Weather delays meet in return to Garnett
The Class 4A regional cross country meet was dejvu from nine years ago.
Saturday's cold, rainy meet was almost identical to the 1997 regional meet in Garnett.
"It's been there twice in 10 years and both times have been cold and rainy," Baldwin High School coach Mike Spielman said. "This year wasn't as cold as that year. The rain was probably more miserable for the parents and fans. Once the kids got running, it wasn't that big of a deal."
Temperatures may not have been as low, but it was cold enough for junior Heather Garcia.
"It was really cold at regionals, which made the day bad and harder to run," Garcia said.
Instead of colder temperatures, the teams had to battle another wonder of Mother Nature. Lightning delayed the start of the girls' race by 45 minutes, which may have been a first for Spielman.
"I think this was the first time I've ever been at a meet where it was delayed for lightning," Spielman said. "We expected the cold and the rain, but not the lightning this late in the year."
The postponed start of the first race caused problems with warming up.
"Regionals went really good," junior Madison Shoemaker said. "We all ran the best we could considering the weather delay and the short warm-up time."
The BHS boys' and girls' teams came home with the first and second team trophies, respectively.
The boys held off De Soto by two points, winning with 51 points to De Soto's 53.
"In a nut shell, we ran strong as a team and came out on top, but we'll have to pick it up for state," senior Nathan Dick said.
Spielman was proud of how the boys ran and how they keep improving throughout the season.
"I thought we ran well Saturday," Spielman said. "With each meet, the guys are improving. Our fifth and sixth guys are starting to get stronger. The nice thing is we are beating De Soto's sixth runner now, because when you have close races, you want to have that tiebreaker."
The BHS girls were unable to beat the Wildcats for the second straight meet. De Soto scored 36 points, while Baldwin tallied 43 as the regional runner up.
"We just ended up on the wrong side of the De Soto runners," Spielman said. "We were right there with them, but they just happened to beat us and make those little two-point swings."
Garcia once again won the girls' race as she held off Eudora's Brittney Graff. She won with a time of 14:45, which was 10 seconds ahead of her rival.
Graff was one minute ahead of the third-place runner, which was the first of three straight De Soto runners. Spielman hopes there will be some girls to fill that gap at the state meet.
"Hopefully at state there will be some people in that area to help us out some," Spielman said. "We are going to need to get up there close. We are going to have to find the runners we need to get ahead of them."
On the boys' side, senior Chris Elniff was unable to beat his Eudora competitor that he defeated one week ago. Eudora's Joey Chino won the race eight seconds ahead of Elniff, who placed second with a time of 17:03.
"The runner-up spot wasn't where I wanted to be, but we still got the team title, which is what matters," Elniff said.
Now the Bulldogs head to Wamego for the state meet. Spielman knows it may come down to Baldwin and De Soto in both races.
"I know that whoever has the good race that day is going to win, because we are pretty evenly matched all the way through," Spielman said. "We have kind of split all season with De Soto. It's going to come down to who has the good race on Saturday."
Both BHS teams are reining state champions from a year ago. The boys have won the title for the past eight years, while the girls have won it three of the last four years.
"Their goal all season is to be state champs," Spielman said. "That's what everybody's goal is once you start this. The nice thing is they have the ability to be in it. That's all you can ask for.
"I know they feel some pressure," Spielman said. "It's a lot better to feel that when you are trying to win the championship, than be at the bottom and know you can't get a trophy."
The girls race starts at 9:30 a.m. and the boys begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Wamego Country Club.
"We just need to run our race and do what we need to do," Spielman said. "I don't think anybody has to run anything extraordinary. We just need to go out and do our thing and I think we will be just fine."
Garcia is a bit superstitious about making any predictions for the meet.
"I can't predict state outcomes, because it is bad luck and could jinx us," Garcia said.
2. Chris Elniff, 17:03
5. Caj Kueffer,17:28
6. Aaron Karlin, 17:31
17. Brad Canterbury, 18:07
21. Connor Wright, 18:25
23. Nathan Dick, 18:33
34. Blake Randels, 19:01
1. Heather Garcia, 14:45
6. Kelsey Verhaeghe, 16:08
11. Madison Shoemaker, 16:38
13. Calleigh Durr, 16:44
15. Corinna Papps, 16:53
23. Misty Emery, 17:15
26. Julie Hill, 17:24