Frontier League sweep
LAWRENCE -- Not only was it a Bulldog team sweep, it was also a Bulldog individual sweep.
The Baldwin High School cross country teams brought home lots of hardware from Thursday's Frontier League meet at Rim Rock. The Bulldogs won both boys' and girls' team titles, while senior Chris Elniff and junior Heather Garcia won the boys' and girls' races, respectively.
"I thought we did a great job," coach Mike Spielman said. "It's getting to the end of the year and the championship season. It's nice to see the kids rise to that occasion."
The BHS boys won with 52 points. They beat De Soto, which scored 66 in second place. It was the 11th straight league title for the Bulldogs.
"We did awesome," sophomore Blake Randels said. "We kept our league championship streak alive"
For the BHS girls, it was their 10th consecutive league championship, as they held off De Soto by two points. Baldwin won with 37 points, while De Soto scored 39.
"It was nice, because it was our tenth in a row," senior Kelsey Verhaeghe said. "There was some pressure to win it again. We knew that it would be close. It was nice to keep it alive."
Garcia said the team title was very important to her, but she knows De Soto will be a tough opponent.
"That's what we always want," Garcia said of the team championship. "Now we have 10 in a row. It was a little scary that they (De Soto) were only two points away."
The BHS girls had some motivation last week, because De Soto beat BHS at the Rim Rock Invitational two weeks prior.
"The girls did a nice job," Spielman said. "It was probably a nice little wake up call when De Soto beat us. We got a chance to see where we needed to do some things. We had several of them step up and know who they needed to beat."
Spielman also said both teams were watching out for De Soto runners, because that will be their closest competition throughout the remainder of the season.
"We knew going in that De Soto was the team to beat," Spielman said. "We were both ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in state. Both teams had beaten each other earlier in the year. We were looking for green jerseys."
Although De Soto was the main competition for the BHS teams, it was two Eudora individuals that scared Garcia and Elniff.
Elniff and Eudora senior Joey Chino ran neck and neck for much of the race, but Elniff pulled ahead late to win in a time of 16:40. Chino was close behind at 16:48.
Garcia knew that the race would come down to her and Eudora senior Brittney Graff. Garcia also waited until very late in the race to pull away from her Cardinal competitor.
"I knew who my competition was, so my strategy was to stay with the top pack," Garcia said. "After the last hill, I pushed myself and started kicking it in."
Garcia won the 4-kilometer race in a time of 14:42, which was 13 seconds ahead of Graff, 14:55.
Spielman said the two Bulldogs ran almost identical races at the meet.
"They ran exactly the same race," Spielman said. "They both waited until they got to the top of Billy Mills to make their move. It was what they had planned on."
Five other BHS girls were all-league runners, which means they finished in the top 15. They were senior Kelsey Verhaeghe (fifth), sophomore Corinna Papps (eighth), sophomore Calleigh Durr (11th), junior Madison Shoemaker (12th) and freshman Julie Hill (13th).
BHS senior Caj Kueffer (fifth) and junior Aaron Karlin (sixth) were also all-league in the boys' race.
Spielman said many runners had a great meet, but the weather helped with that.
"We didn't have anybody that just had a really bad race," Spielman said. "Some kids may not have felt it was their best race all year, but they still ran solid. They did what they needed to do.
"It was a bit windy, but it was in the lower 50s and that's perfect running weather," Spielman said. "I thought the kids did a good job of not letting the colder temperature bother them. They know that's the best running temperature."
Now the Bulldogs must take their league titles into the Class 4A regional meet in Garnett.
"The result was very reassuring," Kueffer said about winning league. "I am proud of the team. We need to keep it up and stay healthy for regionals and state. It's (regionals) going to be fun this year. I think it will be a lot faster than last year."
The girls run at 11 a.m. Saturday with the boys' race at 11:30 a.m. The top three teams will advance to the state meet on Oct. 28 in Wamego.
The teams that Baldwin will be competing against are Basehor-Linwood, De Soto, Eudora, Fort Scott, Anderson County, Iola, Bishop Ward, Piper, Prairie View, St. James Academy, Louisburg, Osawatomie, Paola and Spring Hill.
"I am really excited about regionals at Anderson County," Spielman said. "It's great to run a course like theirs the week before state; it's really nice. It doesn't have very many hills or sharp turns that take a toll on your body."
Verhaeghe likes that they run against De Soto at regionals, because it will help them prepare for the state meet.
"It will be nice to run against them at regionals, so we know where to be at for state," Verhaeghe said.
Spielman said the league titles might give the Bulldogs some confidence heading into regionals, but they also know the Wildcats are right behind them.
"It helps build confidence, but it also lets us know that they are right there," Spielman said. "We've got to make sure we are doing what we need to do and things will take care of itself."
1. Chris Elniff, 16:40
5. Caj Kueffer, 17:23
6. Aaron Karlin, 17:28
17. Brad Canterbury, 17:53
23. Nathan Dick, 18:15
29. Connor Wright, 18:32
38. Blake Randels, 19:01
49. Blake Shields, 19:30
51. Michael Thurlow, 19:32
69. Patrick Pinault, 20:17
97. Alex Coffey, 21:12
98. Andy Woods, 21:13
125. Kedar Sandal, 22:56
Boys' team scores
1. Baldwin, 52
2. De Soto, 66
3. Gardner-Edgerton, 121
4. Anderson County, 133
5. Paola, 142
6. Eudora, 182
7. Central Heights, 210
8. Ottawa, 211
9. Louisburg, 212
10. Spring Hill, 258
11. Osawatomie, 270
12. Wellsville, 275
13. Prairie View, 358
1. Heather Garcia, 14:42
5. Kelsey Verhaeghe, 16:13
8. Corinna Papps, 16:38
11. Calleigh Durr, 16:51
12. Madison Shoemaker, 16:57
13. Julie Hill, 17:02
22. Misty Emery, 17:36
26. Colby Heckathorne 17:59
28. Amanda Vander Tuig, 18:12
36. Hannah Harris, 18:30
39. Hannah Sigvaldson, 18:36
54. Courtney Harris, 19:26
66. Chloe Gaylord, 20:09
90. Taylor Knisley, 21:48
107. Kim Moore, 25:26
Girls' team scores
1. Baldwin, 37
2. De Soto, 39
3. Gardner-Edgerton, 114
4. Eudora, 118
5. Ottawa, 157
6. Wellsville, 190
7. Paola, 195
8. Prairie View, 207
9. Anderson County, 211
10. Spring Hill, 215
11. Louisburg, 257