Runners claim first team title of season
The Eudora Cardinals cross country team earned its first team championship of the year Thursday at the Gardner Invitational. The girls team easily ran away with the meet title and an individual championship. Meanwhile the boys struggled somewhat to a fifth-place finish.
"It was a smaller, lower-key meet compared to the schedule we have kept earlier in the season," head coach Paul Boone said. "It's a good chance to work on specific strategy. We pushed where we needed to and worked on getting a good start. Both teams did a good job of controlling the start and pushing early."
The girls earned 31 points in winning the championship -- their first of the year. It was the Eudora girls' lowest point total since an 18-point performance last year in Wellsville.
The Cards edged Gardner (55) and Tonganoxie (61) for the title.
Anderson County, Louisburg, Prairie View and Santa Fe Trail competed with incomplete squads.
"The girls team ran impressively, taking control early and never looking back," Boone said. "While we have missed our injured runners tremendously, the other girls have stepped into leadership roles and have helped the team pull together.
"Tori (Tunget) and Megan (Ballock) are eager to get back racing. Both rehab workouts are going well and both are anticipated back by league.
"Our kids have been great to work with all season."
Sophomore Brittney Graff won her second gold in as many opportunities. Her time of 12 minutes 41 seconds was a 19-second improvement over a year ago.
Senior Johanna Rahmqvist took the bronze with a strong run of 13:39.
Junior Cara Seats showed a significant 12-second improvement from a year ago. Her 13:54 earned her a proud fourth place.
Freshmen Lauren Colman (14:34) and Katelyn Reese (14:35) followed in 11th and 12th.
Eudora's boys finished with 114 points. Host Gardner, 2003 5A state champs, claimed the top spot with 42 points.
Tonganoxie (51), Anderson County (54), Louisburg (98) and Santa Fe Trail (171) completed the field.
The boys again got strong efforts from sophomores Cody Burns and Tim DeArmond.
Burns took eighth with a solid 18:34 -- a 53-second improvement. DeArmond's 18:43 secured him a ninth-place finish.
Junior Sean Wiard hung around with a 19:42 and a 24th-place finish. His was a 48-second improvement.
Kent Abel (21:37), Andy Schultz (21:52) and Jared Reetz (22:14) brought it home in 36th, 37th and 39th places, respectively. Reetz improved his time by 3:40 compared to a year ago. Abel and Schultz each scored three-second improvements.
"Cody got out well and really pushed hard early in the race," Boone said. "Eighth- and ninth-place finishes in this field with two 4A state qualifiers and last year's 5A state champion is quite impressive.
"Tim is developing a strong racing style coming from the pack in the middle and is showing good time improvements. He was injured during this meet last year.
"Jared has been hampered by an injury but still showed massive improvement over last year. And we had great gains by Sean compared to a year ago."
Now the Cards begin preparing for their final run at a state berth.
"We are training hard this week preparing for league next Thursday and regional the following Saturday," Boone said. "This is what we have worked for all season in the next couple of weeks."
The next opportunity for Eudora is at home.
"They are looking forward to running in front of our home crowd," Boone said. "I am really excited about our home meet, starting and finishing north of the brand new high school. Coach Dan Kuhlman has invested enormous amounts of time and energy helping design, layout, and smooth out the new course.
"Exciting features include a jaunt over Mt. Eudora, a descent into Lake Kobza right before the mile, and a fast and fan-friendly finish around Cardinal Lake. It is a beautiful course and very spectator-friendly."
The middle school race runs at 4 p.m. followed by the junior varsity boys and girls combined race at 4:30 p.m., varsity girls at 5 p.m. and varsity boys at 5:30 p.m. The awards ceremony will close things out at about 6 p.m.