Olathe North alum Dana Baker is all about breaking boundaries. On Wednesday, she busted through another.
After sitting on a long plane ride to Finland with her parents for the IAAF World U20 Championships, she threw 55.04 meters in the javelin. She walked away with a bronze medal, the first World U20 medal of any kind for a javelin thrower from the United States — male or female. Alina Shukh of Ukraine took gold with a distance of 55.95 meters, and Tomoka Kuwazoe of Japan earned silver at 55.66.
“It’s truly an indescribable feeling,” Baker said. “I’m confident that more Americans will medal and I’m ecstatic that I get to say I was the first. It’s crazy to think about.”
After her success, Baker is officially part of the United States' U20 world championship team.
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Baker, who heads to Duke University on a track and field scholarship this fall, already had some hardware in her trophy case. She is a three-time state Class 6A champion in javelin and won the American JavFest with a throw of 55.11 meters.
Levi Huseman, her coach at Olathe North, is proud of Baker and what she has done in Finland. Even though she has left the high school behind, she still paves a path for those who come after her.
“I think just in terms of program-wide that whenever someone does succeed like what she has done, it lets others know it is possible,” Huseman said. “Just seeing someone doing the right things, she has a quiet confidence … She portrays a good image for many athletes.”
Huseman, who has been able to watch Baker for the past four years, says her “steady progression” is part of what makes her a “great person.”
After she arrives back in Kansas City, Baker will begin preparing for the move to North Carolina. She said she has trained hard for everything she has earned.
“I’m very competitive and I want to see results so I push myself to be the best I can be,” Baker said. “I’ve put in a lot of work with training and working out behind the scenes, and for a while it was in combination with volleyball. So, it was very difficult at times ... but is definitely worth it.”