Ballock medals at state
Ramirez overcomes major loss to finish 21st
Eudora senior Emily Ballock came home from Saturday's Class 4A state cross country championship with a goal accomplished.
Freshman Juan Ramirez came back with one heck of a story.
For both, as well as the six other runners that assisted the girls team to a 10th-place finish, it was a successful day.
Ballock won her first state cross country medal, capping a year in which she led the team in every race despite splitting practice time between running and cheerleading.
"I felt really good," Ballock said. "That was key in these races with so many people."
The senior track star was 17th in the race, finishing the four-kilometer course in sixteen minutes, 42 seconds.
Earning a medal was the goal the whole way, she said, but amidst the hoopla of the 101 runners and their legions of flocking fans, determining where exactly she was or needed to be wasn't always easy.
"I wanted top 20. I was at about 14th and three girls passed me, so I started sprinting," she said. "At the beginning I was around 30th. With about 800 meters left everyone was telling the girls around me where we were. I didn't even realize I was in the top 20 until then."
Ramirez, meanwhile, had to wait for his fate. Unsure of his placing, he waited through the medal ceremony hoping to have earned on at No. 20.
He was just short, finishing 21st on the five-kilometer course with a time of 17:40.
"At the beginning it hit me 'This is the best of the best,'" Ramirez said. "I started to get nervous, but I got by that and on the starting line I focused in.
"I really wanted to get into the top 20 so I could be on the school's Wall of Fame. I was just one place away. It was the most disappointing thing ever."
Ramirez, running in the biggest race of his career, came away with a pretty good excuse for his performance, however -- as if he needed one.
He lost his right shoe in the race's first mile and had to continue on without it.
"I got stepped on in the beginning," Ramirez said. "Some guy got close behind me and spiked me. It took off my shoe.
"I wanted to turn around and hurt somebody."
The handicap obviously didn't effect Ramirez too much -- his time was an astonishing 25 seconds faster than it was the week before when he qualified for state.
Running a shoe down did have its drawbacks, however.
For instance, the state meet trail went up and down the green hills of the well-maintained Wamego Country Club golf course. That doesn't mean every step came in plush grass. Rather Ramirez had to cut his own course, often drifting to one side of the pack or another, at times even taking the longer way -- anything to avoid hard sidewalks or rocks.
"Especially the part with the rocks," he said, pausing, "it hurt. It really hurt.
"After the race I could barely walk."
The rest of the girls team finished its fifth consecutive state tournament appearance in 10th place. The girls didn't exactly have the races they'd envisioned -- they'd hoped to crack the top five.
It wasn't all bad, however.
"We didn't do as well as we wanted to, but we all tried our best and we want to come back next year," junior Liz Hoese said. "It was a tough course."
Senior Lauren Colman was the team's second runner to cross, finishing her final high school cross country race in 38th place at 16:58.
Hoese was behind her, finishing in 66th in 17:38.
"My foot's been injured, so I just came off that and didn't do as well as I'd wanted to," Hoese said.
Freshman Kaya Riemann was 82nd in 18:14; Bre Miller 85th in 18:18; Stephanie Hoese 96th in 18:43 and Molly Brunton 97th in 19:58.
"We didn't do as well as we could have," Ballock said. "Some of the girls felt like they didn't have the best races and that they were struggling throughout."