Re-run fine by track team
The season ended with Eudora Cardinals crowding on to the trophy stand, the girls track team accepting a runners-up trophy at the Class 4A state track meet for the second consecutive season.
Does it get much better than that?
Maybe, Eudora track and field coach Phil Katzenmeier said. The Eudora girls team capped off another stunning season with a slew of school record performances at the state meet, and many of the gears that powered that machine will be back, hopefully better than ever in 2008, Katzenmeier said.
"This year we had a wonderful bunch of kids, and they really performed well," Katzenmeir said. "We haven't had very many seniors graduate recently, and we have good depth and quality. They're just great kids."
Nothing's going to be easy, that's for sure. Eudora will lose several core elements of its track team to graduation this offseason.
Brittney Graff accumulated more accolades in her years on the track team that this paper has ink to describe all over again. Most recently, she ran in four events at the state track meet for her second consecutive season, finishing second in both the 3,200-meter run and the 1,600. Her 3,200, while second in 4A, would have won any other classification this year and remains the 17th fastest time ever run at state by a girl in any class.
The team will also lose the backbone of the boys team, distance runners Cody Burns and Joey Chino. Both Burns and Chino just missed with their state bids this season. Burns qualified in the 3,200 last season and both have been reliable scorers all season.
"Last year Cody Burns was out main guy," Katzenmeier said. "Then what Brittney did at the state meet, that was great. There have only been 16 girls ever in the state of Kansas run a 3,200 faster than Brittney."
The losses leave concerning holes, but there's a heck of a lot to be excited about, too.
Emily Ballock will return as a senior and attempt to claim an unprecedented fourth state title in the 300 hurdles. She'll also push to make state in four events again, looking to build on her medals in the 100 hurdles, the 1,600 relay and the 200.
Joining Ballock will be many of the same faces which pushed onto the trophy stand, faces currently most easily associated with the 400 relay.
That's something that began to change this season, and should continue to do so next, Katzenmeier said. Returning as juniors, Kendal Abel, Alisha Wingebach, Tianna Dunnaway and Rachel Pyle don't have much room to improve on their relay -- they were second at state in 2007 -- but each should continue to play a greater role in other events.
Dunnaway and Wingebach each ran at state in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays, medaling in the 1,600. Wingebach was maxed out, running in four events at the meet by qualifying in the 100, though she just missed qualifying for finals.
"Their role as team leaders and their role as point scorers in other events will grow," Katzenmeier said.
While it will be mostly the same faces representing the girls in a year, it might be a mostly new crew for the boys team.
Justin Ballock qualified for state in both the hurdles races, and surged to finish second in the 300 hurdles in only his freshman season.
"Justin was the only freshman in the 300 hurdles," Katzenmeier said. "That speaks volumes. Both the 300 and the 100 hurdles are very difficult events for freshman boys because the heights jump up from junior high.
"For him to do as well as he did is exciting."
Representing the boys won't all be on Ballock, next year, however.
"Like the girls, we had a very solid sophomore boys class this year," Katznemeier said. "As those guys develop in the next years, we'll be solid for the boys."