Senior runner raises the Barr at Rim Rock
Eudora High School senior James Barr remembers his first trip to Wamego for the class 4A state championship cross country meet.
Three years ago, the Cardinals placed third at regionals and qualified for the state meet. As a freshman, Barr was one of five runners to qualify for state.
"That was pretty exciting," Barr said. "It would be a lot better to go as a team. But (it's OK) if I can make it as an individual."
Since his freshman year, Barr earned a trip to the state track and field meet as a member of the 400 meter relay team in 2001 and the 400 and the 1,600 relays last spring.
Last Saturday, Barr, 18:55, was the Cardinals' top finisher at the Frontier League meet at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence. With a 19th-place finish, Barr earned honorable mention all-Frontier League for the first time in his four-year varsity career.
"Last time I ran it I didn't like it, but this time I did," Barr said of Rim Rock. "I knew what to expect because I had a little experience on it."
Senior Andy Besser, who ran at the class 3A state meet during his sophomore year at Oskaloosa, finished 22nd, 19:04.
Eudora High School cross country coach Paul Boone said both Barr and Besser had a good chance to make a final trip to Wamego as seniors.
"They run a good race and they're in," he said.
Senior Austin Roberts, 20:22 and 43rd, enjoyed his best race of the season, Boone said. Sophomore Scot Mullis, 20:47, and freshman Sean Wiard, placed 51st and 58th, respectively.
The team repeated last year's fifth-place finish at the league meet despite losing several runners to the new soccer program.
"As a team, we've really come together," Barr said. "The team has been going and placing well in meets we didn't think we'd have a chance in."
Perennial league power Baldwin won the meet with 32 points, followed by Gardner-Edgerton, 63, Anderson County, 68, Wellsville, 103, and Eudora, 161.
The Cards finished ahead of Louisburg, 182, Paola, 202, Spring Hill, 202, and Osawatomie, 208.
Barr said he's considering running cross country at either Baker or Kansas University.
"We've got a really tough regional," Barr said. "I'd like to make it to state, and I think I've got a shot. Tonganoxie is a good course to get a good time on."
Freshman standout Megan Ballock is also a big fan of the Tonganoxie course. Ballock, who usually places in the top eight, finished second at Tonganoxie earlier this season and said its her favorite course.
Last Saturday, Ballock, who finished sixth out of 65 runners with a time of 13:36, became the first Eudora girls freshman to make all-Frontier League since Jessa Stein in 1995.
"She (Ballock) ran a tremendous race," Boone said. "She got out conservative and stuck with the race strategy. When she came around to the last steep hill, she was catching people."
Sophomore Jacqueline Pyle, 15:50, placed 31st as the girls only other runner Saturday.
Boone said the Cards would be ready to race in the regionals Saturday afternoon at Tonganoxie. He said he expected Ballock to qualify for the state meet and the boys' team may have a decent chance as well.
"Our guys have as good a chance as seven or eight other guys (teams)," Boone said.