said. "It felt good because I broke down his plan altogether. But when I saw he passed (at 6-8), I was just thinking to myself, 'What is he really thinking?'"
After clearing 6-10, McClain rejoiced in the way he has trademarked throughout the years -- quietly and with a sly grin. No trash talking, no winks, not so much as a look in Childs' direction.
"I just kept to myself," McClain said. "And right afterwards it hit me that I can finally say that I'm officially a state champion."
With the gold medal already in his pocket, McClain attempted to wow the crowd by clearing 7 feet in his final jump as a high school athlete. The first attempt was close, the second attempt even closer. By the third attempt, McClain was out of gas, but not before the entire stadium took notice.
"I told the coaches that I was going to silence the crowd before my last just," McClain said. "But there were just way too many people clapping for me. I had the whole stadium clapping for me. So even when I didn't want (the spotlight), it was there."
McClain's state title was the highlight of the weekend for Bonner Springs. And it was particularly sweet for BSHS coach Jim Mitchell.
"What a great end to a great career," said Mitchell of his first high jumping champion. "Eddie leaves as an undefeated state champ, the top jumper in the state and he's nationally ranked."
McClain wasn't the only high jumper to make noise at the state meet. Fellow-senior Christina Delladio also saved her best for last, improving on her previous best finish of fifth place by taking third and bringing home the bronze medal.
Delladio, who like McClain leaves BSHS as the school record holder, took third with a leap of 5 feet, 2 inches.
"Christina did a great job of making some clutch jumps at the right time," Mitchell said.
The Bonner Springs high jumpers accounted for two of the three medals the Braves brought home from state. The boys 4x100-meter relay team of Ian Briggs, LT Lee, Anthony Brown and Chris Callahan snagged the other. The foursome grabbed the final qualifying spot for the finals and responded with a time of 43.37 seconds, finishing fifth in an extremely competitive field. The time was the second fastest in school history, just .07 seconds slower than the same team's regional title time.
In other action at last weekend's state meet:
- The Braves' 4x400-meter relay team of Josh McConico, Jobie Buehler, James Carter and Dylan Tuckel ran its second fastest time of the season (3:28.94) but just missed qualifying for the finals.
- The Braves' 4x800-meter relay team of Josh McConico, Jobie Buehler, James Carter and Dylan Tuckel reached the finals and outdid its personal best time by 11 seconds before finishing eighth, one spot out of the medal winners.
The squad's time of 8:11.64 was the fastest in assistant coach Bill Downing's tenure with the Braves.
- Carter ran a career best time of 2:00.39 in the open 800 but finished 10th in a tough field.
- Competing in two jumping events, Brown missed qualifying for the finals in the triple jump by one spot. His best leap of the day was 42 feet, 2.75 inches. Brown also missed the finals in the long jump, turning in a leap of 19 feet, 10.5 inches.
- Competing in two sprints, Callahan placed 10th in the 100-meter dash after running a stellar prelim time of 11.4 seconds. Callahan pulled up with an injury in the 200-meter dash and limped to a time of 24.2 seconds.
Overall, Mitchell was happy with the way his team competed at an extremely tough state meet. He left the track with nothing but fond memories of the 2007 season and was already looking forward to 2008.
"It was a great season," Mitchell said. "We accomplished a lot and will definitely need some underclassmen to step up and make up for the seniors that we'll lose."
In addition, Mitchell and the rest of the Braves will lose coach Anne Otroszko, one of the Braves' high-jump coaches, who is heading to Olathe South.
As for the school's newest state champion, he too had nothing but great memories of his last season as a member of the orange and black and is excited to get on with his future.
"It's not really over for me," Wichita State-bound McClain said. "So I wasn't sad at all. I'm ready to go to the next level. I'm looking forward to it."