BHS runners statebound again
There are two standards for Baldwin in late October the Maple Leaf Festival has seen thousands of people flock to town and the Baldwin High School cross country teams are headed to state.
BHS accomplished the feat in fine fashion Saturday, too, as both boys and girls teams won the Class 4A Regional in Ottawa. Yes, that was Maple Leaf Saturday.
"One of our goals for the season is to qualify for state, but it's really neat that they both won regionals," said coach Mike Spielman.
It marks the sixth straight Class 4A State appearance for the girls team and the fifth consecutive time the boys have qualified as a team. But the boys have another streak they're looking for their third straight team title. Yes, that's a "threepeat."
But with the success the cross country team has had over the years, making it to state just doesn't have the same thrill. The Bulldogs aren't satisfied to just make it.
"There's not the same excitement as there used to be," said Spielman. "We're kind of at the point where the kids expect to go and do well.
"We know we've got some business to take care of," he said.
Despite coming in as the two-time-defending-state champs, Baldwin High's boys aren't a shoe-in for that third title. Two teams offer stiff competition and BHS's only loss of the season came early in the season to Clay Center.
"Wamego and Clay Center are the big ones," Spielman said of the expected competition.
Junior Matt Noonan who easily won regionals will try to defend his individual state title, but he'll be facing strong competition in Clay Center's Joe Moore.
"Matt just edged him out at state track and Moore beat Matt at Wamego," he said. "I think those two have distanced themselves from the rest of the runners. The only other one who could be in the mix would be Spear from Wamego."
On the girls side, Spielman looks for the top three teams to be El Dorado, Clay Center and Baldwin High.
"It'll probably be in that order," he said. "El Dorado has everything and it's really their race to lose."
Senior Megan Noonan will be in the hunt for the individual title again, which she accomplished two years ago as a sophomore. She's already faced two of the other top runners in the state at regionals, where she finished second behind Burlington's Trish Culbertson.
"The three girls from our regional are probably the best in the state," said Spielman. "Culbertson, who won it last year, Megan and the little Morrisey girl from Ottawa. But there's another who may be in the hunt. Brittany Hill, a freshman from Hugoton, hasn't been beaten yet this year. We'll see about her."
The state championship course in Wamego, which has been used for years, covers 3.1 miles for the boys and 2 miles for the girls. The girls race starts at 9:30 a.m. and the boys follow at 11 a.m.