Track teams send 10 to state meet
Ten tracksters qualify at regionals
Ten members of the Eudora High School track and field team punched their tickets for the state track meet during last Friday's regional meet at Tonganoxie High School.
"I'm just super-excited," Eudora High School coach Dave Durkin said. "Two weeks ago, we didn't compete very well. The kids came back at regionals. They stepped up, and we had so many season-best performances."
The boys team finished sixth out of 15 schools with 34.5 points behind meet winner, Baldwin, 106, Lansing 81, Tonganoxie 64, Mill Valley 64 and Perry-Lecompton 48.
Seniors Josh Bowser and Zac Tyler, junior James Barr, and sophomore Mark Lister set a school record in the 400 relay with a time of 44.5 seconds, which was good enough for second place.
Senior Tyler Matthews, third place with 15.3 in the high hurdles, also broke a school record Friday. Matthews, who will attend the University of Wyoming in the fall, will make his first trip to the state track and field meet this weekend.
"I'm going to try to PR (personal record) again," Matthews said. "Going to state is nice but it's also nice to have my name on the wall too."
Sophomore Joey Donahue overcame what he thought was a season-ending knee fracture to qualify for the state meet in two events. Donahue scored a fourth place finish in the long jump, 20 feet, 2 1/4 inches, and guaranteed him his first trip to the state meet due to a new qualifying rule. Prior to the rule change, the top three automatically qualified for the state meet while fourth place competitors didn't find out until the other regional meets in their class were finished.
Donahue was able to recover from his injury because of rehabilitation work, light workouts and encouragement from the coaching staff.
"I went to the ER that night and they told me no more track," Donahue said. "It took a lot of hard work, faith in myself and confidence. I got a lot of support from my coaches."
Assistant coach Ron Abel said Donahue had the ability to perform well, but the coaching staff urged him to relax before the last few meets.
"We talked about how he would step up at league and regional," Abel said. "We told him he needed to relax and that good things would happen. The last couple of weeks have been a bit more fun for him."
The new "fourth-place rule" also benefited Donahue and his teammates, Tyler, Barr, and Bowser, whose 1600 relay team qualified for state with a 3 minute 34 seconds, fourth-place effort.
Tyler, who will be making his third trip to the state meet, qualified for a third event Friday. He placed third in the 400 meter, 52.7.
Junior Dustin Moyer and senior Nate Cleveland narrowly missed the chance to represent Eudora at the state track meet. Moyer was fifth in the javelin, 155-1, while Cleveland placed fifth in the pole vault, 11-6. Sophomore distance runner Tighe Van Anne, who qualified for the cross-country state meet last fall, finished sixth in the 3,200, 10:27.50 and the boys 3200 team missed the state meet by one spot with their fifth place finish.
The Eudora girls' placed seventh out of 13 teams with 34 points. Baldwin also won the girls meet with 120 points while Mill Valley 109, Perry-Lecompton 57, Tonganoxie 55, and Jefferson County West 52 rounded out the top five.
Sophomore Anna Fernandez, who broke her own school record in the pole vault at the Frontier League meet May 9 with an 8-6, matched her previous effort Friday.
Durkin said he thought Fernandez, who has rewritten the school record book for the girls pole vault this season, had the chance to go even higher. Fernandez, who also won the pole vault Friday, will make her first trip to the state track meet this weekend.
"We were expecting her in the top four but we didn't know what the competition was," Durkin said. "She started (the season) at seven feet and she should have had nine feet (at regional)."
Junior Jenny Durkin is used to qualifying for the high jump in the state track meet. However, Durkin, who will be competing in her third consecutive state meet,raised the bar for herself this time. She jumped 5-2 at the regional meet but fell to second behind Mill Valley's Mindy DeGroot, who also jumped 5-2, because of misses.
"I want, at least, to get into the top six," Durkin said. "I think I'm a lot stronger this year, and I've got my head into it more."
Sophomore sprinter Rachel Abel made progress throughout the season in the 100 and 200. Abel, who will be making her first appearance at the state meet, will compete in both events at state after placing third in both events, 13.00 in the 100 and 27.00 in the 200.
"Rachel's been right there," coach Durkin said. "In the prelims, she ran a 12.9. She had two PRs (personal records) in both her races."
Senior Brandi Abel came up just short of qualifying for state in the long jump with a sixth place effort, 15-4 3/4 while freshman Julie White finished fifth in the triple jump 32-3 1/2. The girls 400 relay team of Brandi and Rachel Abel and sophomores Tracine Bowling and Jodi Wingebach won their heat but placed sixth overall, 53.60.
The class 4A state track meet, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, will be the final one for coach Durkin, who has been with the Eudora track program for three decades. Durkin will replace Activities Director Larry McPherson in the fall.