Home meet could spark Eudora
Graff wins again as Chino, Burns shine for boys team at Rim Rock race
It hasn't all been easy for the Eudora girls cross country team since placing fourth in last year's Class 4A state cross country meet.
But things could get sweet again fast, coach Paul Boone said. The team's tailored workouts were designed the entire time to have the runners ready for the final meets of the season, and now the Cardinals are excited to show off their skills at their only home meet, Thursday's Eudora Invitational.
"They really are excited," Boone said. "They look forward to this. It's a chance to show people what they do. It's neat to do it in our backyard right where the kids are walking to school every day."
If all goes well, Eudora won't just be showing the fans what they've been working on -- they'll be showing opponents as well. The cross country team -- the girls especially -- last year used the home invitational as a chance to jumpstart a post-season push that carried the team within a blink of a state trophy.
After a season of dueling with and typically finishing behind De Soto's girls, the Cardinals powered past the Cats for a one-point victory in Eudora. A week later, Eudora rode the wave to a regional championship, again besting De Soto and all other comers.
This season, Boone said he's hoping his runners can build similar momentum.
They'll need all they can get as the stakes increase greatly after Thursday's meet. The Frontier League meet is Oct. 12 at Rim Rock. The regional is Oct. 21 and state is Oct. 28.
"Our goal every year at this time is to start to gel," Boone said. "Our plan is to start bearing down and focusing on that individual battle, whether you're up front battling for No. 1, or back in 63rd battling to be No. 62."
Battling for No. 1 will be Brittney Graff, and she will be a favorite to win her fourth-straight meet at 5 p.m. when the girls varsity four-kilometer race starts.
Graff won seven-straight races to close out the 2005 season, grabbing league, regional and state individual championships along the way.
Now she could be in the middle of another such swing. She won on Sept. 16 when the team traveled for the Missouri Southern Stampede, and hasn't looked back, picking up the individual title at the Tonganoxie Invitational and most recently in the Crimson division of the Rim Rock Farms Classic.
Graff won the annual race at Rim Rock for the second-consecutive year, finishing Saturday in 15 minutes, 12 seconds.
"She ran well. She just ran her plan," Boone said. "To be the champion of that race two years in a row and runner up the year before is a neat accomplishment."
Joey Chino continued his strong senior campaign by leading the Cardinal boys team over the course. He finished the five-kilometer course in 17:11, good for third in the boys Blue division race.
"Joey was phenomenal," Boone said. "He ran our all-time best (time) on that course. We're still building miles, so I'd like to think we haven't ran our best races yet."
Cody Burns was seventh in the race with a time of 17:35. Tim DeArmond was 52nd in 19:12. Carlos Canizales was 83rd in 19:54 and Chase Brecheisen was 140th in the 29-school race in 25:50.
Liz Hoese was 94th in the girls race with a time of 18:02 and Lauren Colman was 128th in 18:40.
Not all the times were spectacular at Rim Rock, Boone said, but he said those who ran will have every opportunity Thursday to push the pace even faster in the friendliest of environments, and those who didn't have every opportunity to try again.
"This is our last hurrah before our most critical races of the season and we want to start performing well from top to bottom," Boone said. "We try to keep kids on an even keel in the sense that you're not going to race great in seven or eight meets a year. We just want to race great in the last three. We've done that in the past and we're confident we'll race well at the end."