Distance records drop again
PAOLA -- Three school records and two Frontier League records were set by two members of the Baldwin High School girls' track team here Thursday.
The Bulldogs finished third at the Frontier League meet with 89 points, close behind second-place Gardner (97). Eudora won the meet with 120 points.
"We had some improvement around the track and out in the field," coach Ted Zuzzio said. "Finishing third out of 13 schools is pretty good."
Zuzzio felt that the Bulldogs could have placed second if the three relays had ran better.
"Second place was very reachable," Zuzzio said. "If our relays step up to the plate, we are second. We dropped the baton in one race and we didn't run nearly as fast as we did the week before in the other two. We limited our opportunity for second."
Once again leading the team was sophomore Heather Garcia, who won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and finished third in the long jump.
Garcia jumped 15-9 Â½, less than three inches away from first place. Then she took to the track, with the 1,600 run first. This race pitted her against rival sophomore Cali George from Gardner.
George had beaten Garcia since seventh grade, which didn't settle well with Garcia. After the first lap, Garcia led the race that became a two-person competition.
"On our second lap, she started passing me and I just tucked in right behind her," Garcia said. "That's what I figured to do in the first place."
George led for most of the final two-and-a-half laps, but Garcia never fell behind more than a few feet.
"I raced her at the KU Relays and she pulled away from me," Garcia said. "From that, I knew I had to tuck in behind her, because that fourth lap hurt at KU."
Coming down the home stretch, the two girls were neck and neck, until Garcia kicked it in and won the race by less than one second, which erupted cheers from the Bulldog fans.
"I tried to wait until the last moment, because I knew it would be a stretch either way," Garcia said. "I tried avoiding having to kick so hard."
Garcia ran 5:03.65 with George right behind at 5:04.11. Garcia said she listened to coach Mike Spielman's advice for the race.
"Coach told me to just stay with her," Garcia said. "Last year I kicked way too early and she passed me. So, I tried to learn from my mistakes and not push until the last second. I knew that she would have the determination to beat me."
Garcia's time was a new personal, BHS and Frontier League record.
"It feels good to PR," Garcia said. "If anything, I wanted to do that."
After her enjoyable 1,600 run, Garcia came back later in the meet to win the 3,200 run. She ran 11:02.29, setting another personal, school and league record.
"Garcia was beyond wonderful," Zuzzio said. "It was windy, cold and she wanted to be league champion. She worked and got it. She was just wonderful."
The other school record came from junior Kim Lester in the pole vault. Lester cleared 9-6, breaking the old record of 9-0.
"It was really cool," Lester said. "We had a really nice tailwind, but sometimes it turned into a crosswind, which threw you off. All in all, it was a really good meet."
Lester shared the old record with Jamie Lawrenz, 2004 BHS graduate, and Kelli Harris, 2005 BHS graduate.
"Now I don't have to share the plaque any more," Lester said jokingly. "It felt really cool. I just need to work on inverting, turning and other stuff."
Lester placed second in the event because she missed 9-6 one more time than Wellsville's Carissa Hughes.
"Those were eight big points for us," Zuzzio said. "It was a new school record. She was incredibly close to clearing 10 feet to give her the outright title. She was one miss from being league champion."
The Bulldogs also medaled in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays. The 1,600 relay team of sophomore Courtney Harris, senior Amy Craig, junior Amanda Vander Tuig and senior Kelsey Heckathorne placed third in a time of 4:18.23.
The 3,200 relay also finished third with a time of 10:14.39. The team members were junior Kelsey Verhaeghe, freshman Corinna Papps, sophomore Madison Shoemaker and Craig.
Verhaeghe finished third in both the 1,600 and 3,200 runs.
Zuzzio thought his team performed great in some events and average in others.
"We had some outstanding performances and we had some medium performances," Zuzzio said. "It's the time of the year where you expect your kids to run faster, jump higher or throw further than they have all year. We had some great efforts. Hopefully at regionals, we will pick the pace back up."
The Bulldogs head to Tonganoxie Friday for the Class 4A regional meet. The field events begin at 3:30 p.m., preliminaries at 4:30 p.m. and finals at 6 p.m.
"It seems like we have been there the last three years, so we are familiar with the track," Zuzzio said. "There is going to be great competition with 16 schools. It should be a great day for competing. We hope to qualify a number of kids for state competition in Wichita."
Zuzzio said he has slightly changed his philosophy for this year's regional meet.
"We are changing our philosophy a little bit," Zuzzio said. "I have taken some kids out of some things and thinned them down a little bit, so that some of our relays will run faster. That way we will have a better shot at medaling at state in those events."