BHS girls run away with championship
WAMEGO -- It was back on the winning track for the Baldwin High School girls' cross country team as it won back its Class 4A State Championship Saturday here.
The Bulldogs were able to win the state title for the third time in the last four years. They finished second to Clay Center a year ago.
"It felt really awesome that my senior year I could help get back the state title for the girls," senior Amy Craig said. "It was just really awesome."
The Bulldogs medaled four runners on their way to claiming victory with 70 points. Second place, Wamego, was 30 points behind at 100. Third and fourth place went to El Dorado and Eudora with 104 and 106 points respectively.
Junior Kelsey Verhaeghe led the way for Baldwin with a fifth-place finish in a time of 12:21.20. Sophomore Madison Shoemaker was close behind in sixth at 12:21.62.
Freshman Corinna Papps, 13th, and sophomore Heather Garcia, 19th, rounded out the top 20 runners for Baldwin.
"Kelsey, Madison and Corinna were just unbelievable," Spielman said. "Kelsey has gotten better at state every year. Madison's foot was kind of sore but she did a great job of fighting through it. For Corinna to be a freshman and to be new to the whole experience just did an awesome job."
Garcia led the race for the first mile, but suffered asthma problems during the final mile. Spielman was proud of how Garcia battled through the last half-mile to finish strong.
"She didn't feel as bad as she did at league, and she was able to finish a little bit better," Spielman said. "It was kind of a tribute to her that her legs are basically cramped up for the last half mile and she still finishes in the top 20 at state. There are a lot of kids that would like to be able to do that."
The other Bulldog runners were freshman Calleigh Durr, 53rd, junior Amanda Vander Tuig, 57th, and Craig, 63rd.
"Those front four ran really well, but you still have to get a good fifth runner in there," Spielman said. "Any of those three girls could have won it for us."
Spielman also said the team ran well in two packs.
"We had two big packs, but our front pack of four really ran well," Spielman said. "Heather struggled to finish but anytime you get that many up there, it's a good deal."
Craig was really proud of how the two freshmen ran Saturday.
"They stepped up really well this year," Craig said. "It reminded me of my freshman year, because I also went to state my freshman year. It was fun that they could step up and help us win."
Craig's freshman year was the first year for the girls' team to collect a state title. Craig has been a part of the state team each year, which is something special for her to look back on.
"It really means a lot that I could contribute to the state teams all four years," Craig said.
Craig, along with state alternate Jessica Hill, were the seniors on a team that looks to return its top six runners next fall. Craig said next year will be different.
"I will miss cross country next year, especially because I have been doing it all four years," Craig said. "It's just going to be different next year without the team bonding."
5. Kelsey Verhaeghe, 12:21
6. Madison Shoemaker, 12:21
13. Corinna Papps, 12:30
19. Heather Garcia, 12:57
53. Calleigh Durr, 13:37
57. Amanda Vander Tuig, 13:43
63. Amy Craig, 13:54