Bulldogs claim first state track title
There was plenty of history to be made in Wichita over the weekend as the Baldwin High School boys swept the field at the State Track and Field Championships to bag the first Bulldog team title.
BHS scored 64 points to easily outdistance Clay Center, which had 46 points. The team trophy was the biggest goal the Bulldogs had this year and attaining it was extra sweet.
"That means a lot," said junior Matt Noonan, who won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and finished second to teammate Eric Black in the 800-meter run. "When you think about how long that has been that there's been a state meet. To be the first to do it really means something."
Of course coach Mike Spielman was plenty proud of the title, but it meant even more because of the group of kids mostly juniors that had done it.
"They are a great group of kids," said Spielman. "You cheer for them because they're doing the right things. They're making the right choices."
BHS girls coach Ted Zuzzio, who has been a mainstay in Baldwin High track for decades, had a similar feeling.
"They're great kids on top of being great athletes," said Zuzzio. "That's what's even more special."
BHS finished third a year ago, which was the first team trophy in many years. But the Bulldogs went considerably further this year, grabbing the first track championship ever. They did it by finishing first or second in every event they scored in.
Besides Noonan's double gold and silver and Black's first in the 800, BHS went 1-2 in the javelin with Eric Brown throwing a state-best 215-10 and Hugh Murphy right behind with his personal-best 196-0. The 4x800-meter relay team of Black, Glen Stansberry, Hans Broers and Jonathan Strong also finished second with a 8:19.59 time.
There were school records, too. Noonan broke his own 1,600 mark with a time of 4:22.99. The 4x100-relay team also set a new school mark at 52.28, but didn't score. Other times were: Black, 800, 1:57:58; Noonan, 800, 1:58.46, and 3,200, 9:38.77. Noonan ended up relieved over his finishes.
"It was a big burden off my back," said Noonan of the two wins. "Last year I wasn't a marked man. I felt like I was being head hunted this year.
"I was real excited about how the day went," he said. "I ran two of the fastest and smartest races I've ever run."
He also played in on Black's 800 victory. The duo has traded off winning and runner-up roles in the race all year.
"Matt did some different things in the race that helped," said Spielman. "Matt knows Eric can out kick him. Matt's a good safety net for him in the race. Eric was kind of boxed in and Matt got him out. They feed off each other.
"After the race, Matt was yelling 'Eric, Eric, Eric,'" he said. "He had never been so happy to finish second."
There was the usual feeding frenzy in the javelin, too, where Brown and Murphy push each other.
"We finish one-two at almost every meet," said Brown, who managed to be happy despite not reaching one of his personal goals. "My goal this year was 220, so it had to come Friday, but I was happy with what I did."
Of course for Brown, there was the added bonus of his sister, Emily, also being a state champion with her first place in the high jump. That's something Noonan knows about after attaining that in both track and cross country with his sister, Megan.
"They are extra-likeable people," Noonan said of the Browns. "I couldn't be happier for them. Doing well with a teammate is one thing, but to do it with a sibling makes it extra special."
But it was just one of those special weekends. Bottom line was, there weren't any upsets. Stansberry scratched in the 3,200 to stay fresh for the 3,200-meter relay. That was the only tweak to the line up that was made and it paid off with the second-place finish.
"We didn't have any huge disappointments," said Spielman. "Everyone did their best."
And it came from everywhere long distance and short, and in the field events.
"We couldn't have asked for anything more," said Noonan. "I feel lucky to be on the team that had the whole package."