Wichita Appearing in his first and only Kansas Class 6A state track and field meet, Lawrence High senior Quintin Rucker knew that he would be competing in the shot put for the final time as a member of the LHS track and field squad.
With that in mind, Rucker stepped into the circle Friday for his final throw on the biggest stage and rose to the occasion with a third-place throw of 49-06.50 at Cessna Stadium on Wichita State's campus.
"All week, it's been 'This is your last throw you're ever going to get at Lawrence High,'" Rucker said. "So on that last one I said it was do or die, 'you get out there and throw and represent your school as much as you can. Or go home.'"
Rucker was the last thrower to qualify for the eight-man finals and actually clinched third-place on his second throw in the finals with a distance of 49-01.75.
"Nerves got to me a little bit, but I did the best I could," Rucker said. "At one point, I was down to the eighth seed and I guess I just sucked it up and tried to get the best I could."
But what else should be expected of a senior knowing that he had the opportunity to leave Lawrence with a lasting impression?
"I could have been fifth, sixth, seventh or not even placed - and here I got third," Rucker said. "So I'm happy about that. To be one of the top throwers in Class 6A in the entire state, that feels pretty good."
Rucker's teammate, junior Chebon Dawes, who made his first appearance at state and finished 12th in the shot put with a toss of 45-09.75, faced a similar situation in the discus.
Dawes was looking at a fifth-place finish in the discus going into his last attempt. But just like his teammate, Dawes saved his best for last and catapulted himself into a second-place finish with a throw of 154-08.
"It started off a little harsh," Dawes said. "A little nervousness got to me with this being my first time being here. My first two throws were a little for jitters. But after I realized that I'm actually here and needed to step it up a notch to make it to the stand and on my last throw, that's where it all came out of me."
Free State's Colter Scott got to join Rucker on the podium for the introduction of the top-seven finishers in the shot put. The Firebirds junior tossed a 48-09.75 on his first throw of the event, which earned him a seventh-place finish.
FSHS had just one other top-seven finish behind the legs of junior Kyra Kilwien in the 3,200 meter run. Kilwien crossed the finish line in sixth-place with a time of 11:44.86.
Free State still has a few chances to crack the top-three in today's events. Firebirds senior Tim Malcolm, who is seeded third in the pole vault, looks to be the Firebirds' best chance at a top-three finish in the field events. Kilwien is the only city rep in the 1,600 meter run today and is seeded No. 3.
Meanwhile, LHS' 1,600 meter relay team of Jennifer Taylor, Shelby Clark, Emily Davidson and Kristina Taylor qualified third for today's finals with a time of 4:02.10.
The Taylor Twins also qualified for today's final of the 400 meter dash. Kristina had the second fastest time at 57.67, but having finished second in her heat she is positioned as the No. 3 seed. Jennifer qualified sixth with a time of 59.66.
They are also seeded No.'s 5-6 in the 800 meter finals, with Jennifer's time of 2:22.15 qualifying her just ahead of Kristina, who has a seeding time of 2:23.49.
Lions senior Andrew Miller finished seventh in the boys javelin at 171-11, while teammate Chris Smith fell short of the finals with his 11th-place finish of 161-02.