BHS boys’ track leads teams with back-to-back titles
BHS Decade in Review: 2000-2009
Baldwin High School has celebrated a proud decade of athletics with hundreds of games won and honors earned.
The Bulldogs won their share of Class 4A state trophies during the past 10 years. Excluding cross country, the Bulldogs have won six trophies for placing in the top three.
With that said, the second-most successful program would also be coached by Mike Spielman. His boys’ track squad has earned two state championship and one runner-up trophies from the state meet in Wichita.
“Those were great years, especially the 2002 team,” Spielman said. “We were pretty dominating that second year.”
The Bulldogs won state titles in 2001 and 2002, largely thanks to the 2002 senior class. Matt Noonan led the team with wins in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. He also finished second to teammate Eric Black in the 800-meter run.
BHS also placed first and second in the javelin with Eric Brown and Hugh Murphy. The 3,200-meter relay team of Black, Glen Stansberry, Hans Broers and Jonathan Strong also finished second at state.
“They are a great group of kids,” said coach Mike Spielman in 2001. “You cheer for them because they're doing the right things. They're making the right choices.”
BHS came back the next spring to defend its title. It did more than that, as it scored more points than the 2001 squad. Noonan, Black, Brown and Murphy placed the same in their respective events.
The surprise of the meet came from the 400-meter relay team. Coming into the meet the Bulldogs had the slowest time of any team. After Black did not qualify in the 110 hurdles, he was inserted on the team and with two days of hand-off practice, he was ready to go.
Other factors went the Bulldog's way as well. Three of the top ranked teams either did not finish or were disqualified in the preliminary round, which allowed the team to slip into finals. Additionally, with only the last hand-off to make, the Lansing team had a sizable lead but dropped the baton. This opened up a chance for the other seven anchor legs to win the race and Tyler Inzer outran them all. Also on the relay were Micah Mason, Brian Lauridsen and Black.
“We were seeded last, but made it into finals,” Spielman said. “Tyler Inzer got the baton behind a few guys. We had a good handoff on the last one and he just shot out. He just edged a Rose Hill runner at the finish line. It was very exciting.”
Four years later, the BHS boys’ track team came one race from winning its third state title in the decade. Instead, the Bulldogs lost the 1,600-meter relay and finished runner-up as a team. Ironically, they scored more points than the 2001 squad.
Aaron Hannon and Aaron Mills led the Bulldogs with state titles in the 300-meter hurdles and long jump. The Bulldogs scored in every running event but the 110-meter hurdles and the 800-meter run.
“We had a pretty good team, too,” Spielman said. “We scored two guys in the 300 hurdles and long jump. Aaron Mills scored a lot of points for us. We scored in a variety of events that year.”
The fall of 2003 was also a good year for BHS. Along with sweeping the state cross country meet, the Bulldogs finished runner-up at the state volleyball tournament. It’s the only state trophy for the program.
“It was a really fun year,” former coach Jill Brown said. “That was my fourth year as head coach and it took a couple years for the girls to get adjusted to my coaching. It was a lot easier that year, because I’d had them in the program for four years and they knew what to expect from me.”
The Bulldogs qualified in 2002, but failed to make it out of pool play. Expectations were high in 2003 and BHS didn’t disappoint with a 41-3 record.
They advanced all the way to the 4A finals where they met a talented Goodland team. The Bulldogs lost in straight sets but came home with the program’s only state trophy.
“I remember at the time, it hurt a lot,” Brown said. “We really expected to win, because we knew that was going to be a pretty good year. We went to state thinking we were going to win it, so I think that’s why it hurt so badly.”
During the past decade, Baldwin has finished third at state in two other sports. The girls’ track team placed third in 2007. Heather Garcia scored 30 of the Bulldogs’ 35 team points. Courtney Harris placed in the javelin and the 3,200 relay also medaled to help BHS.
“We’ve been knocking on the door of a state trophy many years,” coach Ted Zuzzio said. “We did earn a third-place trophy once and that was sweet. One year, we had more points than the year before when we got third, so I was thinking we would get second or third. We did our job, but there wasn’t enough teams to split up the rest of the points.”
The other state trophy came less than three months into the decade. The BHS boys’ basketball team entered the state tournament seeded eighth and left with a third-place trophy in 2000.
The Bulldogs upset No. 1 seed Jeff West in the opening round, 68-57. Baldwin lost to Labette County in the semifinal, but bounced back to beat Scott City in the third-place game. No BHS basketball team has returned to the state tournament since 2000.
Baldwin has also produced several teams that were highly successful, but unable to reach the state tournament or bring home a trophy. The most recent was the 2007 football team, which achieved something that hadn’t been done in 20 years at BHS.
“They were physical and that’s what I will always remember about that 2007 football team,” coach Mike Berg said. “They liked to hit. They liked to tackle and they liked to run over people. They played the game the way every coach wishes their team would play like — physical.”
The Bulldogs advanced through the playoffs all the way to the final four. They met Louisburg once again, on the road, and fell to the Wildcats again. Both games were close, but Louisburg edged out the Bulldogs, 31-20 and 21-14.
Baldwin’s other top team came from the girls’ basketball squad during the 2002-2003 season. The Bulldogs were loaded with juniors and seniors and ranked high in the state. Late in the season, the Bulldogs hosted No. 1 ranked Spring Hill and upset the Broncos.
“What most people don’t remember about that time we beat them, is we lost Katelyn Miles to a knee injury the next day at practice,” coach Eric Toot said. “She had moved up to the first girl coming off the bench and she was playing outstanding basketball.”
Two weeks later, the squads, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state, met again in the sub-state finals. Only this time, the game was at Spring Hill. Baldwin had a five-point lead with one minute remaining, but the game went into overtime. The Broncos won in overtime and eventually cruised through the state tournament a week later.
“We had a three- or four-year run where we were one of the top five teams in the state,” Toot said. “Unfortunately, probably the best team in the state at that time was also in our league and our sub-state. We were just never able to get over the hump and go to state, even though we were one of the best teams in the state during that stretch. Those were great games.”