Baldwin High School cross country teams claim regional titles, eye state
The Baldwin High School cross country teams shined in their final meets before home fans, winning 4A regional titles and qualifying full teams for Saturday’s state finals in Wamego.
The girls coasted to the team title with 39 points, which was almost half that posted by second-place Atchison’s 78 points. The boys turned back a surprising challenge from De Soto, scoring 49 points to its Frontier League foe’s 55.
Leading the way for the two Bulldog teams were the same senior runners who have set the pace all year. Addie Dick won the individual regional title with a time of 19:17.81. George Letner was second in the boys 5K to his longtime rival Dylan Brenneman of Spring Hill. Letner finished with a time of 16:26.34.
“We were working for saving energy for state, so we didn’t run really fast,” Letner said. “We weren’t going for place or time, just make sure you have plenty of energy for state.”
One exception was his teammate Dakota Helm, who posted his best time of the year at 17:03, which was good for eighth place. Although about 30 seconds slower than his personal best from last year, it was a victory for the senior who has been fighting calf problems all season.
“I felt strong today,” Helm said. “I’ve started a gluten-free diet, and that has really helped.”
Baldwin coach Mike Spielman said Helm’s resurgence came at an opportune time as it was key in the Bulldogs claiming the regional title.
Although the girls were also happy with their performance Saturday, they, too, were focused on Wamego. Dick said her individual goal was to finish in the top five and help the team to its first 4A championship since 2011. The wind Saturday morning slowed her from the school-record pace she’s ran at recent meets, she said, but she was pleased to beat other runners she knew could challenge her at regional and state.
Fellow senior Mackenzie Russell had the same state focus.
“I think we have a really good chance,” she said. “I was looking at the rankings, and were ranked No. 1 over last year’s state champion (Wichita Trinity). It’s a good sign. If we run well, I think we can win.”’
The girls certainly served notice Saturday. In addition to Dick’s first-place effort, Russell was sixth at 20:28.30, freshman Natalie Beiter earned her first trip to state with a ninth-place effort (20:47.13), junior Daelynn Anderson was 13th (21:01.22), junior Taylor Cawley 14th (21:05.06) and senior Fayth Peterson 15th (21:13.39).
Freshman Jacob Bailey was ninth in the boys race (17:09.52). Also scoring and medaling for the boys were sophomore Parker Wilson (17:29.88) and senior Nevin Dunn (17:37.56). Finishing just out of medal contention but displacing the scores of opposing runners were seniors Jackson Barth (22nd at 17:57.99) and Phillip Carroll (23rd at 17:58.76).
The girls race will start at 11:30 a.m. The two-time defending state champion boys will start their race at 1:30 p.m. Both races are at the Wamego Country Club.
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