Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2006

Column: Next 48 hours are huge for Bulldogs

October 26, 2006

When it comes to athletics, there are not many things sweeter than beating your rival or winning a championship.

I was lucky enough to achieve the latter of those during my time at Baldwin High School. Now the current fall sports athletes at BHS have the chance to do either of those.

The end of October represents the beginning of high school postseason play. It's an exciting time for schools, students and fans all around the country. But it also means a lot more pressure for the teams and players. The teams and athletes who can step up and cut the pressure with a knife will be the ones celebrating.

The Baldwin High School football, soccer and cross country teams are at that state now. All four teams face their challenges tonight and Saturday. Only the strong will survive now. Do the Bulldogs have what it takes to achieve success? I believe they do.

Let's start with tonight's action. The first game will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Baker University's Liston Stadium. The BHS soccer team will host its regional championship against Piper with a state berth on the line.

The second-year BHS program will have the chance to qualify for the state quarterfinals with a victory tonight. I know the team and coaches are excited about the opportunity.

The Bulldogs have been playing well all season, but now they must step up their game a notch. It will take everybody playing well to keep advancing. I hope the Bulldogs can move on past tonight's game, because state soccer will be a new experience for me.

One problem with the game time is that it is right before the BHS football game. I am afraid that many students and fans will be traveling to Eudora and won't stick around to watch the soccer game.

I suggest that Baldwin fans watch the first half of the soccer game before traveling to the football game. The soccer team could use some fans also.

Shortly after the soccer team kicks off, the BHS football team will begin in Eudora. The Bulldogs and Cardinals will start at 7 p.m. It is the final regular season and district game for both teams.

Baldwin comes in at 4-4 while Eudora has an unblemished record of 8-0. Judging by the records only, it could look like a massacre might happen, but that's why you must dig deeper into the game.

Baldwin has been through a tough season with several losses and other problems. But the Bulldogs have showed resilience all season and have a chance to upset their rival, who happens to be undefeated.

Last year Eudora came into this game also unbeaten, while Baldwin had one loss. The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and hung on to win. I know they would love to do that again. It should be a great rivalry game with a bi-district playoff spot on the line.

Baldwin fans will be able to rest up Friday, before waking up early to travel to Wamego for the state cross country meet. The BHS girls will run at 9:30 a.m. with the boys to follow at 10:30 a.m.

Both Bulldogs' teams have been making headlines during coach Mike Spielman's tenure. Some of those include a reigning eight straight Class 4A titles by the boys' team or consecutive Frontier League titles that are sitting at 10 and 11 years.

The headlines this year have been slightly different, with the boys' team suffering an early season defeat. Both teams have been battling a tough De Soto team all season and that is expected to happen Saturday.

The boys will be shooting for their ninth straight title. I know the seniors don't want the streak to stop on their time at BHS. It will take a strong effort by all seven runners, but particularly from the No. 4 and No. 5 runners.

I don't want to see the streak end either, since I was a part of the 1998 team that started this madness. It's been fun watching the Bulldogs win each year, but I know it's also stressful for the team.

The girls' team looked to be a Class 4A favorite coming into the season, but De Soto has hung tough so far. The Wildcats have a couple of strong freshmen that make an impact on their team.

Many of the BHS runners have achieved success early in their high school careers. They can't settle for one state championship, especially if they want to start a streak like the boys' team has running.

While the girls' team will have its battle with De Soto, BHS standout junior Heather Garcia will have her own competition at the front of the pack. She will have to keep contending with Eudora's Brittney Graff, who will have plenty of motivation built up.

Garcia has beaten Graff in every race that the two have competed in since the 2006 track season began. Graff has finished a close second in many of those races, but she is reining 4A state champion. Graff is also a senior who would love nothing more than to beat Garcia in her final high school cross country race.

They are two of the best runners in the state, so it should be an exciting 4-kilometers to watch Saturday.

The next 48 hours will be busy for BHS fans. I hope they understand what is at stake during all of these events. Baldwin fans need to be out in full force tonight and Saturday cheering on the BHS competitors.

Go Bulldogs.

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