Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Fly Route

May 18, 2006

With all the hoopla involved in the Eudora boys baseball team qualifying for the state tournament, I almost forgot what I had planned on writing this column about.

Honestly it's a little bit easy to lose the Eudora girls track team in all of this. They've been good all year. They're better this year than they were last, but they were good all last year too.

Simply, it's no surprise when they rattle off wins and set school and meet records.

That doesn't make the accomplishments any less impressive, however, and watching the Lady Cardinals at Thursday's Frontier League track meet in Paola, I was very impressed.

The track team has held its opponents down all season like a big brother dunking his smaller sibling at the swimming pool. The team hops on early, then just pushes and pushes until the opponents stop squirming, or in the track team's case, the opponents are so far behind they can barely be seen.

In no athlete is the attitude and pure dominance of the team more personified than in sophomore Emily Ballock.

Ballock doesn't look like a top-tier hurdler. Maybe I'd buy she could be a state-level athlete, but when she runs, she quickly leaves any misperception in the dust.

Thursday Ballock beat the Frontier League the way she beat opponents all season. She won three events by herself and helped a relay team win a fourth.

And just like the rest of her track team, she did so in a big, big way. For example, Ballock didn't just win the 100-meter hurdles. She won by at least a hurdle.

Races at this level and in this league -- typically very competitive -- are never so easily decided. Ballock often appears as if she could trip over a hurdle or do a cartwheel across the finish line and still have time to crack a Gatorade and start eating a sandwich before her opponents cross.

The 300 hurdles are little different. The 300 is a very, very tough race as track races go. It forces athletes to run about the maximum distance one can sprint all the while jumping over hurdles.

There's a reason it seems like more than half of the hurdles on the home stretch are plowed through rather than leaped over.

But despite competing in the full load of events, Ballock didn't even blink when confronting the distance at the league meet.

All season long the girls track team has carried that attitude into every meet, and every time they've walked out big winners.

They didn't win the Frontier League meet. They won by 23 points. That means a descent number of Eudora's top athletes could have taken the day off and the Cards still likely would have won.

Don't look for that attitude or that result to change any time soon. The girls next take their tour-de-punishment to Tonganoxie for the regional meet and once a healthy crop of Cardinals qualify for state -- which they surely will -- they'll head south and have a serious shot at claiming a state title.

One opposing coach commented nearly two months ago that Eudora was the favorite to win it all and the Cardinals have done nothing to prove him wrong.

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