Girls take Wellsville Invite, first title since 2005
Eudora senior Emily Ballock chugged down the home stretch, a hard week's worth of practice taking its full toll as she labored toward the finish line.
One hundred fifty yards from that line, she lost the race, falling behind Maurissa Shaffer of Louisburg and capping a powerful individual performance with a disappointing final few moments.
The day was anything but a failure, however -- for both Ballock and the Eudora cross country team.
Ballock collected her highest ever finish in a varsity cross country race, but was outshone by the team effort. Eudora girls team won the team championship at the Wellsville Invitational and the boys finished third.
"We are so excited about our first-place finish," junior Liz Hoese said. "It seemed a lot harder than (last week's) race at Wamego. We were a little disappointed in our race times, but it was good to win."
The girls team, trying this season to qualify for its sixth consecutive state cross country meet, won its first team title since it captured its 2005 Class 4A regional.
The recipe for the team's best day in so long was consistency through the Cardinals' top five runners.
Ballock led the way, for the whole field for much of the race and for the Cardinals as a team. She leapt to the front of the pack in the mad dash from the starting line and maintained a lead into the race's final gasps, stretching it to 20 yards midway through the four-kilometer course.
Shaffer made up ground over the last quarter mile, however, and caught a spent Ballock as the pair prepared to turn for the final dash to the end. The third-year cross country standout was second in the race, finishing with a time of 17 minutes, one second.
"We're not quite as fresh as we need to be, but we're getting there," Eudora coach Paul Boone said.
Ballock's race headlined the event, but the team's victory came as her teammates filed in behind her.
Eudora easily handled the seven-team, 48-runner field. Lauren Colman was the Cardinals' second runner to finish, crossing in fifth place, 32 seconds behind her teammate. Hoese was right behind Colman, finishing eighth in 17:40
"Lauren had a great race," Boone said. "That's exciting for her. Last week she came back from a little adversity and ran really well."
Eudora's Cathrine Weyde, an exchange student, was the fourth Eudora runner, finishing 12th at 18:39; Bre Miller was 15th at 18:50 and Molly Burton was 22nd at 19:42.
It all added up to an easy win -- the Cardinals finished with 42 points, ahead of second-place Louisburg's 61 and third-place Jayhawk Linn's 91.
"For the girls to come in and win the meet, that's not anything to take for granted," Boone said. "They feel good about it, and they should. They've been working hard.
"We always want to do well, but our biggest goal isn't to win every meet. We want to be competitive, but we got done want we wanted to get done this week."
The boys team wasn't able to generate the same level of success, but it too walked off the course having banked its best performance of the season.
The boys were led by freshmen Juan Ramirez and Ivan Espinosa. Ramirez was third in the five-kilometer race with a time of 18:11. Espinosa was 20 seconds behind him in fourth.
"Our first two guys, Ivan and Juan, ran really close to their personal bests," Boone said.
The Cardinals also collected good races from Zac Courter, 15th in 20:06, and John Hadle, 16th in 20:14. Chase Brecheisen was 30th in the six-team, 40-runner race, with a time of 21:35.
"Zac ran really well," Boone said. "The key with Zac is he's so eager and aggressive, we've had to pull him back or he'd go out too hard."
Eudora finished with 68 points, eight behind Central Heights and 18 back of Osawatomie. Burlington was fourth with 113, Spring Hill fifth with 122 and Wellsville was sixth with 123.
"We are where we need to be," Boone said. "This group of kids is just so teachable. We're taking it step by step, enjoying where we're at and I'm pleased with how we're doing."
The team returns to action Thursday at it travels to Tonganoxie.