Girls run to seventh-place finish
The 2004 Eudora Cardinals girls cross country team crossed the season's final finish line Saturday at the 4A state cross county meet in Wamego.
Eudora's girls qualified for the state meet with an impressive third-place regional finish last week. The Cardinal girls placed seventh at Wamego Saturday. The finish was one spot higher than a year ago.
"I hope for the kids that they will understand what they have achieved and, more than that, understand why it means so much," coach Paul Boone said. "It took a lot to get there. If it were easy, running state wouldn't hold the same value as it does."
The state experience is a multi-sensory affair for the Cardinal coach.
"I always love the feel of state week," Boone said. "The fall leaves and the cool weather help it take on a special feeling, mixed with the excitement of racing against the best there is in Kansas.
"State cross country is such a beautiful place to be. It is the next best thing to the Kansas state track meet. The crowds are so knowledgeable and appreciative of the mental and physical strength it takes to do this sport.
"The fact that this day and place is the culmination of our sweat and dreams from the beginning of summer at cross country camp makes the whole experience hold incredible emotions."
Clay Center took the girls state championship with 70 points. Baldwin won a tie-breaker with Clearwater, earning the Bulldogs the silver. Both teams finished with a strong 89 points.
Eudora took seventh with 159 points. Colby finished just three points ahead with 156 in sixth. And host Wamego finished just eight points back of the Cards in seventh with 167.
"The girls were focused on racing better than they did at Wamego earlier in the year," Boone said. "In the same sense we were realistic. In cross country, we peak for state, but we still run our race. You have to stay within yourself as a runner while still pushing the limits of what your talent and training allow you to do.
"And we ran steady at state with solid performances across the board. None of our scorers blew up. Team-wise we beat a couple of teams we hadn't beaten all season in De Soto and Wamego. Both are great programs and have been tough competition, so our girls feel good about that.
"We still aren't ecstatic about seventh though. They're hungry to do more, especially when they saw we were only nine points out of fifth."
Eudora's sophomore Brittney Graff earned all-state honors. Graff finished sixth with a time of 12 minutes, 30 seconds. It was the second-best effort all-time for a Eudora runner on the Wamego course.
Cara Seats, peaking down the stretch, placed 38th with a solid 13:19.
Megan Ballock, still rebounding from a lengthy lay-off with mononucleosis, posted a 13:34 and a 47th-place finish.
Johanna Rahmqvist completed her inaugural Cardinal campaign with a 53rd-place finish, running a time of 13:40.
Freshmen Katelyn Reese and Lauren Colman finished with strong rookie efforts as well. Reese ran a time of 13:59, crossing in 70th. Colman's 14:20 earned her an 81st-place finish.
And Tori Tunget took 101st with her 16:41.
It was Eudora's best 1-to-5 time gap of the season -- 1:29.
The 1-to-7 gap, however, was a far cry from the season's best posted last week at regionals (2:50). The girls' state gap sat at 4:11.
"Brittney finished sixth -- what an outstanding year," Boone said. "She raced against some tough competitors and never finished lower than sixth in any of the nine races, but like a true competitor is only looking ahead at those who finished in front of her.
"Our middle pack of Cara, Megan and Johanna were solid once again. They have traded off positions throughout the year, but have always competed hard. Our freshmen are no longer freshmen. They have had a full season of competition and are race-hardened veterans now. Katelyn and Lauren have been so important to the team.
"Tori would admit this wasn't her best race, but racing through adversity is part of the game. Every runner is important on the team; that is why you run as a team. Not every team member gets a personal best every race, so the rest of the team is there to help them out."
Baldwin won the boys championship for an incredible seventh-consecutive season. The Bulldogs ran away with the championship posting a mere 41 points. Clearwater finished second with 84 points. Wamego took the bronze with 119.
Eudora neighbor and Frontier League rival De Soto took seventh with 179. Another familiar foe, Anderson County, finished 10th with its 226.