Wildcats make mark at state meet
Teams earns four medals at Wichita
The past two seasons De Soto had qualified plenty of athletes for the Kansas 4A State Track and Field meet in Wichita and watched them get blown away.
But this season 10 athletes qualified, and four of them came home with medals, the best showing the Wildcats have had the past three seasons.
"This was by far the best meet we had in some time," said De Soto track coach Chris McAfee. "We took home as many medals this year as we did the past two seasons combined. It was the best year in that everybody that competed was in position to medal."
McAfee credits the hard work and dedication his athletes displayed all season for last week's successful state meet.
"The kids worked extremely hard to earn their medals," McAfee said, "It was neat to see their dreams come true. We had a great season with plenty of ups and downs. But when we needed to buckle down and compete, we were able to do that."
Casey Johnson was such an example. Going into the state meet in the 800-meter run, Johnson hadn't broken the two-minute barrier once.
But on Saturday, Johnson fought his way out of lane one to earn a third-place medal. He was able to break two minutes in a race that had eight runners finish within one second of each other.
"It didn't dawn on me that lane one would be staggered at the beginning of the race until Saturday morning," McAfee said. "So I told him (Johnson) he'd have to get out and lead from start to finish -- to avoid getting boxed in.
"At the 500 meter mark, he was still in the lead. With 170 meters to go, he had a two-stride lead. Casey put himself in position to win the race, but it just wasn't his day to win it."
Pete Crall competed in three events over the weekend and came home with a fifth-place medal in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.20 seconds.
He also qualified for the 300 hurdles, but he had trouble clearing the first two hurdles and had to settle for a fifth-place finish in his heat.
Crall finished eighth in the high jump with a leap of six feet.
Lisa Lambert was sitting fourth after the preliminaries in the javelin throw. But she had to settle for sixth place with a toss of 121-9.
Julie Beck finished seventh in the preliminaries of the long jump, and barely qualified for the finals with a leap of 15-10.
But the senior four-time qualifier found enough speed and strength to muster out a 16-0.75 jump, taking fifth in her specialty.
McAfee was disappointed in the effort of freshman distance ace Carrie Wilbert in the 1,600. With a legitimate shot at a medal Wilbert started off at a fast pace, against the wishes of McAfee, and faded toward the end, finishing in a last-place time of 6:13.0.
"I think she got so nervous that she looked at it as a privilege just to be there," McAfee said. "She forgot to compete. I think she thought it didn't matter where she ended up."
Ryan Frame finished two feet out of the medal hunt after throwing the discus 112-7.
The boys 1,600 relay didn't advance to the finals, and Levi Azeltine was tripped and forced out of his lane in the boys 3,200 meter relay.
"We lose some great athletes," McAfee said as he reflected on next season. "But we do have some kids that will be able to step into spots.
"We felt like we were coaching two different teams this year. A team of veterans, and a team of youngsters. But I think we were able to accomplish what we were trying to do. It was a bittersweet ending to get ready for next year."