Ballock looks to shave final fractions in record quest
A track athlete really stands out as special when setting a school record becomes a ho-hum affair.
Emily Ballock did just that Friday at the regional track meet hosted at Santa Fe Trail High School. She -- yawn! -- set a school record at 43.4 seconds in the 300 hurdles for probably the 56th time this season. She seemingly sets that school record once a week when the team competes, and she probably does it 15 more times during the week at practices.
You had dinner yesterday? Ballock pushed the record further.
Woke up this morning? Well, she'll practice this afternoon.
So what really gets Eudora's hurdling phenom salivating these days? State meet records, and there is a doozy waiting for her on the horizon.
The Class 4A state track meet record for the 300 hurdles is 42.5 seconds, set by Shawnee Call of Ellsworth in 1983.
"That's a big second," Eudora coach Phil Katzenmeier said of the gap currently separating Ballock and Call. "(Call), she was just phenomenal. That girl only went out for track two years -- she didn't go out her junior or senior seasons. She was just phenomenal and that's one of the top times in the nation ever."
The mystique surrounding Call's gaudy time reaches beyond the hurdles, however. It came on what was one of the best individual state meets in Kansas high school history.
Call won and set state meet records in the 300 and 100 hurdles in 1982, then won and set records in those events again in 1983, in addition to adding state meet records and gold medals from the 100 and 200 dashes.
Four events in 83, four records.
Call eventually went on to earn all America honors while playing volleyball at Kansas State, but the mark she left on the high school ranks has yet to fade.
She won the hurdles events in back-to-back years, and actually took the first-ever girls 300 hurdles title, the race replacing the 200 hurdles which was run up to that point.
Both of her hurdles records still stand, and neither has been seriously challenged.
The 42.5-second 300 record was set in the preliminaries, and no one -- not even Call herself -- came very close to topping it. Call ran 43.4 the next day in the finals. Of the 23 times the race has been run at state since 1983, only twice has someone even come within 1.5 seconds, both of those races coming from Basehor-Linwood's Dawn Steele in the early 1990s.
Steele won the event three times in her four years, a mark Ballock hopes to match Saturday, and her best time was 43.32, set her senior season. It's the only Class 4A winning time outside Call's that tops Ballock's personal best.
Now it's about squeezing every last fraction of a second, said Ballock, whose time at the regional meet was 43.4. It's a gap of less than a second -- 42.5 to 43.4 -- and while she said it's a big second, there's still room to maneuver over the race's 300 meters.
"From last year to this year, I've only cut .8 seconds of my personal record, so it's still pretty far away," Ballock said. "Still, it's a goal of mine to get it in the near future.
"I'd have to have pretty much a perfect race to get it, but I want to try if not this year, next year."