In her mind, Olathe North's Dana Baker is still a volleyball player.
That mindset might have to change after her senior season throwing the javelin and earning a scholarship to the Duke track and field team.
Baker broke the Kansas all-time record in the javelin (175 feet, 6 inches) earlier this season to become the No. 1 high school girl in the event in the country. Then on Friday, at the Kansas state track and field meet, Baker won her third straight Kansas Class 6A title and broke the meet record with a throw of 168-8 at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
"I think I'm finally starting to adjust and consider myself a javelin thrower," Baker said. "But I still feel like a newbie. There's still so much for me to learn."
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It was mixed emotions for Baker on Friday. Yes, she broke the 6A record and won another title, but she also wanted to extend her personal-best throw and came up 6 feet short.
"I was still pretty happy because I had a lot of supporters and people that I love around me," Baker said. "It was great to beat the meet record and win, but then again it wasn't where I wanted to be necessarily."
That type of competitiveness is nothing new to Doug Baker, her father.
"That's jut how she's always been," Doug Baker said. "She has always competed against herself. She doesn't really show a lot of emotion when she's throwing, but she always wants to do her best."
But considering Baker did not start throwing the javelin until she was a freshman in high school, she said she was blown away by how much she has taken off in the sport.
For perspective, Baker's mark of 175-6 as a high school senior is just short of the automatic qualifying mark for the Olympic Trials, which is 177-2.
"I always thought I was going to play volleyball (in college)," Baker said. "This is definitely surreal. It's crazy how much things change and where I'm at right now. It still really hasn't hit me yet.
"This was all that I wanted in a senior year. I'm happy with where I'm at, but I'm not satisfied. I want to keep going."
Born for a fifth time
After missing last year’s state track meet due to injury, SM Northwest’s Molly Born returned to form on Friday with another title-winning performance. Born won her third 6A girls title in the 3,200, this time in 10 minutes, 28.80 seconds. Born, who will go for her third title in the 1,600 on Saturday, owns the 6A meet record in both races.
Stindt goes up in history
SM East senior Jessie Stindt came through with her personal-record mark on her final attempt of her career, landing a 39 feet, 11.25 inches triple jump to win the 6A girls title. The competition featured the top three triple jumpers in Kansas, as Stindt defeated the other two to win her third straight state title in the event. Stindt’s mark also moves her up to No. 8 all-time in Kansas history.
Swanagan started from the bottom
Leavenworth’s Markita Swanagan went from off the podium to standing on top of it in one year, as she won the 5A girls shot put title with a personal-best throw of 40 feet, 8 inches. She topped off her day with another state title in the 5A discus, as her mark of 130-5 was good enough to win the competition by more than 5 feet. Swanagan finished 10th at last year’s state meet in the shot put and did not qualify in the discus.
Kelly-Salo adds state title to resume
SM Northwest’s Abigail Kelly-Sato etched her name in the Kansas record books this year, clearing a personal-best 12 feet, 2 inches in the pole vault to move into the top-10 marks in the state all-time. Kelly-Salo collected her first state title on Friday, as the senior was the only one to clear 12 feet to win the 6A girls pole vault title. Kelly-Salo also cleared 12-0 last year at state, but finished second in a tiebreaker.
Other state champions
SM West senior Jack Durst won the 6A boys high jump title with a mark of 6 feet, 8 inches ... SM South sophomore Samuel Macklin won the 6A title in the boys long jump by more than a foot with a leap of 22-9.25 ... Spring Hill sophomore Madeline Rivers won the 4A girls high jump title with a mark of 5-4, beating out three others on a tiebreaker for fewer misses … SM Northwest senior Travis Morrison won the 6A boys shot put with a mark of 54-4.5 after finishing runner-up last year at state … Sumner junior Nahshon Houston was the only competitor to clear 22 feet, as he won the 5A boys long jump with a mark of 22-1.5 ... BV North senior Nick Orr entered with the fifth-best throw in the 6A boys discus but won the title with a personal-best throw of 166-1.
Top performers going into Saturday
The following have the top qualifying times going into Saturday’s girls finals: Leavenworth senior Aarika Lister in the 5A 200 meters (24.43 seconds), St. James sophomore Katherine Moore in the 5A 400 (57.44), Spring Hill freshman Isabel Williams in the 4A 200 (26.02), the St. James 1,600 relay team of Hannah Robinson, Jill Jones, Mary Goetz, and Emma Gossman in 5A (4 minutes, 1.68 seconds), the Lawrence 400 relay team of Ashley Wildeman, Amaya Harris, Isabella Kirkwood, and Asjah Harris in 6A (48.04), and the Olathe South 1,600 relay team of Hailey Pittman, Danielle Winslow, Sophie Reed, and Isabella Pierce in 6A (4:01.34).
The following have the top qualifying times going into Saturday’s boys finals: Olathe South senior Emmanuel Okwuone in the 6A 300 hurdles (38.93), the Schlagle 400 relay team of Larmon Witt, Brian Parker, Gavin Williams, and Brayden Soza in 5A (42.52).