Chino, Burns medal at state meet
Eudora senior Cody Burns was upfront with his frustration -- his senior cross country season didn't go nearly as well as he would have liked.
An inspired race at the Wamego Country Club golf course capped by a gut-wrenching sprint toward the finish line changed all of that, however. Burns passed one runner and edged another by no more than a blink to achieve his goal of a medal at Saturday's Class 4A state cross country meet.
Fellow senior Joey Chino saw his dreams of an individual state championship lost, finishing fourth, but Burns' mad dash toward the tape ensured both Cardinal boys that ran in the race would be bringing home a medal.
"The course was tough this year for some reason," said Burns, who was 19th in the field of 101 runners. "The season wasn't quite what I wanted, but this was a great way to end it off."
Chino, meanwhile, said he'd have to learn to be happy with his amazing season rather than his finish at state. A 2006 championship seemed impossible for the mild-mannered first-year runner last season, when he finished 65th at the state meet. It seemed improbable when he began the season and it even seemed unlikely when he finished second at the Oct. 12 league meet.
But Chino completed his transformation from pack-runner to title contender by winning the regional meet by seven seconds.
It appeared at times throughout Saturday's race that he might carry that momentum into a state title, as well. Chino started out the same place he's spent most of the season -- in the lead group. He appeared to be on the verge of a move midway through the race.
He pushed past the other five runners at the head of the long line of contestants near the midway point in the race, but his lead never grew to more than a few steps and Chino said as the course pushed up one of the final hills, the eventual champion -- Andrew Wagner of El Dorado -- powered past all of the top runners.
Wagner broke away for a five-second victory.
Chino wasn't far behind. He came in behind runner-up Chris Elniff of Baldwin, whom Chino had defeated a week earlier, and Jeb Flynn of Abilene. He finished the five-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 11 seconds -- nine ticks out of first and three out of third.
"I'm not even close to happy," Chino said. "I've been under 17 minutes before, and I wanted to be again. The course seemed a little longer and there were some changes. Fourth overall is pretty good, but I got passed at the very end."
As for Burns, he said his race roughly mirrored his season -- disappointment salvaged by an incredible finish.
He started out fast and was well within the top 20 spots that were awarded medals, but he slipped further and further back as the race went on.
"I was hanging around 15th, but then slipped below 20th," he said. "In the last 100 meters I caught two guys. I wanted to run the first mile easier, then push up from there, but that didn't work out.
"I got all excited and everyone was screaming."
Burns improved on 2005 in both place and time. He was 50th a year ago, and his 17:55 time was seven seconds better than last season's.
El Dorado won the meet with 63 points, knocking off eight-time defending champion Baldwin, which finished with 70 points, and De Soto, which had 94.