Girl runners making return trip
The Eudora Cardinals girls cross country team has qualified for state for a second consecutive season. Eudora's girls earned the berth by garnering a third-place finish at the 2004 cross country 4A regional championships Saturday in Tonganoxie.
The Cardinal boys finished a solid eighth out of 15 teams, but it was the girls' night. Megan Ballock qualifies for state for the third time in her three-year career. Brittney Graff, Cara Seats and Tori Tunget qualify for a second time. The next step for the girls is the state meet at noon Saturday in Wamego at the Wamego Country Club.
Baldwin won the girls regional team championship with 38 points. De Soto finished seven points back in second. The Cardinals strong 75 points placed them in third, securing the final state berth.
Graff finished regional runner-up for the second consecutive year. Her 12 minute, 12 second run was the second fastest all-time by a Eudora runner on the Tonganoxie course.
"Brittney continues to race well," coach Paul Boone said. "Seven out of the eight races we have run, she has finished first or second. The neat thing about Brittney is that it is not just about the place, but how well she feels she has raced. She is an intense competitor."
Seats ran a season best 13:01, earning 14th.
"Cara is running outstanding at this point," Boone said. "She was eight seconds off her personal best and is really running smart. She has had some great workouts the last couple of weeks."
Ballock also posted a season best, placing 18th with her 13:11.
"Megan is getting stronger every day and had a strong day at a course where she has traditionally been very successful. The leadership our juniors and Brittney provide is outstanding."
Johanna Rahmqvist took 21st with a 13:24.
"Johanna was disappointed in her time, but has done so much for our team all season," Boone said. "This is her first experience with a team qualifying for state, so the significance probably won't sink in until later."
Lauren Colman (13:41) and Katelyn Reese (13:50) crossed in 24th and 28th, respectively.
"Katelyn and Lauren are finding out what an honor this is to qualify for state," Boone said. "They still have their best races ahead. Both of them are continuing to improve in their race strategy. They are a lot of fun to have around."
And Tunget placed 55th with another season-best time of 15:02.
"Tori ran a season best and continues to heal," Boone said. "She is racing more aggressively during the race than she did at the beginning of the season. Her times are a big part of our 1-7 improvement."
Baldwin completed the regional sweep claiming the boys title as well with 26 points. De Soto boys also matched their female counterparts, earning silver with 80 points and Anderson County took the coveted third spot with 106 points. The Bulldogs just edged host Tonganoxie, which finished with 123.
Cody Burns was the top Cardinal runner on the boy's side. Burns' 18:13 earned him a strong 18th-place finish, a heartbreaking two seconds short of qualifying individually.
"It's tough, but Cody will not make any excuses," Boone said. "He has raised his level a notch from last year and has made himself into a quality runner. He was really motivated last summer to get better, and I have no doubt that this disappointment will motivate him even more. I'm proud of the progress he has made in a year."
Tim DeArmond wasn't far behind, placing 21st with a time of 18:30.
"Tim has also made strides in becoming a varsity-level runner," Boone said. "He wasn't real happy with his start, but he came on in the third mile. At regionals, you cannot lose contact with that top pack and be able to advance. Tim was 19 seconds from earning a state spot as an individual.
"He was very consistent this year."
Sean Wiard placed 47th with 19:45. Kent Abel set a personal record with 20:35. Abel crossed in 61st. Jared Reetz also posted a personal record crossing in 20:49, good enough for 63rd and Andy Schultz ran a season-best 21:10, placing 73rd.