Spielman’s teams earn 19 state trophies during decade
BHS Decade in Review: 2000-2009
During his first eight/nine years, Mike Spielman coached three Class 4A state championships.
Since 2000, the Baldwin High School cross country coach has led his teams to bring home 12 state titles. To help put it in perspective, Spielman’s boys’ and girls’ teams have only left the state meet in Wamego once without a trophy. That was this year when the boys finished fourth.
In 10 years, the Bulldogs have earned 19 state trophies under Spielman’s regime. That was enough to make the BHS cross country squads the team of the decade for Bulldog sports.
“It’s been kind of amazing that over time there have been lots of groups of kids come through the program, but they’ve all kept the tradition going,” Spielman said. “They’ve all kept the programs at the top every year.”
Of course, much of the credit goes right back to the Bulldogs’ humble leader.
“There are so many variables that go into the success of an athlete,” said Matt Noonan, 2002 BHS graduate who won seven state cross country titles, individual and team. “So it’s hard to say how much of it is natural talent or coaching, but he is a such a positive-reinforcing coach that coaches the right way. I think it’s contagious and runners are happy to run for him. I’ve never known anyone to run for coach Spielman and say anything ill toward him.”
During the 1990s, Spielman’s squads won a trio of state championships. The first was in 1993, with two more to follow in 1998 and 1999. The latest two were the start of something special at BHS.
Both BHS teams have won six state titles this decade. The boys’ team won theirs at the beginning, as they won six in a row from 2000-2005. Meanwhile, the BHS girls’ team has won the state championship six of the last eight years.
“It’s really kind of amazing that it kept going that long,” Spielman said. “The boys had theirs going at the beginning of the decade. Then there was some overlap with the girls’ success. Now the girls’ team has their own streak going.”
Early in the decade, the BHS boys stole the thunder each October. While the girls’ team was successful, the boys won title after title. The graduating class of 2002, which included Matt Noonan, Eric Black, Glen Stansberry and Hans Broers, helped start the streak in 1998. They also helped continue it for the first two years of the next decade.
In 2001, Noonan, Black and Stansberry all finished their final meet by placing in the top 20 and medaling at state. Some thought the boys’ streak might end with that class.
“I was a little surprised, but mainly really excited to see the streak continue,” Noonan said. “Anytime you lose four seniors, it’s tough. So for them to carry on and keep winning was impressive.”
Even Spielman was a bit surprised when his Bulldogs won the crown in 2002 and kept the streak rolling.
“That year there were three guys that medaled at state that were seniors,” Spielman said. “So we were losing three great guys. Then the next group stepped in and took their place. We even got better a couple years after that as a team.”
In fact, the Bulldogs scored their lowest total ever and set the state record for points at the time with 41 in 2004. The streak continued until 2006, when the Bulldogs finished runner-up to El Dorado. Even though Noonan had graduated several years prior, he enjoyed checking on the program’s success.
“It was great,” Noonan said. “I was really excited when I got the chance to come back and watch them run at state, even though my first year back was the year the streak ended. It was great to run the Big 12 championship race, then get a call from my parents or coach Spielman and hear that the boys won again. It definitely gave me a lot of pride for my school.”
Since that year, the boys’ team has finished second twice and third once at state. This fall, they placed fourth.
During the peak of the boys’ streak, the girls’ team started its own dynasty. The Bulldogs won their first title in 2002, before repeating in 2003. During the next three years, they won once and finished second twice.
Since finishing second in 2006, the Bulldogs have won three consecutive championships, each with ease. The final one, in October, was their most dominant with six medalists.
“It’s so great to see Baldwin do well,” Noonan said. “They are all tremendous people and awesome people. To see a streak now on the girls’ side, is incredible and really impressive.”
In case anyone thinks Spielman gets tired of winning or doesn’t appreciate each title the same, just ask him. He admits each title is special and hard to achieve.
“Every time you win, you sit back and realize that’s a great accomplishment,” Spielman said. “Once you keep winning, it’s hard to think that it may end, but it does, so you just enjoy each one of them. It’s amazing that it’s happened that many years.”