First-time state medalists enjoy successful weekend
Wichita While the 1,600-meter relay team may have received most of the attention for helping the Baldwin High School boys’ track team win a state title, the Bulldogs’ other events were just as integral.
Needing a third-place finish or better to tie Louisburg for the state champion, the BHS boys 1,600 relay team finished third in the final race of the day. The Bulldogs shared the title with the Wildcats.
However, every point before that race was needed to make that tie possible. The Bulldogs medaled in seven other events, none of which were a first- or second-place finish.
Leading the way on the first day were throwers, senior Jesse Austin and sophomore Dayton Valentine. They competed in discus first. Valentine moved up the rankings with his throws and finished fourth. He threw 144 feet, 7 inches.
“I was really pumped to get fourth,” Valentine said. “Coach Spielman had me projected around sixth or seventh if I threw around my PR. I was shooting for there, but I ended up getting fourth, which was exciting.
“No one was throwing great,” he said. “The top three were really good and then there was everyone else. I managed to get first out of everyone else.”
Austin competed in the discus, but had two throws that were much shorter than his normal distance. His third throw went out of bounds and he was unable to make finals.
Later in the evening, Austin came back and redeemed himself in his own eyes in the shot put. He threw a personal-best toss of 51-9.75 to place third in the shot put.
“It feels awesome,” Austin said. “I was completely disappointed with discus. I was very angry, so to come over and make up in shot put is awesome. I came here hoping to get a medal and that’s what I did, but third is even sweeter.”
Saturday began with senior Carson Barnes in the long jump. He set a mark of 21-6.75, which was good enough for third place.
“He qualified for state last year in the long jump, but didn’t jump very well,” coach Mike Spielman said. “This year, being able to get third was a big deal.”
Then the Bulldogs took to the track. Juniors Asher Hannon and Brian Wright each medaled in to individual events. Neither had earned an individual medal at state before last weekend.
Hannon narrowly made the finals of the 100-meter dash. He improved on his eighth-place prelim time and finished seventh in the finals to earn one point for the Bulldogs.
Later in the day, Hannon came back and ran in the 400-meter dash. He placed fourth in the 400.
“Asher ran seven races in two days,” Spielman said. “That’s a lot, especially in the sprints. He did a great job of handling it, getting in there and scoring us points.
“We had a lot of kids win their first individual medals,” he said. “Every kid that won an individual medal won their first this year. The only one who had any experience with an individual medal was Tony and he was hurt.”
Wright began his day with a personal-best time in the 1,600-meter run. He ran 4:25.32 and finished third in the race.
“The mile was pretty awesome,” Wright said. “I had a feeling it would come down to us three at the end. I tried to sprint, but they are two really good guys, so I’ll take third any day.”
Wright’s second medal came in the 800-meter run. He had hopes of winning the race, but settled for fourth in a close race. He ran 2:00.30, just ahead of five guys, who ran within 0.40 seconds of his time.
“He spent the whole winter running,” Spielman said. “He was able to get some good training in this winter. He got a lot stronger and that was a big help.”
The Bulldogs’ final medal was Barnes in the 300-meter hurdles. His first medal in the race came as a third-place medal. He ran 40.46 in the race.
“It was great to get three medals at state,” Barnes said. “I felt like I was cursed. I was in lane six three times and I got third three times.”