BHS girls ready for state meet
CARBONDALE -- It took a tumble by an opponent on the final lap of the final event for Amanda Vander Tuig to qualify for the state track meet.
Vander Tuig, a Baldwin High School senior, thought her hopes of traveling to Wichita this weekend were over after the 1,600-meter relay. She was the third leg of the team that looked to finish fifth and miss qualifying by one place.
"It was the last event and I was very worried this was going to be my last event ever," Vander Tuig said.
What Vander Tuig didn't know was that one of the top three teams fell off the track during the final leg. Andover Central's anchor became tangled with Eudora and El Dorado's runners before falling.
That allowed BHS to finish fourth as anchor Kelsey Verhaeghe crossed the line and qualify the relay for the state meet this weekend.
"I am very excited to qualify my senior year," Vander Tuig said. "It was down to the wire. I was kind of nervous about that, but it feels good to qualify. It shows you that anything can happen."
The 1,600 relay finished the race in a time of 4:16.30. BHS junior Courtney Harris and sophomore Corinna Papps also run on the relay. That race helped the BHS girls' track team place fourth with 55 points.
Augusta and Eudora both scored 84 points to split the team title. El Dorado nipped Baldwin by one point for third place as it scored 56.
"I thought we had a good meet, but not a great meet," coach Ted Zuzzio said. "I am happy that our mile relay got in. That group has worked hard, so it was sort of a reward for them. They have been solid all year."
BHS won the javelin and the 3,200-meter relay Friday. Harris won her second straight meet in the javelin.
She threw 123 feet, 1 inch to beat second place by more than 5 feet.
"I was pretty happy," Harris said. "I wish I could have thrown further, but it didn't happen."
Zuzzio said he was happy to see Harris throwing more consistently.
"That was pretty exciting. She is consistently throwing 123 or 124 now, which should give her a chance to medal at state if she throws that or a little further."
It was her first Class 4A regional championship. She did say several quality seniors graduated in 2006 and the change of location helped her win.
"It felt good because we usually have a tough regional with teams like Tonganoxie," Harris said. "Everyone that threw good last year graduated."
The other Baldwin victory came in the 3,200 relay. Sophomore Calleigh Durr, freshman Connor Twombly, Papps and Verhaeghe led BHS to the win. They ran a 10:09.10 to win the race by 11 seconds.
"Our 4x800 ran their fastest time of the year, which was nice," Zuzzio said. "We had a few kids that had big days for us."
Papps also qualified in the 300-meter hurdles. She set a new personal record with her 49.8 that was good enough to place her fourth.
The final BHS qualifier was junior Heather Garcia. She ran four individual races with one other event between each.
"I qualified in all four, so I am happy with my day," Garcia said. "That's all I wanted to do. I am really tired, but I knew it was going to be the hardest day of the year. It was, but it was worth it, so it's all good."
Garcia qualified in the 400-meter dash (third, 59.8), 800-meter run (second, 2:22.9), 1,600-meter run (fourth, 5:43.4) and the 3,200-meter run (third, 11:59.5).
She took her coach's advice and ran all races with the goal of qualifying, not winning.
"I knew it would be a lot on me, because I've never run that many races in that short of time," Garcia said. "It was hard to tell myself just to qualify and not compete. It was hard but it was worth it."
Zuzzio is hoping Garcia will have enough left in the tank for the state meet this weekend.
"Heather was able to survive and advance in four open events," Zuzzio said. "That will give her a chance to compete for all four individual titles at the state championship meet."
Garcia will run the 400 prelims and 3,200 Friday. Then she will have the 1,600, 400 finals and 800 on Saturday. Last year she won the 1,600 and 3,200 while finishing runner-up in the 800. She hopes to achieve even more success this year.
"Times are great but the important thing is placing," Garcia said. "I am just going to worry about placing and run what it takes to win."
Baldwin will head to Wichita Friday morning and return Saturday night. All of the athletes and coaches are looking forward to the meet.
"It's going to be crazy, because you never know what can happen," said Zuzzio. "If we have some kids have some big days, we could be smiling at the end. We will go out there and compete like we always have and that's all I can ask."