Throughout the spring, Jack Hood has been adamant in his stance that, as far as his Lawrence High track and field team is concerned, the outcome is more important than the journey.
Class 6A regional
When: 3:30 p.m. today
Where: Olathe District Activities Center
Teams competing: Lawrence High, Free State, Leavenworth, Olathe East, Olathe North, Olathe Northwest, Olathe South, Shawnee Mission Northwest
“I’ve know I’ve been telling you this since the start of the spring, but our season comes down to Friday night and the next week at state,” said Hood, whose Lions will join Free State in today’s regional meet at 3:30 p.m. in Olathe. “It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, it matters where you’ve ended up.”
And perhaps nowhere is this logic more applicable than in the case of Roy Wedge, the Lions’ senior distance standout.
Following a dominant cross country season in which he won the individual Class 6A state title and was named the state’s Gatorade boys runner of the year, Wedge’s spring has been hampered by a hamstring injury that has limited his availability at times — including during last week’s Sunflower League championships, when he was held out of the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs as a precautionary measure.
But entering what figures to be the final two meets of his high school career — today’s regional championships and next week’s Class 6A state meet in Wichita — he’s focused on ending on a high note.
“Coach always says he wants to qualify as many people in as many events as we can,” said Wedge, who’ll compete in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs today, but likely will bypass the 4x800-meter relay. “So I’m going to try to finish in the top four of the mile and two mile and try to move on.”
“He’s ready to go,” added Hood. “Last week, if it had been state, he would have run, and he would have shown up. If it had been state, we wouldn’t have pulled him out of anything.”
Even without Wedge, the Lions had a breakout performance of sorts during last week’s Sunflower League meet, turning in, by Hood’s estimation, 35 personal best times and distances in their final tune-up before the postseason.
The question now is whether they can build upon it today.
“We’re excited about regionals,” Hood said. “We had a great league meet, and we hope that carries over. If we can match that effort at all, we’re going to have a great meet Friday night.”
On the other side of town, Free State — whose boys and girls teams finished fourth and seventh, respectively, at the 12-team league meet — appear poised for a fruitful postseason, as well.
Drue Davis will begin her quest for a second straight pole vaulting state title, while Firebirds sprinter Keene Niemack and mid-distance/distance runner Kain Anderson likely will be battling for state berths in multiple events today.
“Our goal is simply to see if we can continue at the level we were at last week,” Firebirds coach Steve Heffernan said. “We had a lot of kids step up, and we’ll see if we can do it again.”