Baldwin sweeps regional meet; THS boys finish second
The champs haven't really lost a step.
Sure, Baldwin graduated some of its top runners last year, but the four-time defending state champion scored in its usual spot.
The Bulldogs took first in Saturday's 4A boys cross country regional in Tonganoxie, scoring 27 points. Tonganoxie took a distant second with 55, while Mill Valley was third with 61.
Despite Mill Valley's win at the Kaw Valley League Meet on Oct. 17, the Chieftains appeared to be the favorite on their home course.
THS had a full and healthy team for the first time in a few weeks, and this year's Baldwin squad was without three of its top runners from last year, including Matt Noonan and Eric Black.
But the Bulldogs won convincingly at regionals, thanks to sophomore Zac Towns and freshman Keith Cowart. The tandem finished second and third respectively behind Mill Valley's Jay Matlack, who finished the course in 15 minutes, 59.42 seconds.
Baldwin's Phil Wagner was fifth and Brian Gerstner was seventh, while Edd Stansberry rounded out the Bulldogs' top five in 11th.
The Baldwin boys found their best performances on the heels of two young runners.
Towns didn't even place at state last year, while Cowart is in his first year of high school cross country.
Baldwin's domination baffled some Chieftains.
"I don't think we realized how good their top five was going to be," Norris said.
Senior Tony Aligo concurred.
"They had a great run today," Aligo said Saturday after finishing sixth with a 16:52.76 time.
Kyle Norris, who was fourth with a 16:45 time, also noted that the Chieftains weren't ready for Baldwin, or Saturday's cooler temperatures.
"I don't think we came prepared for the cold weather," he said.
Although Norris, Powell and Aligo have been to state, the other four Chieftain runners will be making their first appearances. Corey Brest, Andy Kolman, Levi Huseman and Matt Chenoweth finished 20th, 23rd, 33rd and 38th respectively at regionals.
The boys will run at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Korb, Helm headed to Wamego
Tonganoxie's Laura Korb will make her fourth and final trip to the state meet Saturday. The senior finished seventh at regionals Saturday with a 12:40.08 time.
The home course provided a soggy terrain, but Korb said longer spikes helped her advance to state.
"It definitely helped using the longer spikes," Korb said, who has run with shorter spikes throughout this season.
Along with less traction, runners also had to deal with the colder air.
"It made it hard to run because it freezes your lungs," Korb said.
Whatever the temperature, Korb would like nothing more than to place high at Wamego. Getting in the top 10 is a goal, but her best finish was her freshman year when she finished in fifth place.
"I'd like to do fifth again," Korb said.
Korb will be joined by a Chieftain making her first state appearance. Junior Heather Helm finished regionals 16th with a 13:25.41 time.