Cardinal girls win again, set their eyes on Class 4A state
As the scores were tallied at the end of the day Friday at Tonganoxie, one thing was exactly as it has been the entire track season. The Cardinal girls sat atop the standings for the eighth time this season with 103 points.
The only thing different for the team this time around was that it capped an undefeated season, something Eudora head coach Phil Katzenmeier had yet to see during his time as a track coach.
"I've never been a part of something like that," he said. "They deserved every title they got this season. They are a talented and hard-working group."
The undefeated season was made even more satisfying as the Tonganoxie regional winners qualified 10 athletes for this weekend's state championships at Wichita.
The freshman 400-meter relay team consisting of Rachel Pyle, Tianna Dunnaway, Alisha Wingebach and Kendal Abel staked a claim to its first appearance at Wichita with a second-place finish.
"They were really excited to qualify," Katzenmeier said. "They worked really hard the entire year for that and they earned it. They'll have to run pretty well at state. Though, the competition's going to be tough."
Freshman Allison Hoover also joined the group of first time state qualifiers with a second-place finish in the pole vault.
Along with the new faces, the girls team will return numerous athletes from last year's team including last year's state 300 hurdles champion, Emily Ballock. The sophomore added another regional title to her already long list of achievements in her young career.
She joins sister Megan Ballock, who qualified in the 400-meter, along with junior Brittney Graff who goes to Wichita in four events.
Graff stepped up at Friday's regional and proceeded to run 3,600 meters in the span of 20 minutes as she took second in the 3,200 and then ran the third leg of the Cardinals' first-place 1,600 relay.
The seemingly daunting task was made possible by a move made late last year.
"We did that late last year and found out she was perfectly capable of doing it," Katzenmeier said. "This year we ran her in the consecutive races earlier in the season and she continued to place. At state she won't be in that position because she'll run those races on different days and she'll be a little fresher for the relay."
The 3,200 relay team captured a state qualification by finishing first with a time of 9 minutes, 41 seconds, which was a regional best by nearly 16 seconds.
In the field, the Cardinals' Carrie Lister improved her state qualifications with medals in three events as opposed to one last year. The senior qualified in the javelin, shot put and discus.
"I felt pretty confident going into the regionals," Lister said. "I knew the competition was going to be pretty tough, but I felt good. I struggled a little in the shot put and could have done a little better. There will be a few things I need to work on, but I think I have a good chance at state. The whole team has a chance to do really well."
With the mix of returning participants and freshmen, the Cardinals look to have more than enough resources to improve their 10th-place finish from a year ago.
"Usually 30 points would be good enough to place higher than tenth," Katzenmeier said. "But this year I think we have the athletes to score more than 30 points. Concordia may be a little tough to overcome for a lot of teams, but I feel like second or third is definitely a possibility."
Perhaps overshadowed by the success of the girls team, two members of the boys team will represent the Cardinals in Wichita as well.
Senior Nolan Smith got the nod in two events, while Cody Burns qualified in the 3,200.
Smith finished fourth in the 200, while taking first in the pole vault to earn his second trip to state in the event.
"I went in a little nervous," Smith said. "But I pushed through all of that and figured I had nothing to lose. Now I just have to work on some things before the state meet and maybe set a personal record for myself."
Girls team standings:
1. Eudora 103; 2. Tonganoxie 95; 3. Baldwin 72
Eudora girls state qualifiers:
Shot put: 3. Carrie Lister, 38-0
Discus: 2. Carrie Lister, 120-9
Javelin: 4. Carrie Lister, 119-2
Pole vault: 2. Allison Hoover, 9-0
300 hurdles: 1. Emily Ballock, 44.0
200: 2. Emily Ballock, 26.4
400: 1. Megan Ballock, 59.2
1,600: 2. Brittney Graff, 5:28.4
3,200: 2. Brittney Graff, 11:53.7
400 relay: 2. Alisha Wingebach, Rachel Pyle, Tianna Dunnaway, Kendal Abel -- 50.8
1,600 relay; 1. Alisha Wingebach, Emily Ballock, Brittney Graff, Megan Ballock -- 4:04.3
3,200 relay: 1. Brittney Graff, Lauren Colman, Emily Ballock, Megan Ballock -- 9:41.5
Eudora boys state qualifiers:
Pole vault: 1. Nolan Smith, 13-0
200: 4. Nolan Smith, 22.8
3,200: 4. Cody Burns, 10:32.5