Durkin leads Cards at state by leaps and bounds
The Eudora High School track and field team proved the worth of experience.
Only one Eudora athlete placed at the class 4A state meet in Wichita last Friday and Saturday.
Junior Jenny Durkin, who was making her third trip to state, finished third in the high jump with a 5-0 jump.
"It was a pretty good jump in very wet conditions after a storm went through," Eudora coach Dave Durkin said. "That's her best finish at state."
Sophomore Anna Fernandez once again tied the school record with an 8-6 effort in the pole vault but finished eighth. Sophomore Rachel Abel, who qualified for state in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, didn't make it past the preliminary round in her state track debut.
Durkin said the closest team to qualifying for the finals on the boys side was the 400-meter relay team, which finished ninth, one spot behind the last-place qualifier. The team of seniors Zac Tyler, Josh Bowser, junior James Barr, and sophomore Mark Lister missed a handoff on the last leg of the relay.
Durkin also said the 1600 relay team of Tyler, Bowser, Barr and sophomore Joey Donahue couldn't overcome a poor start to place in the event. Tyler, who qualified for state in the 400, failed to make it past the preliminaries while Donahue and senior Tyler Matthews, both first time competitors at state, couldn't match their regional performances in the long jump and the high hurdles, respectively.
Durkin said that he enjoyed coaching his 30th and final season at Eudora. Although he was pleased by the boys and girls victories at the first Wellsville meet early in the season, he said the team's progress at league and regional meets showed its true character.
"I think the highlight was the last two meets of the season," Durkin said. "The kids performed well, and at the end of the season they were competing at their best."
Durkin said any team member who medaled at the Frontier League meet May 9 at Osawatomie automatically became a member of the all-Frontier team.
A 1966 Eudora High School graduate, Durkin never envisioned a return to his hometown after graduating from Pittsburg State in 1972. He also served as the high school's cross country coach for 20 years, winning the 3A state championship in 1996 and placing second in 1994.
"I never expected to come back," Durkin said. "I got a phone call, they offered me a job, and I've been here ever since.
As he prepares to take over for retiring Activities Director Larry McPherson, Durkin realizes how much he'll miss his position as track and field coach. However, he'll still be involved with the various Eudora athletic programs as the new activities director.
"Being around the kids everyday I think I'll miss that," Durkin said. "I'll still be involved but I won't have that one-on-one (time)."