Cardinal runners take off
Graff second for girls; Chino second, Burns third for Eudora boys
After several months of logging hundreds of miles in the grueling summer heat, the Eudora High School cross country teams have something to show for their diligence.
But with the thermostat reading a comfortable 77 degrees, the girls and boys cross country teams placed third and fourth, respectively, Thursday in the first meet of the season at the Anderson County Invitational in Garnett.
Coach Paul Boone said he was pleased with the race results and was happy the temperature was relatively mild.
"This year the weather was a little less severe than in the past," Boone said. "It allowed the kids to run more comfortably and allowed for times to be faster."
Present at the race were area rivals Baldwin and De Soto, and both teams made their presence felt. Baldwin placed first in girls and second in boys while De Soto placed second in girls and first in boys.
Although the Cardinals brought home 11 individual medals and one set of team medals, the day was not without disappointment. Brittney Graff ended her seven-meet winning streak, as she placed second in the four-kilometer race, just 19 seconds behind rival Heather Garcia from Baldwin.
Boone said the race was great, and Graff did everything right.
"She ran the strategy we set up," Boone said. "But the top three girls were all state champions, so sometimes stuff like that happens. It's a neat opportunity to have a rival that's running at the same time as you are to keep you going."
Perhaps the biggest improvement from last year came from the boy's squad, as it moved up two places from the same race last year. The stars of the boy's team were easily Joey Chino and Cody Burns, who individually placed second and third, respectively. Chino and Burns also outran each racer from the highly-touted Baldwin and De Soto squads.
Boone said Chino and Burns' level of athleticism was second to none.
"It's been a long time since we've had our guys run in front of Baldwin's first runner," Boone said. "They showed a lot of fortitude to stick with their plan. They really dedicated themselves and have become formidable athletes."
Boone also said the team performed very well as a unit. Each of the girls ran the now 4K race in under 20 minutes and individually Chino had the fifth fastest and Burns had the seventh fastest times in the course's history.
Now the team is setting its sights on the next meet of the season -- the Wamego Invitational which is where the annual state race takes place in October.
Boone said although every race was important, special attention would be paid to this one, as many teams attend the meet.
"It's good for our older kids to revisit the vision of where they want to be in eight weeks," Boone said. "I also want the younger kids to get a feel for the competition at that level -- it's good for them to prepare."
Boone also said this meet allowed for the cross country team to measure where it is and gave the team a taste of what the state meet and course was like.
Last year at the Wamego Invitational, the boys placed 12th as a unit. Boone said he was fairly confident that place would go up this year.
"It's going to take some development for them to come around so we can finish in first place," Boone said. "I'd like for all of them to finish higher but I don't want them to feel too much pressure."
Hopefully, the temperature stays mild for the Wamego meet at 4 p.m. Thursday like it was for the Anderson County race. But regardless if it is hot or nice outside, Boone said the teams would just take the competition in stride and perform to the best of their abilities.
"It's an individual by individual evaluation for each of them, so we're going to take small steps with everybody and hopefully perform well," Boone said.