Garcia, relays pace BHS girls at first meet
WELLSVILLE -- Despite a third-place finish to De Soto by one point, Baldwin High School girls' track coach Ted Zuzzio was happy with his team's performance at the Baldwin Invitational here Friday.
The Bulldogs opened their season with their annual home meet, which was held in Wellsville this year because of construction at Liston Stadium. Eudora won the meet with 114 points, while De Soto (81) took second and Baldwin (80) placed third.
"We did better than we expected for the first meet, considering we don't have a track to work on," junior Kim Lester said. "But we have high hopes for the season."
Zuzzio was very pleased with the results from the first meet.
"It was a pretty outstanding start, honestly," Zuzzio said. "They shocked me with how well they ran and competed. Everybody competed and that is all you can ask. And actually, we competed at a pretty high level."
The Bulldogs started the races off with a dominant win in the 3,200-meter relay. Baldwin beat second-place Eudora by nine seconds.
"The 4x800 ran great and set the stage for the running events and finals," Zuzzio said. "The mile relay finished it with an outstanding performance."
Then sophomore Heather Garcia took off where she left last season as she led the Bulldogs with victories in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Garcia set new meet records in both races. She ran 5:21.61 in the 1,600 and 11:51.26 in the 3,200.
Zuzzio said there were many great performances, but Garcia led the team again.
"I guess you've got to start with Heather Garcia winning two races," Zuzzio said. "Our 4x800 relay ran an outstanding time and there were a couple personal best half miles in that performance. Our mile relay ran outstanding."
The 1,600-meter relay finished second to Eudora in a time of 4:22.37. Junior Amanda Vander Tuig placed runner-up in the high jump with a mark of 5-0. Another second place came from junior Kelsey Verhaeghe in the 3,200 run, as she ran 12:11.05.
Other top Bulldog performances came from senior Kelsey Heckathorne, junior Kim Lester and sophomore Courtney Harris.
Heckathorne placed third in the 400-meter dash in 1:02.96. Lester cleared 8-0 in the pole vault for fourth place. Harris threw the javelin 106-6, good enough for fourth.
"I was very happy with our performance," Zuzzio said. "We had some personal best throws and times. We had some outstanding performances all over the track."
Sophomore Bridget Arthur was happy with how the team performed Friday.
"We did real good to start the year," Arthur said. "Our runners are strong this year, but we have a lot of good athletes in a lot of events. It should be a great season."
Zuzzio was a little upset at the third-place finish, but it had nothing to do with his team.
"What was disappointing in that, is we knew going into the mile relay that we would have to get at least third to tie for second," Zuzzio said. "We ran better than that and we got second. They (De Soto) were 17 seconds slower than us and got fifth. They got second in the slow heat.
"They (De Soto) got two points and beat us by one. That was probably the only bad pill to swallow the whole night. Our kids ran well, but I was disappointed in the other teams' performances."
Senior Ellie Meinen was pleased with the meet, but hopes the team improves as the season progresses.
"The team did pretty well, and I am excited to see how we improve throughout the season," Meinen said. "We are good in the distance and relay runners. They score a lot of points for us."
Baldwin's next meet is the KT Woodman Invitational on April 14 in Wichita.
"We are getting in finer shape right now with the extra time to practice," Zuzzio said. "Hopefully, we can fix our handoffs in the sprint relays in the next week."