High School Sports

South’s Kaden Griffin shakes off bad start with pair of track titles (VIDEO)

South's Kaden Griffin wins the 6A-300 meter intermediate hurdles at the Track and Field State Championships on Saturday at Cessna Stadium.
South's Kaden Griffin wins the 6A-300 meter intermediate hurdles at the Track and Field State Championships on Saturday at Cessna Stadium. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita South senior Kaden Griffin entered Friday’s competition with Class 6A’s best distances in the long jump and the triple jump — and then he finished fourth in both, with results well below his highs.

Deeply disappointed, Griffin went home and planted himself in front of the TV and happened upon his favorite movie — “Happy Gilmore” — and he immersed himself in the comedy.

But he knew what he wanted Saturday.

“I wanted some redemption,” Griffin said.

He got it, winning the 6A 400 meters in 49.82 seconds and winning the 300 hurdles in 38.67.

“I wanted the 400 really bad,” said Griffin, who has signed with Wichita State. “… I already had a lot of pressure going in. I added a lot more pressure today because I didn’t win (Friday).”

Griffin has had success through his career at South, but he continually struggled at the state meet.

“I always seem to do bad at state,” he said. “It feels like an ape was on my back the last four years, and I finally got a ‘W’ in something.”

The difficulties in the jumps elicited frustration in Griffin, while South coach Cody Dickman didn’t have to search for a valid reason.

“He wouldn’t use this as an excuse, but me being around him, I think the humidity got to him with his diabetes,” Dickman said. “It’s the first humid day we’ve had all year. It’s a little cooler today, and you can see what he did.

“Not once would he ever say (his diabetes) is an issue. He would say he didn’t jump well.”

Dickman was right.

Griffin simply said Friday wasn’t his day.

And as for being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in November, one week before his birthday, it hasn’t changed his life much.

“I just do things that other people don’t do,” he said. “I check my blood sugar, wear this pump I’ve got on right now. I drink some Gatorade so my blood sugar don’t drop.”

While he said he started the basketball season slowly, taking about a month to get to the level of where he expects himself to play, it wasn’t that way with track.

After he won the 300 hurdles about 35 minutes following the 400, he walked over to a meet official who had been holding his diabetes pump. Griffin hooked it back up to himself as he talked about his improved results.

“Man, that feels really good,” Griffin said. “Still, I wish I would have won the long and the triple. That would be four victories.

“Two’s good enough.”

Running such grueling events back-to-back is tough on even the healthiest athletes.

“ With Kaden, I let him come to me and say, ‘Coach, I want to do this,’ ” Dickman said. “He’s a pretty introverted individual. That’s his personality. Since it’s an individual sport, it plays into him being able to compete at a high level. He can zone in.”

Griffin could have had a difficult transition after his diabetes diagnosis, but Dickman figured that wouldn’t happen.

“The big thing there is, he’s got an outstanding family,” Dickman said. “His mom and dad never miss a compeititon. They’re always there in the stands, rooting him on. It’s a function of the people around him.

“He’s a pretty introverted guy. He keeps to himself, but the people who know him and love him, they really support him for who he is.”

Even after running a strong 400, Griffin wasn’t sure about the 300 hurdles.

“My legs were dead,” Griffin said after winning the hurdles. “I was surprised that I even had enough to kick at the end. I had a real good kick at the end, too. It’s my best race this year.

“It’s my last race of my whole high school career, so why not give it all I have?”

Reach Joanna Chadwick at 316-268-6270 or jchadwick@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachadwick.

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