Archive for Thursday, June 16, 2011

Baldwin High School state titles piling up

Baldwin High School sophomore Kaitlyn Barnes, right, is pictured with girls track coach Ted Zuzzio, junior Brian Wright and boys track coach Mike Spielman on Monday at Baldwin High. The Bulldogs won state titles this past year in boys and girls track & field, along with boys and girls cross country. They became the first school in Kansas history to sweep both state titles in the same school year.

Baldwin High School sophomore Kaitlyn Barnes, right, is pictured with girls track coach Ted Zuzzio, junior Brian Wright and boys track coach Mike Spielman on Monday at Baldwin High. The Bulldogs won state titles this past year in boys and girls track & field, along with boys and girls cross country. They became the first school in Kansas history to sweep both state titles in the same school year.

June 16, 2011

The trophy case at Baldwin High is full, a product of the school’s vast athletic success in the last decade.

And thanks to this season’s efforts from the boys and girls cross country teams and the boys and girls track & field teams, there are four more state championship trophies that don’t have a home quite yet.

They sit in cross country and boys track coach Mike Spielman’s classroom, for now at least.

Spielman has been a part of tons of state titles — he has 17 cross country championships in 19 seasons — and none of them slip his memory.

“I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of quite a few of them, but for those kids, it’s the one that they remember because it’s the one they were a part of,” Spielman said. “I remember all of them.”

The Bulldogs scored the cross country titles rather easily.

The Baldwin girls cruised to their fourth straight title, and the boys fended off Mulvane — the three-time reigning champions — for their first title since 2005.

Brian Wright runs both cross country and track for Baldwin. Unlucky injuries have slowed him during cross country — he blacked out during this year’s state meet after hitting a tree with his head — but he still enjoys the team dynamics of the sport.

“The team concept in cross country is pretty awesome, because it’s basically a family,” Wright said. “We all get along really well with each other.”

The track championships weren’t as expected.

Both the boys and girls championship came down the final race, the 4x400 relay. Spielman and sprinters coach Ted Zuzzio had done the calculating and knew what their teams needed to do to win.

The boys had to secure third place, one spot ahead of their seed after the preliminaries on Friday. The girls, coached by Zuzzio, needed to win and get some help from a couple other teams.

“I think the nerves were definitely there,” said Kaitlyn Barnes, who runs both track and cross country for the Bulldogs.

Both teams blocked out the pressure and focused on running their race.

The boys finished third. The girls finished first and got the necessary help.

In the end, both teams tied for the state championship, the boys with Louisburg and the girls with Colby. And in Kansas track, there’s no way to break ties. All four teams were named state champions.

The girls secured their second consecutive title and the boys took their first track state championship since 2002.

“Everything was perfect,” Barnes said. “Nothing could have gone better.”

The city of Baldwin has embraced the school’s running dynasty, with hundreds of supporters traveling to Wichita for the state meet.

“It’s nice when you have such a good community of people and they all join together for the big event,” Wright said. “To win it for yourself and your team and your city, it’s just awesome.”

And now, the Bulldogs want to replicate the feelings of earning the state championship. Their goals for the 2011-2012 school year are no different: secure state titles.

“They just like to compete,” Zuzzio said. “That’s all we ever ask of any of our kids. It sort of caught on and we’ve had success because of their willingness to work hard in practice and sacrifice.”

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