Take a bow
Braves dazzle, dash to second-place finish
Wichita The medal haul was huge, but the state trophy was even nicer for the Bonner Springs boys track team.
The small-in-numbers but fast-on-their-feet Braves capped the season with a second-place finish in Class 5A on Saturday at the state track meet at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium.
"I'm real proud of them," BSHS coach Jim Mitchell said. "They've done everything we've asked them to. They've run hard. They performed the way I thought they could. This was a great day."
The Braves got off to a great start at state on Friday when Jonathan Walker placed fourth in the triple jump. His best leap was 44 feet, 10 1/4 inches - a personal best.
Meanwhile, they also took care of business in their preliminary races as Jonathan and Jeremy Walker advanced to finals in the 110-meter hurdles, Jeremy Walker qualified in the 110 and Jonathan Walker moved on in the 200. In addition, the 400 relay team of the Walker twins, Ian Briggs and L.T. Lee broke the state record with a time of 41.86 seconds - more than a second faster than the next best qualifier.
The success carried into Saturday's finals. First, Jeremy Walker won the long jump with a leap of 22-3 1/2. He then turned around and finished second to his brother in the 110 hurdle finals. It marked the second straight year than Jonathan and Jeremy Walker went 1-2 in the event.
After that, Jeremy Walker won the 100 in a blistering 10.64.
Then it was time for the 400 relay finals, the main event as far as the Braves were concerned. After feeling snubbed by the lack of recognition when they broke the state record in the prelims, they turned around and ran even faster. They worked out a few kinks from their preliminary race - Briggs said he could've started faster, and a few of the handoffs weren't smooth - and they circled the track in a toasty 41.64, the third fastest time in Kansas history and the best ever in 5A.
After the race, Briggs couldn't help but laugh when asked about the adjustments the team made to run even faster.
"I felt like I was slipping just a little bit there at the beginning, and I was running kind of high at the end (of prelims)," Briggs said, shaking his head. "I don't know about this, though. I don't think I made up that much ground."
Then it was James Carter's turn. He pushed from ninth to third place on the home stretch of the 800 and finished in 1:58.08, a personal record by 2 seconds.
"Can't say enough about that. That was just huge," Mitchell said of Carter's performance, which moved the Braves into second place.
"I knew I had to go. I gave it all I had," Carter said. "I was trying to go for first, but they were too far ahead."
Carter's strong finish set things up for Jonathan Walker, whose victory in the 200 in 22.33 pushed BSHS into a tie for first place with Emporia in the team standings.
Emporia's 1,600 relay team finished sixth in the final race of the meet, however, and bumped Bonner Springs back to second in the standings.
The Braves took two first-time qualifiers in senior high jumper Aaron Hill (14th place, 5-10) and sophomore discus thrower Jake Berran (15th, 108-6).
Even though they narrowly missed winning a state championship, Mitchell said he was proud of his athletes for the effort they put forth.
"This is a special meet," he said. "I knew we had a shot. I knew we had a chance, and right up until the end we were there."