Runners up, up early for regional
Students around Eudora were sleeping or possibly just awakening at 6 a.m. Monday morning when eight members of the Eudora High School cross country team examined their next challenge the Ottawa 4A regional championship course.
"We looked the course over and reviewed it," Head Coach Paul Boone said. "We want to visualize it and not give in to the temptation of getting out too fast."
Senior Jill Abel competed at Ottawa last season and says she is well aware of the challenges that the Cardinals will face on Saturday.
"It's the toughest course we've ever run on," Abel said. "I told (the rest of the team) that it is really hilly and they can't let up on the hills or you'll get passed by other runners."
Boone is hoping that the Cardinals boys' team will reach its long term goal of qualifying for the 4A State championship meet at Wamego Oct. 27. The top three teams at the 16-team regional meet at Ottawa will qualify for the 4A state championship meet. The top 10 individual runners at Ottawa will also qualify for the state meet. In addition, if the top 10 runners are on one of the top three teams, the next five runners who aren't on a team go to Wamego. Boone knows the road to Wamego goes through Ottawa and he considers the regional course more difficult than the state meet. The Ottawa meet will feature solid contenders like defending 4A state champion Baldwin, Anderson County, Iola and Mill Valley.
"It is a really challenging course and it is tougher than Wamego with hills coming at some tough places," Boone said. "We can compete with the rest of those guys but Baldwin and Anderson County are heads above everyone else. We have a decent chance to get to state if everyone brings their 'A' game."
All-Frontier League runners Abel and sophomore Tighe VanAnne as well as junior Andy Besser have the best chances of individually qualifying for the state meet. The Cardinals placed fifth out of eight teams at Thursday's Frontier League Meet in Gardner. Baldwin won the meet with 27 points followed by 5A Gardner-Edgerton, 67, Anderson County, 73, Wellsville, 103, Eudora, 150, Paola 157, Louisburg, 188, and Spring Hill, 197.
"We ran pretty well but I still think we could run better," Boone said. "We hadn't consistently beaten Louisburg or Spring Hill. Gardner is a twisty up and down one lane course where you throw the times out the window and compete."
VanAnne led all Cardinal runners with a 10th place out of 78 runners. The 18:30 finish led to his being selected for the All-Frontier League team in his first year of cross country.
Juniors Besser and James Barr placed 25th (19:14) and 35th (20:00) respectively while freshman William Rodriguez continued to make strived with a 20:10 39th place performance. Sophomore Jeff Jones finished a second behind Rodriguez in 41st place while junior Austin Roberts ran a 21:46 for 50th place and sophomore Ian Mater placed 56th with a time of 22:17. Boone said junior John Thoennes and freshman Scot Mullis, both of whom enjoyed success at the junior varsity level, will join the varsity squad on Saturday at Ottawa.
On the girls' side, senior Jill Abel placed 13th at 14:14 while senior Rhiannon Tiner finished 44th with a time of 16:12. Senior Estelle Montgomery missed the meet with an illness but will return for the Ottawa meet on Saturday. Tiner will not race on Saturday because of an injury.
Boone said the team is determined to compete at the regional meet and hopefully will be making the trip west on I-70 as a collective unit.
"This is the phase of the season to sharpen up," Boone said. "We need to go in thinking positively and be focused."