Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Column: Garcia capped off sports year

June 7, 2007

Well, she did it. She helped Baldwin High School finish its 2006-07 sports year with a bang.

The highly-decorated junior led the way as the BHS girls' track team earned a trophy at the state meet. Heather Garcia captured everyone's heart once again.

Garcia competed in four events, which combined to total 16 laps or four miles around the Cessna Stadium track at Wichita. She didn't just simply run the races, she ran to win ... and win she did.

For the second straight year, Garcia stood atop the Class 4A podium in two races. She smoked around the oval to earn her second consecutive 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter run titles.

Two events after the 1,600, she competed in her first 400-meter run at the state meet. She finished sixth, but wasn't pleased with her performance.

She looked exhausted coming across the finish line. I wasn't sure how she would run another race, but she gutted it out like a true champion.

Her final event of the weekend was the 800-meter run. She ran a personal-best time and beat 14 competitors with her time of 2:17.03. However, it just wasn't enough.

El Dorado's Laura Nightengale ran a marvelous 2:14.32 to break the 4A state record by more than two seconds. Garcia emptied her tank finishing that race, so you can't fault her at all. Nightengale ran the state's fastest time that day and beat Garcia for the second straight year.

Garcia's quest for three gold medals was once again denied. She is still searching for the state triple that eluded BHS great Matt Noonan. He was beaten by his teammate, Eric Black, in the 800 during his junior and senior years.

The simple fact of the matter was that Black was the better 800 runner. He had more speed than Noonan. Unfortunately, it might be the same case for Garcia. She will have one more shot at the gold medal triple next May. Nightengale will also be searching for gold. It gives me chills just thinking about how great of a race it could be.

Hopefully, Garcia will have one less race under her belt before running the 800. I know she wants the 400 record, but the open 400 isn't quite her best race. She might better serve BHS and herself by running in the 1,600-meter relay at the end of the meet. Maybe she will break the 400 record at an earlier date. She has run in the low 59s, but Rachel Miles' time of 58.95 isn't an easy one to beat.

Of course, Garcia wasn't the only Bulldog to perform well at state. The entire girls' team was incredible. Junior Courtney Harris broke her own javelin record with a toss of 128 feet, 9 inches to place sixth.

The 3,200-meter relay also set a new school record (9:53.15) and placed fifth. Those four girls ran their best race of the season. It was exciting to watch as a former BHS distance runner.

The BHS boys also had a solid state meet. Seniors Chris Elniff and Caj Kueffer led the way with three medals. The BHS boys ran well in two relays and the 800. The Bulldogs will be missing some seniors next season, but that happened last year, too.

The track teams were the last to compete for BHS, but postseason honors have rolled in from other sports and I have one to complain about.

Three BHS softball players earned all-league honors, which was great for a league that sent four teams to state tournaments. Senior Annie Hannon, sophomore Alex Zordel and sophomore Tracie Weege each made the all-league team. They all earned it, but so did one other Bulldog.

Junior pitcher Callie Craig was snubbed.

Craig finished the season with a 0.75 earned run average and a .458 batting average. She hit seven doubles, one home run and knocked in 14 runs. Yet she was denied a spot on the first team, second team or honorable mention.

The four pitchers chosen were all seniors. They were all good pitchers with comparable stats to Craig, but somehow she was left off the all-league teams.

She was BHS' best batter and pitcher if you go by statistics. I hope the other coaches don't only vote for seniors because it's their final season. If they do, Craig will be in line for the first team next year.

Although she didn't earn the all-league honor from the opposing coaches, Craig earns a spot on my top performance list of the year.

It was a fun school year with lots of highs and several lows. Now its time to get outside and enjoy the weather.

Anyone up for a game of Frisbee golf?

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