Before her junior year at Augusta, a doctor told Abbee Rhodes not to throw the shot put. At risk was potentially having to have hand surgery.
"It devastated me," said Rhodes, who finished third in Class 4A last year in the event at state. "I was in tears afterward. But I decided I wasn't going to quit. If I have to have a surgery, then so be it. But I don't want to quit."
Rhodes felt the pay-off on Friday at the Kansas state track and field meet at Cessna Stadium, as she came through with a personal-record throw of 42 feet, 6.75 inches to win the Class 4A championship. The mark is the second-best in Kansas this season.
The doctor was concerned that the shot put would aggravate her previous hand injury, but Rhodes altered her release point and believes she was able to keep her long-term health in mind during her title pursuit.
"She's one of the most driven athletes I've ever coached," Augusta throws coach Steve Pazzie said. "She's diligent when it comes to the weight room and to practice. She doesn't skip reps. She's everything you would want in an athlete and in a child of your own. She's the whole package."
Rhodes said she's never viewed lifting weights as hard work.
"I enjoy working out and I enjoy having to work hard," Rhodes said. "You have to do some of those little things to get the big thing. It was a lot of hard work, but it was 100 percent worth it in the end."
Rhodes entered the meet with the top mark in the field and established herself with her second throw of the day, a 41-7.5 mark that gave Rhodes a 2-foot advantage over the competition. The personal-record throw came on her second throw in the finals, a launch of 42-6.75 to finally clear the 42-foot barrier for the first time.
After three years, Rhodes has qualified for state in the shot put all three years and earned a medal all three years. She picked up the discus this season and added it to her repertoire, as Rhodes finished fourth in 4A with a personal-record throw of 122-11.
"I'm really excited," Rhodes said. "I've been working hard for this ever since I was a freshman. This was just the culmination of everything."
Mosley in the record book again
Last year Christal Mosley ran her state-meet record time in the 200 meters during the preliminaries.
This year the Southeast senior etched her name in the record book again during the preliminaries, as Mosley set the meet record in the 400 with her qualifying time of 54.26 seconds. The time moved Mosley up to No. 4 all-time in Kansas history.
"I'm pretty ecstatic about it," Mosley said. "Me and my dad had an agreement that we should try to do it (Friday). I wasn't sure how I would feel, but I felt great today. So why not go for it?"
Mosley, who won the gold medal last year in the 200 and 400, said she was locked in for the entire 400 to achieve the personal-best time. Her time was nearly 4 seconds faster than the next-fastest qualifying time in 6A.
"All of it (was key)," Mosley said. "When I hit the 200-meter mark, it was just go. There was no striding. No holding it. It was just all out from there."
Mosley nearly broke her own record in the 200 later in the day, as she ran the fastest qualifying time in 6A in 24.34 — just off her record of 24.31. She was more than a full second faster than the second-fastest time in 6A qualifying.
"It's really indescribable," Mosley said. "I still can't believe (the two records)."
Schurle finds self-confidence, then title
Valley Center throws coach Terry Orr spent the better part of this season trying to convince junior Libby Schurle she was good enough to be a state champion.
Schurle was skeptical and that came through in a slow start through April. But as she steadily progressed in May, Schurle started building confidence, and it peaked on Friday at the state meet.
On her first throw of the day, Schurle extended her personal-record by more than 11 feet to win the 5A javelin title with a throw of 137 feet, 6 inches.
"I just had to keep building her up and letting her know she is capable," Orr said. "I kept stressing to her, 'Don't be afraid to be good.'"
Schurle heard from former Valley Center standout throwers like Meagan Williams, Taylor Latimer, and Emily Klusener. They all saw the potential in Schurle, even when she didn't.
After awhile, Schurle had no choice but to start believing because of their support.
"It's just so awesome because now they can finally see what they helped me do," Schurle said. "Now I can show them that I've got it in me."
Schurle's winning throw came on her first of the day, which she said was not typical for her. But after planting a 137-6 throw, Schurle wasn't challenged as runner-up Briana Lowe of Blue Valley Southwest finished at 130-2.
"I just had this adrenaline rush, and my hands were shaking," Schurle said. "I was ready to go. Usually my first throw isn't that good, but this one really went out there. I could tell it was a pretty good one."
Bounceback season for Linn
Bishop Carroll's Taylor Linn is very clear how she feels about her performance at last year's state meet, where she finished in a tie for 13th place and failed to clear 9 feet in the pole vault.
"It was embarrassing," Linn said. "I just wanted to make up for everything I did last year."
Linn successfully used the disappointment as motivation, which culminated on Friday when she cleared 10 feet, 6 inches on her first attempt and won the 5A pole vault title on a tiebreaker over Eisenhower's Ryleigh Jackson.
"It's just such a relief," Linn said. "All of the hard work I put into it and now I finally won."
Jackson made things interesting by clearing 10-6 on her final attempt for a jump-off at 11 with Linn. But when neither could set a personal-best mark at 11-0, Linn won the title because she had made the previous five marks on her first attempt.
"I knew that if I was going to win I'd have to either get 11 or make every single jump on my first attempt," Linn said. "So every time I went, that was going through my head every time. I just really focused on making it on the first try."
A Wondra-ful surprise
Kapaun Mount Carmel junior Emma Wondra was not among the girls in the Class 5A high jump field that had cleared 5-4 this season.
But Wondra achieved her personal-best at state and was the only one to clear 5-4 to win the 5A high jump title. Wondra entered as a two-time state medalist in the event, but had never finished higher than fourth at state.
"I really didn't know how I was going to do today," Wondra said. "I was trying to get first, but then it just happened. It's amazing. It took so much hard work and dedication and it finally paid off."
Hesston senior Kylie Klassen set a personal-best in the pole vault to win the 3A title by clearing 10-9 ... Burrton senior Samantha Simoneau won the 1A discus title with a throw of 122-6 ... After winning the 800 and 1600 meter titles last year, Pittsburg’s McKenzie Wilks is going for the trifecta for her senior year. Step one has been completed as Wilks won the Class 5A 3200 in 10 minutes, 50.19 seconds, a personal-best time that is the 21st-fastest time in Kansas history … The best 3200 runner in Kansas history added one final state title on Friday, as SM Northwest’s Molly Born won the Class 6A 3,200 meters in 10:28.80. After missing last year’s state meet due to injury, Born added her fifth state title in her career with the 3,200 title. She holds the 6A meet record in the 1,600 and 3,200 … Valley Heights senior Skyler Saunders won her third straight state title, as she cleared 5-4 to take home the gold in the 2A high jump. Bluestem sophomore Destiny Masters also cleared 5-4, but finished second due to a tiebreaker of total missed jumps…Centralia junior Madison Lueger won her second straight title in the 1A javelin, this time breaking the meet record with her throw of 144-2…Sedgwick sophomore Grace Thompson came through with a huge PR throw of 128-8 in the discus to place third in 3A…Kinsley junior Rylee Gleason set the 2A meet record in the 300 hurdles with her prelims time of 44.75…Newton junior Maggie Remsberg finished runner-up in the 5A long jump with a mark of 17-4, as she was edged out by Pittsburg’s Faith Turner by less than an inch (17-4.75) … Andale junior Madison Lies took third in the 4A triple jump with a mark of 36-3, her highest finish in three state meet appearances … Goddard sophomore Kade Hackerott extended her personal-best to 39-7.25 in the shot put, which was good for a silver medal in 5A … Trinity senior Megan Elliott, who won the state title last year, took second in the 4A high jump after a jump-off with Spring Hill’s Madeline Rivers. Each cleared 5-4 with the same amount of misses, forcing a sudden-death jump-off. After each missed at 5-6 and 5-5, Rivers cleared her first attempt at 5-4 to win … Andale junior Jacy Anderson threw 124-11 on her final attempt in the discus to move up to a second-place medal in 4A, while Ark City senior Hallie Brown took third in 123-0 … Andale senior Katy Commons took second in the 4A shot put with a throw of 39-5, locking up her third straight state medal and her best state finish … The following have the fastest qualifying time in their respective event heading into Saturday’s finals: the Newton 400 relay team in 5A (47.88), McPherson sophomore Emma Ruddle in 4A 100 hurdles (14.39), Andale senior Abby Smarsh in the 4A 300 hurdles (45.77), Carroll senior Kindel Nordhus in the 5A 300 hurdles (45.14), Newton junior Maggie Remsberg in the 5A 100 hurdles (14.89), Wellington senior Taylor McGlothin in the 4A 100 (58.79), the Andale 1,600 relay team in 4A (4:05.28), Cheney junior Layne Needham in 3A 100 hurdles (15.18) and 3A 300 hurdles (46.24), Remington senior Hope Thiel in 3A 400 (57.80), Moundridge junior Jamya O’Quinn in the 2A 200 (25.79), the Moundridge 400 relay team in 2A (49.63), and Norwich sophomore Tori Poe in 1A 200 (25.97).