Fourth-place finishers at regionals enter the state track and field meet without much fanfare.
Unlike last year, Lawrence High senior javelin thrower Jake Skakal won't go unnoticed upon his arrival in Wichita this weekend.
"He's certainly not going to sneak up on anybody this year," said LHS head track coach Jerry Skakal, Jake's father.
Last year, Jake Skakal placed fourth in the javelin at regional and had to wait a couple of days to find out if he had qualified for state. Then at state, Skakal surprisingly claimed the gold medal in the javelin with a 178-feet, 3-inch toss.
Skakal's confidence soared and carried over into his senior season in which he has emerged as the state's top thrower.
Two weeks ago at Sunflower League, Skakal broke a 12-year-old school record with a 228-6 toss. His throws in the preliminaries were 218-1, 208-9 and 228-6.
Last week, Skakal won regional with a 206-2 mark.
"I told Jake, 'You have a great chance to be a state champion," coach Skakal said. "He said, 'Dad I'm not going to let anybody out-throw me at state. I'm going to be a state champion.' "
The coach admires his son's certainty.
"You've got to have that kind of confident attitude," coach Skakal said.
That confidence wasn't there a couple of years ago. Jake lettered at Topeka High as a freshman before transferring to Lawrence after his father left Topeka to become an assistant football coach and track coach.
Jake struggled in his transition year and was academically ineligible to compete in track his sophomore season. He commuted daily from Topeka that year.
"This school is a lot different," Jake said. "They work harder here. I'm glad I came here. I don't think I would have thrown as good there.
"After I won last year, I decided to work a lot harder. I was working hard last year but not as hard as I could have."
Darrell Andrew, coach of the LHS throwers, has noticed a difference.
"He's worked hard all year," Andrew said. "He's continuing to climb to the next level. His five-step approach is 10 times better than last year and I believe Jake's a lot stronger this year."
Jake will throw Saturday morning at 8:30. In preparation for the early event, he's been practicing in the morning and evening the past three days.
Jake plans to throw next year in junior college. He's leaning toward Johnson County Community College.
What will it take to repeat this weekend?
"I need to get over 200," Jake said. "I'm looking to throw my best. There's about the same pressure as last year. I still have to throw well."