Archive for Thursday, November 8, 2007

Big plans

Eudora boys squad hopes for more in ‘08

November 8, 2007

If all goes according to plan next season, there could be a difference of opinion concerning the Eudora boys cross country team.

Returning every member of its young squad next fall, the boys have dreams of emerging from the shadow of the girls program, of shaking things up in a highly competitive Frontier League. They have dreams of qualifying the entire team for the state meet.

If that were to happen, the consensus would be the groundwork was laid in 2007.

The easy event to point to was freshmen Juan Ramirez and Ivan Espinosa joining the team, a pair of talented young runners that led the Cardinals all season.

But, if the dreams are realized, it'll go deeper than that.

"They all turned the corner, especially running a strong league race and coming back to run a strong regional," Eudora coach Paul Boone said, not just of his two newest additions to the team, but of all seven varsity runners. "This group of guys, the one neat thing about them is they've had really good effort and great attitudes. The one thing missing is a little confidence they can do it."

The proof won't come for nearly nine months, but the confidence may have arrived in the final two races of the season.

The boys were fifth at both league and regionals. It was a far cry from qualifying for state -- the Cardinals were 69 points shy of third-place Paola at regionals -- but was a step up in competitiveness from earlier in the season.

Juniors Colby Root and Chase Brecheisen, sophomores John Hadle and Zack Courter and freshman Danny Bruning joined Ramirez and Espinosa at regionals and could be the key to pushing the boys' season one week longer next year.

"One thing was just getting in their heads they can compete at this level," Boone said. "It took seeing themselves as being the varsity boys.

"Now they have to go do it in the offseason. They have a chance to put themselves in a spot. They have to keep achieving, though -- they don't hand out state berths to just anyone."

Ramirez was the only boy to qualify as an individual, going on to finish 21st at state. He was eighth at regionals after overcoming a nagging late-season injury.

Espinosa was 23rd at regionals, but 12th at league where he garnered second-team all Frontier League honors.

"They had a tremendous impact," Boone said of the top pair. "Those guys didn't back down from any challenge. They've been really fun to work with and eager to compete. Those guys are in it to win."

The girls, meanwhile, just hope to repeat their 2007 success in 2008.

It too will take a long offseason of hard work, Boone said, though that won't come as much of a surprise. It's that same kind of work ethic that helped the girls to their fifth consecutive team bid to the state championship meet.

"They just stepped it up and took it to the next level," Boone said of the girls team. "They performed better all the way across the board.

"That's fun. In the past we've talked about our guys sneaking up on people, but our girls were in that boat this year."

Competing in the same league and region as the teams that went on to finish No. 1 and No. 2 at state, Eudora's margin of error was incredibly slim if it hoped to keep its streak alive.

It did just that thanks first to the summer's efforts led by Liz Hoese, Lauren Colman and Bre Miller, and second to a early-season present shipped over from the Eudora school board.

I was really proud of those girls," Boone said. "They really put a commitment in during the offseason. We had a solid core make a commitment to step up during the summer and do something."

Senior Emily Ballock -- a cross country regular as a sophomore and a junior who opted for cheerleading in the fall -- was initially not allowed to run as students can only participate in one athletic activity per season.

Once cleared by the board, she helped lead the team, earning second-team all league honors and her first state medal with a 17th place finish.

"We have kids that are high functioning kids that can handle many things, and she did," Boone said. "She represented the school in a positive manner and I appreciated her attitude toward everything that went on. She showed a lot of maturity."

Ballock is one of two seniors leaving the program. Colman also will graduate after having finished 38th at state.

The team does return two juniors in Miller and Hoese, two sophomores in Molly Brunton and Hannah Pittman, and two freshmen in Kaya Riemann and Stephanie Hoese.

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