Bonner Springs has ‘great weekend’ at Kansas Relays
LAWRENCE — Prior to the state championships, there is no larger stage the Bonner Springs track team will compete on than the Kansas Relays.
If the performances Friday and Saturday at the Relays were any indication, Bonner Springs has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about what this year’s state championships might hold.
“The kids all ran hard,” BSHS coach Jim Mitchell said. “They went down there and they represented Bonner Springs High School track and field very well. I was very proud of them. It was a great weekend.”
The BSHS runners who competed turned in numerous season-best marks, and no performance was bigger than that of the boys 1,600-meter relay team that finished third in the Sunflower Showdown race. Clayton Rhodes, Cameron Callahan, Nick Carver and JJ Jackson knocked two seconds off their time from Friday to Saturday and posted a season-best 3:28.29.
Mitchell was ecstatic about the performance.
“There are four teams from our regional that were in the top 12 at the Relays; four of them from our regional,” Mitchell said, referencing Shawnee Heights, Topeka West and Topeka Seaman. “There’s four teams from the same regional that are running four of the top times in 5A right now, maybe the top four times.
“They were excited about that race. Any time you knock a couple seconds off and get a medal at a big meet like the Relays is great. I was very pleased. It was a great way to end the day.”
Prior to the 1,600-meter relay, there were other solid performances.
Brooks Ballou finished 23rd in the 3,200, but Mitchell was more interested in Ballou’s time than his place.
“Brooks ran 11 seconds faster than he ever has, so that was a plus,” Mitchell said of Ballou’s time of 10:00.96. “He felt good. He knows he can run with those guys, and it’s great competition.”
The sprint medley relay team of Rhodes, Carver, Jackson and Callahan finished 20th in 1:34.71, and the 3,200-meter relay team of Carver, Blaine Edmondson, Nate Mitchell and TJ Kimbrough took 39th in 9:03.74.
The lone disappointment of the day came in the 400-meter relay where Rhodes, Carver, Jackson and Callahan took 40th in 45.83, more than a second slower than their best time of the season.
The Kansas Relays experience was particularly valuable for BSHS girls sprinters Yessenia Hernandez, Tyreka Johnson, Irene Crump and Emily Wilson.
Mitchell began the season expecting the group should contend for a spot at state, and the Kansas Relays provided an opportunity to put them in a state-like atmosphere. They responded well as they ran a season-best time of 52.96 seconds in the 400-meter relay.
“It’s the fastest time (our girls) have had in many years. They took over a second off of their (best) time,” Mitchell said. “That was good, and they’re very excited about it. That’s what impressed me about it was the fact that they were excited about it. They’ve been to a big meet now and they’ve got some experience seeing that, and hopefully when we go to regionals they’ll keep improving and we’ll get them to state and they’ll be able to make a good showing at state.”
Up next for BSHS is the home invitational meet at 4 p.m. today. There is another meet Friday at Shawnee Mission West. It marks the beginning of the ramp-up period toward the postseason, and Mitchell said the rest of the season would be devoted to preparing his athletes to qualify for state.
“We’re just going to push them to peak at the right time,” he said. “We’ve got some good competition at our meet, and we’re going to see some teams from our regional when we go to Gardner. Now is when as coaches we start looking at times from other people and look at what we can do to get as many kids as we can to state.”