Archive for Thursday, January 7, 2010

BHS athletes win 32 individual state titles for Bulldogs

BHS Decade in Review: 2000-2009

January 7, 2010

It’s no secret that Baldwin High School has seen some successful athletes come through its doors over the year — especially during the past decade.

Since 2000, a total of 12 athletes have won 32 individual state championships for BHS. While most of those were earned in track or cross country, the Bulldogs brought home four other gold medals from state competitions.

To begin the decade, Blake Glover capped off his incredible boys’ tennis career with a singles title in 2000. He had won two with his older brother Chad as a doubles team, but this was his first individual championship.

Two years later, the BHS wrestling program had its first title winner since 1987. In his senior campaign, Witt Hinton won the 275-pound weight class at the Class 4A state championships.

It was quite an accomplishment for a wrestler who competed on junior varsity for much of his sophomore season. He was all but pinned in his heavyweight title bout with Eudora's Shane Grant, but Hinton used a reversal to gain the advantage for good on his way to an 8-1 win in the final match.

“He weighed about 190 or 195 and wrestled in the upper weight class,” BHS coach Kit Harris said. “He was really tall, long and strong. He was really smart. So his state title was really cool, because of his size.”

The same year, sophomore Kyle Flory finished runner-up at state. In 2003, Flory came back to win his first-ever state title as a junior. He won the 171-weight class.

“Kyle was amazing,” Harris said. “He lost 17 matches as a freshman and then he wins 42 matches the next year and goes to the state finals. Then he won it his junior year. He’s probably the one kid I had get better from one year to the next more than anybody else.”

It was five more years before the BHS wrestling program had another state champion, although several Bulldogs came close. As a freshman, Kevin Callahan finished fourth. He placed runner-up the next two years, falling just one win short of his ultimate dream.

It took until his senior year to earn gold at the state level. That victory also gave him the state record for career wins, with 171. His brother Alan tied the record the next year with his runner-up finish.

“Kevin placed high all four years,” Harris said. “His senior year, he lost to a Paola kid four times, but that guy lost in the semifinals. The finals was a great win for Kevin, because he worked so hard all four years.”

The remainder of Baldwin’s state champions in the past decade came from cross country or track. Coach Mike Spielman is responsible for most of them, but he didn’t coach a certain female sprinter in 2004.

The BHS girls’ 400-meter relay team was seeded high heading into the state meet. However, in the finals, the baton was dropped a couple of steps after the first handoff. Waiting to anchor her final 400 relay was senior Rachel Miles.

She exited the track looking frustrated and angry. Fortunately, she didn’t have time to sit and dwell on the relay. She was due up in the 400-meter dash finals, which was the next event.

“There was blood in her eyes,” coach Ted Zuzzio said. “She wasn’t going to be denied.”

Miles drew lane eight in the race. She was an underdog to win the race, yet she led coming around the final turn. Sumner Academy's Laiecha Bowles caught Miles and they ran neck and neck for the final 100 meters, crossing the finish line at seemingly the same time.

Miles narrowly edged Bowles at the line. Miles won with a time of 58.953 seconds, while Bowles finished in a time of 58.958. Miles also won the 400 dash state title as a junior.

“Rachel Miles’ race was as exciting as you’ll ever get to watch,” Zuzzio said. “She was coming off of a sickness and she was in lane eight, which is the worst lane to have. She just took off and never looked back. It was a photo finish and an exciting victory for all of the Baldwin people to watch.”

The BHS girls’ track squad had three other state champions this decade. Emily Brown won the 4A high jump as a freshman.

The other two were distance runners. In 2000, Megan Noonan won the 3,200-meter run as a junior. She battled Burlington’s Trisha Culbertson for most of the race, but pulled ahead late. She won in a time of 11:32.42, which was the school record until 2005.

A girl by the name of Heather Garcia came along and rewrote the BHS distance record books. She set the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 run records as a freshman. However, she placed second at state in the 1,600 and 3,200.

As a sophomore, Garcia began her 4A dominance. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 run state titles three times. She finished second in the 800 three straight years.

“Heather Garcia dominated more than any track athlete we’ve ever had,” Zuzzio said. “You fired the gun and she was ready to run. When she was younger, she just took off and won. As she got older, she was not only able to use her ability, but her mind as she ran smarter, too.”

Baldwin has also excelled in track and field on the boys’ side. Before Garcia, came a runner named Matt Noonan. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, he also won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the state meet.

The 800 state championship also escaped his grasp. Except it was his teammate and friend Eric Black who won the 800 state title in 2001 and 2002.

Their classmate Eric Brown took home the javelin state championships those two years. Another classmate, Hugh Murphy, finished second behind Brown both years.

The BHS boys’ next state title came in 2006. Senior Aaron Hannon won the 300-hurdles that year, while junior Aaron Mills won the long jump. Senior Jeremy Wright finished third to Mills.

“We had some great kids come through our program for many years,” Spielman said. “After the 2002 season, it took a few years, but that 2006 team was loaded with talent and hard-working guys.”

Spielman also coached three athletes to cross country state titles. Both Noonans and Garcia earned individual gold. Megan Noonan won her second championship as a senior in 2000. Her brother won his second and third titles in 2000 and 20001. Garcia dominated the 4A state meet in 2006 and 2007 to earn her gold medals.

Of course, being a successful athlete isn’t all about winning a state title. Many great athletes competed in team sports and earned plenty of honors that left them as legends at BHS.

Baldwin’s most honored football player during the past decade would arguably be 2004 graduate Micah Mason. He played on the freshman team the first week of the 2000 season, before playing junior varsity in week two. By the third week, he found himself playing varsity. For the next three-plus years, Mason made a name for himself as a 4A running back.

He finished his career as the all-time leading rusher under coach Mike Berg’s regime with 5,320 yards rushing and 69 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry. He was an all-state player in 2003.

“Micah was a full-time, dedicated, true leader,” Berg said. “He led by example and he was always humble. That’s what I will remember about Micah. All of the other coaches and players knew that Micah was a special player. They keyed in on him and he was still able to produce, even when they knew he was the guy we were going to give the ball to. He was always humble about his success.”

Baldwin’s had many other all-state players during the last decade. They were Ben Cosman, Ricky Spotz, Kyle Flory, Kyle Ruona, Andy Hannon, Austin Inzer, Aaron Hannon, Eli Mitchell, Klay Garrison, Luke Weaver, Anthony Ciambrone, Jacob Enick, Jared Hall, Jesse Green, Sam Beecher and David Tuley.

Baldwin High had another athlete who hasn’t been forgotten. She excelled in volleyball and basketball for four years. After her senior season in 2003, Emily Brown was named Gatorade’s Kansas Volleyball Player of the Year.

“Honestly, it was OK coaching her,” said Jill Brown, Emily’s mother and coach for four years. “She knew I was going to expect more out of her, because she was my daughter. She knew I was going to be harder on her than anybody else. She was really good about that and she was patient with how hard I was on her. I didn’t give her the credit she deserved at times.”

Baldwin also had others who earned honors while playing for the Bulldogs. Those include softball stars Callie Craig and Alex Zordel. Craig earned an all-state honor once while Zordel earned the honor all four years.

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