Cards hoping for the best in first ‘06 race
The Eudora High School cross country team has some pretty high expectations to fulfill.
The Kansas Cross Country Coaches Association released its annual preseason rankings, and coaches across the state appear to think highly of the Cardinals.
In the Class 4A division, the girls' team was ranked at sixth place with 35 points while the boys squad collected enough votes to place 12th.
But coach Paul Boone said he did not let the team's preseason ranking affect him or make him nervous about maintaining the team's rankings, because that was not what cross country was about.
"It's really an individual sport," Boone said. "We try to focus on ourselves and our personal performance. We zero in on a race, not the racers."
Regardless of what the Kansas cross country coaches are expecting for Eudora this season, the Cardinals hope to capitalize on their first opportunity to prove they should be recognized as a team to be feared. The Cardinals are set to run their first race at 4 p.m. Thursday at Anderson County.
Last year at the Anderson County race, the girl's team brought home third place with 53 points, just 11 points shy of first.
Star Brittney Graff easily secured an individual third-place medal for her time of 12 minutes, 45 seconds in the two-mile run. The boys also received sixth place as a team.
Boone said the team had the ability to surpass last year's decent finishes, but the heat may make it somewhat challenging.
But even that can be overcome, he said.
"Physical conditioning is a big part, but mentally you have to tell yourself that irregardless of the condition, you will do well ? they won't get swept up in what they can't control," Boone said.
Senior Cody Burns said he was very excited about the first meet of the season and had no doubt the team would perform well. He said this race would be the culmination of all the miles the team collectively logged during the summer.
As for Graff, Boone said he expected a more-than-adequate performance from her at the Anderson County race.
"She's another year older and another year stronger," Boone said. "She's performed well in races and she'll continue to perform well in races. But she has raced so much that she doesn't get swept away in her successes."
While a first-place medal from Anderson County won't make much of a wave in Graff's medal collection -- she won the Class 4A cross country title a year ago -- she still has a lot to race for. She has won seven-straight cross country races dating back to early last season.
Boone said the team was ready for the meet and to show everyone what it was made of.
"We are pushing our limits and have some bumps and bruises," Boone said. "But if you want to be a good team, you have to be in a good mood. We are in a good mood."