BHS girls win fifth state championship
WAMEGO — Several members of the Baldwin High School girls’ cross country team had their best races of the season here Saturday.
That culminated in the Bulldogs’ fifth Class 4A state championship in seven years. For the second straight year the Bulldogs cruised to the state title. BHS scored 46 points, which was 50 higher than the runner-up De Soto (96).
“I was ecstatic,” senior Calleigh Durr said. “We worked so hard all year long to get to that point. We made lots of sacrifices, so I was happy we won, especially in such a dominating way.”
BHS coach Mike Spielman was a bit shocked his Bulldogs won by 50 points. They battled the Wildcats at several meets and the margin was always slim between the two Frontier League schools.
“You’re always surprised when there is that much separation,” Spielman said. “It just shows that all of the girls ran great races. They all have to run great to score 46 points.”
However, this was the second straight year that several of the Bulldogs knew the victory was theirs as they finished the 4-kilometer race.
“When I looked behind me and saw Connor (Twombly) and Calleigh a few places back, I was pretty sure we won,” senior Corinna Papps said.
Durr agreed and said she only saw one Wildcat between her and her two teammates.
“I knew right way, because Connor and Corinna were both ahead of De Soto’s first girl and there were none around me,” Durr said. “I knew that we had the title.”
The trio of junior Twombly, Durr and Papps led the Bulldogs Saturday. They all finished in the top 10 and brought home three of the four individual medals for BHS.
“They went out and got up toward the front so they were in a good spot early in the race,” Spielman said. “They started moving up together and pushed each other. You could tell halfway through the race that we were in pretty good shape.”
Papps was once again the Bulldogs’ top finisher. She moved up throughout the race and placed third overall in a time of 15:38.83. It was her best individual finish at the state meet.
“I set my goals a bit higher than third, but you have to have something to shoot for,” Papps said. “I was still really happy to get third.”
Twombly followed Papps across the finish line. Her fourth-place finish came in a time of 15:45.95.
“Yeah, I was really excited about my race,” Twombly said. “It took me a long time to run that well. It was exciting.”
Spielman said Twombly saved her finest race for the finale.
“Connor had her best race of the year by far,” Spielman said. “She really felt good. All year she was getting closer and closer, but she never felt like she had that really good race. She had it Saturday and that’s the race where it counts the most. Now she is the fourth best in the state.”
Durr also had her highest state finish at her final meet. She placed 10th as she ran 15:56.50. That was her second individual state medal.
“Corinna and Calleigh did a great job of leading the team,” Spielman said. “Both of them finished in the top 10 and that’s what you need from your seniors.”
Baldwin’s other individual medalist was freshman Elizabeth Sigvaldson. She began the year leading the junior varsity squad, but soon found herself running varsity. One month later, she finished 19th at the 4A state meet in a personal-best time of 16:10.03.
“All year she kept getting better and better and figuring out how to race better,” Spielman said. “She’s got that freshman energy to get right in there and go for it.”
The next two Bulldogs to finish may not have earned medals, but they had their highest placing at the state meet. They were sophomore Heather Karlin (28th, 16:31.66) and junior Julie Hill (33rd, 16:50.90).
“They ran well,” Spielman said. “Heather got out and really mixed it up early in the race. I was really happy with that. She didn’t back down at all. She was close to medaling. Julie ran well, too. She moved up great throughout the race and finished well.”
Baldwin’s final runner didn’t run at the 4A regional the week prior to state. Junior Misty Emery filled in for injured freshman Abi Hartzell. Emery placed 81st, running 18:32.88.
“That’s why you have an alternate,” Spielman said. “Abi’s leg was hurting too much, so Misty stepped in and ran well. She helped round out the team.”
Baldwin won last year’s state title with 48 points. Last fall, BHS was led by state champion Heather Garcia, who graduated in May. Durr was proud of her teammates for running so well Saturday without their leader from a year ago.
“It was definitely a team victory,” Durr said. “I think people doubted us after we lost Heather last year. We knew we didn’t have that No. 1 person, so we knew we all had to step up and we did. We all moved up in our two packs as best we could.”
Spielman was proud of his girls’ team for performing their best at the final meet of the season.
“They saved their best race for last,” Spielman said. “That’s what you aim to do all year. That’s the way they’ve gone about it all year. They’ve tried to get better each day and saved it until the end. They ran an unbelievable race.”