Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2011

BHS cross country teams aiming to defend 4A state titles

September 1, 2011

Both Baldwin High School cross country teams are aiming to defend their state championships, but in basically opposite manners this fall.

One team has a solid core at the top, but had question marks about who will fill the rest of the varsity lineup. The other squad has so many runners, half of whom could make varsity, that the battle for a varsity spot will very tightly contested.

Although the make up of both teams are vastly different, when it comes to BHS cross country, the ultimate goal remains the same.

“We want to defend our title,” senior Brian Wright. “Since winning last year, we've been hungry to win again. It will be tough, but that's our goal.”

The BHS boys won their first state title last year since 2005. Meanwhile, the BHS girls have won four straight championships and they look to add another this fall.

“They want to keep their streak going,” coach Mike Spielman said. “It's a goal of theirs. Right now, there is a lot of competition for spots on varsity, so I think there will a lot of movement up and down the team as the season progresses.”

While some of the girls know the BHS boys had an eight-year streak from 1998-2005, others just focus on this year's team.

“I didn't even know the boy's streak,” senior Carol Whaley said. “The girls only talk about this year.”

The 2011 season looks to be a promising one for the BHS girls' squad. The Bulldogs return six of the seven runners from last year' state title team. Plus they've added depth with new runners.

“There's 30 or 31 girls on the team and only seven make varsity,” Whaley said. “So everyone has to work as hard as possible during every practice. There's no down time.”

Whaley is one of the returning state runners. Joining her on the varsity team from the state squad at the first meet will be sophomore Katie Jones, junior Kaitlyn Barnes, junior Sienna Durr and sophomore Hannah Hutton.

Also running varsity at today's meet will be junior Elena Watson and senior Abi Hartzell. Other runners that will battle for the varsity lineup include senior Elizabeth Sigvaldson, sophomore Libby Verhaeghe, sophomore Ashton Temple and senior Miriam Conath.

“We're deep,” Spielman said. “It will be very competitive, especially on the junior varsity team. We should have a very solid JV team each meet, too.”

The Bulldogs will have the chance to battle against each other in the same race at four meets this fall.

“Our two home meets have unlimited varsity entries,” Spielman said. “At league and Sabetha, all of them will run together. So at four of our meets, they will be able to run head-to-head.”

Meanwhile, the boys' team lost a large senior class from its state title team, including top runner Tony Weiss. The Bulldogs also lost its fifth, sixth and seventh runners from a year ago. However, they return their second, third and fourth runners.

Senior Tosh Mihesuah, sophomore Ethan Hartzell and Wright are the top three returning BHS runners. They aim to lead Baldwin at every meet.

“Ethan and I train together on almost every single run,” Wright said. “Our workouts are very similar. Tosh is right there with us, too. Our top three is pretty strong.”

The other four varsity spots are a mystery right now. Three of those spots will be filled at the first meet by sophomore Tucker Clark, senior Colton Horne and freshman Joe Pierce. Also in the mix during the season will be senior Cory Stephens and freshman Brock Randels.

“We have some guys that are working hard at filling in that varsity lineup,” Spielman said. “There's Tucker, Joe, Cory, Colton and Brock that are working hard.”

Wright agreed with his coach.

“People are stepping up,” Wright said. “They are definitely competitive. There's no denying how tough our guys are, because they're willing to do what it takes to win.”

The Bulldogs open the season today at Garnett. Due to expected hot temperatures, meet officials moved the race times back and combined races. The girls will start at 7 p.m. with the boys starting at 7:30 p.m.

“We've been working really hard and the kids are excited to start the season,” Spielman said. “The first meet on Thursday is always great to see where we are at early in the year.”

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