Wichita — In the end, Free State High senior Keron Toussaint sided with coach, recognizing the need the put his future health before the Firebirds' immediate success.
After taking an optimistic, almost defiant, stand Friday after re-injuring his hamstring during Day One of the KSHSAA state track and field championships - claiming he'd run if he could walk - Toussaint competed in just one event Saturday.
The fleet-footed senior anchored a fourth-place finish in the boys 4x400-meter relay, sacrificing his finals berths in both the 200 and 400 and the bountiful team points that could have come with them.
"My coach (Free State boss Steve Heffernan) talked to me about it last night, so I already knew I was done," said Toussaint moments after cheering on teammate Shaun James in the 400. "He told me that it's probably not smart for me to run because I might get hurt worse. He's my coach. He knows best.
"It is disappointing because it's my senior year. I guess it just wasn't meant to be."
It marks the second straight season a Free State star has succumbed to the injury bug in Wichita. Last spring a lower leg problem sidelined distance ace Alysha Valencia.
"It seems like Free State can never have a good state track meet," said Toussaint, who will run at Kansas University next season. "Every year something goes wrong."
¢ Tongie doubles its fun: Tonganoxie's Roxi Grizzle and Ali Pistora employed vastly different approaches to a 1-2 Chieftains sweep Saturday morning in the Class 4A girls javelin.
Grizzle completely demoralized the field when she launched gold-medal clinching throw of 151 feet, 9 inches on her first of six attempts. By the end of the competition, she had the four longest throws, and what would have been the fifth came up foul when it landed a few inches wide of the left boundary.
"When I was warming up I felt good," said Grizzle about what keyed her immediate long-distance effort. "All the nerves were gone. It was just an amazing feeling."
Meanwhile, Pistora consistently built up to her second-place toss of 141-3 on her fifth attempt, bettering each of her previous throws after opening at 119-7.
"I had the mental sense to try to go out (each throw) with the best and try to improve my best mark," said Pistora of the patient approach that led to her fourth state javelin medal in as many seasons.
Baldwin's Courtney Harris (sixth) and Santa Fe Trail's Katie Barezinsky (seventh) also climbed the medal stand following the event.
¢ Piling on the points: As expected, Baldwin junior Heather Garcia and Eudora junior Emily Ballock proved to be one-woman wrecking crews during Saturday's finals.
Garcia won the Class 4A 1,600 - giving her a sweep of the 1,600 and 3,200 for the second straight season - and also took second in the 800 and sixth in the 400. All told, she accounted for 30 of the Bulldogs' 35 team points.
Ballock cruised to her third Class 4A 300 hurdles gold in as many seasons, and also took fourth in the 100 hurdles, sixth in the 200, and helped the Cardinals' 4x400 relay to a third-place finish. All told, she had a hand in 22 of Eudora's 44 team points.
Other big point producers included Ottawa freshman Chantay Caron and Santa Fe Trail sophomore Jodi Mundy, who medaled in three events in the Class 5A and 4A meets, respectively.
¢ Reed sighting: Incoming Kansas University basketball recruit Tyrel Reed hadn't competed for the Burlington High track team since his freshman season. When he was approached by the coach to compete for the league meet to help the team collect points, Reed obliged.
Competing at the state meet, his third track meet since his freshman season, Reed became the 2A state champion Friday with a long jump of 22-05-1/4. On Saturday, he earned a silver medal in the 400 meters with a time of 50.36.
"I'm glad I did it," Reed said. "It was a lot of fun."
Any plans to branch out at KU?
"No," Reed said with a laugh. "I think I'll just play basketball there."