BHS boys enjoy first track championship since 2002
Wichita Mike Spielman’s third Class 4A state track and field team championship might not have been as flashy as his first two, but he was just as proud here Saturday night.
In fact, the Bulldogs’ state title this year wasn’t as flashy as their runner-up finish in 2006. They scored 72 points that year, which is normally a lock to win the title, but Abilene scored 76 and won the championship. BHS won the state title in 2001 and 2002, led by the class of 2002 both years.
This year’s team overcame injuries and students transferring to bring home the state title trophy over the weekend. It was the first state track championship for any of the Bulldogs.
“It was neat watching Jesse (Austin) hang on to that trophy,” coach Mike Spielman said. “It’s his senior year. Some of those kids got to win a title in cross country, but for others this was their first state championship.”
Baldwin wasn’t the only boys’ team to win the 4A championship Saturday. BHS split the title with Frontier League foe Louisburg. Both teams scored 43 points to earn a tie. Baldwin won the coin flip to bring home the trophy Saturday, while Louisburg will be mailed a trophy later.
“Yeah, it’s a tie, but both teams are champions,” Spielman said. “Being a state champion is a neat deal for all of those kids and all of our supporters. We had tons of Baldwin people who came down to watch.”
Baldwin and Louisburg weren’t the only league schools at or near the top of the standings. Paola finished fifth with 31 points and De Soto placed eighth with 26. Paola was the two-time reigning state champs.
“I was thinking back and the hardest meet I was trying to plan for was league,” Spielman said. “There were only seven schools in the league, but four of them are really tough. We were fortunate enough to win league. Then you look at the state results and four of the top eight schools were those schools.”
While points added up all day for the Bulldogs, they were never able to win any events. They also never finished runner-up in any events during the weekend. The Bulldogs finished third in five events and fourth in three others.
“We didn’t win any event or get second in any event,” Spielman said. “I think it really shows what kind of team we had. We had to scratch and claw in every event. There was a lot of pressure on them to fight for everything.”
Baldwin’s final third-place finish was what it needed to share the team title with the Wildcats. BHS and Louisburg were tied with 37 points heading into the final two races of the day.
Louisburg’s Mark Sitek placed third in the 200-meter dash. The BHS boys on the 1,600-meter relay knew what they had to do in the final race.
“It was exciting to be tied going into the last two races,” senior Carson Barnes said. “Louisburg’s guy got third in the 200, so we knew to either beat him or tie to get first. It was exciting. I’ve never been in anything like it before.”
They did just enough, finishing third in a time of 3:27.36. Junior Asher Hannon held off two opposing runners on the anchor leg of the relay.
“It was a big battle coming down to the 4x400,” Hannon said. “We had to get it done for our teammates.”
Spielman agreed with Hannon.
“It’s great to have a 4x400 relay, so you have a chance to score that very end,” Spielman said. “They did a great job and that’s the group we wanted out there to do it for us.”
The four relay runners, who were Hannon, Barnes, junior Tosh Mihesuah and junior Brian Wright, were greeted by teammates from the boys and girls teams after the race. Celebration ensued on the Cessna Stadium infield and in the Bulldogs’ section in the stands.
“It feels awesome,” senior Tony Weiss said. “A lot of people worked really hard all year and we’ve been working hard since last year, because we knew we had a good shot at the title. To come out here and do it is awesome.”
Weiss, who won his first-ever team state title in the fall with cross country, battled a leg injury all spring. He medaled at state his first three years, but wasn’t able to this year. Despite the individual troubles, he was one of the first to celebrate with his teammates Saturday.
“It makes it feel a lot better,” Weiss said. “It was a great team season, but it wasn’t a great individual season for me. To come out here and win the state championship with the team helps a lot. It was a good year.”