Circle's Alex Gardinier didn't get the reaction that a state champion javelin thrower typically receives after his throws last season.
The javelin flew farther than anyone else's, but the rest of the competitors would have to stifle guffaws after his throws.
"My run would be different every time," Gardinier said. "It'd be to slow, then too fast. Then I kind of muscled my throw. It just wasn't pretty."
Sometimes it doesn't have to be to win; Gardinier, quirky delivery and all, won the Class 4A title in the javelin last season with a throw of 190 feet, 4 inches as a sophomore. But he couldn't continue slinging his throws side-armed.
"I would have torn out my shoulder," Gardinier said. "I've been working on going over the top and not dropping down."
His attempt to repeat as champion, which begins today at the Andale regional, isn't enough. He wants to top 200 feet in one of his last two meets.
"As long as he keeps doing the right things with his technique, it's going to happen," Circle coach Rick Gibson said. "It's just a matter of time. Nobody knows when, but it's going to happen."
Gardinier's season-best throw stands at 188-6, set in early April.
"I'm pushing myself to do it," Gardinier said. "I feel a lot more confident. When people say stuff about my technique, I like it. They can keep laughing at me all they want, but I'll keep winning."
Small-class giants — The 16-team Andale regional might be the most competitive in the area. Andale coach Greg Smarsh counted 12 events that will be feature the state-leader in the class.
"We're going to have to have some great performances," Smarsh said. "Each event is loaded with some of the state's top athletes. Not just the region, but the state's top athletes."
Include some of the top team also, as the battle between Andale and Mulvane should provide a glimpse of the state team title.
"Mulvane has got a great program out there," Smarsh said. "Their distance runners are unparalleled. I don't think anybody can match up with that."
The Wildcats will do most of their damage on the track with Brandon Ward, A.J. May and Jesse Dobbs in the sprints and Wyatt James, Nikki Trooien-Smith, Evan Landes and Miles Hilgers in the distance races.
"But Andale has always had great vaulters and that's something we know they're going to score big in," Mulvane coach Dale Landes said. "They've always had sprinters too. They're just loaded."
Andale has three of the state's best pole vaulters in Andrew Rowland, Thomas Baalmann and Jonah Ungles.
Get on this level — The heavy competition won't bother Augusta senior discus thrower Shane Smith. He thrives on the pressure.
"When the meet's bigger, then he shows up for it," Augusta coach Steve Reichardt said. "He always rises to the occasion. That speaks well for him and his competitive nature and spirit."
Smith's season-best throw of 148-8 places him in the top 10 for Class 4A, but also competing for the four spots are Kingman's Breck Knoblauch, Rose Hill's Chris Paddock and Brady Foltz and Cheney's Taylor Goldsmith, who all rank higher on the list.
"If you qualify for state in this meet, you've really done something wonderful," Reichardt said.