Archive for Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Hail to old KU

McLouth’s Edmonds signs with Jayhawks in track

April 23, 2003

Lawrence sure is a few miles of asphalt closer for Courtney Edmonds.

The McLouth High senior finally made a decision on her collegiate career last Wednesday in the MHS library, signing a letter of intent to run track and cross country at the University of Kansas.

Edmonds chose KU instead of local schools Wichita State and Benedictine, but also declined a chance to run a long way from home at Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C.

"I told her 'If you run much farther away from us you're going to fall in the ocean,'" said Courtney's mother, Lynn Edmonds.

The campus is just about 9 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

The East Coast school had a great art department -- Edmonds wants to major in art education -- and the Bulldog senior really liked CCU's coach.

But in the end, Edmonds decided on the shortest option distance-wise for the long college road ahead.

Sure, Edmonds also checked out Wichita State, a school with impressive track facilities. Then there was Benedictine, the only school that showed major interest in her basketball skills.

But as Kansas coaches kept making phone calls to Edmonds, she realized that KU was the place she needed to be.

"It was God's way of saying 'Go to KU,'" Edmonds said.

Last week, Edmonds paid heed to the possible divine intervention and that interest coming from about 20 miles down the road.

Edmonds always has wanted to play basketball at Kansas and even has thought about walking on. Now that she's on scholarship for track and cross country, Edmonds said she initially will focus on running. After discussing the notion with track coach Stanley Redwine, she'll decide whether another sport can fit into her schedule.

A week ago in that McLouth library, however, running track and cross country at KU was all she could think about.

The two-time Class 2A state champion in the 800 meters sat before a small crowd of family and friends as she looked at her letter of intent. With track coaches Cory Cole, Gerard Aligo and George Karn looking over the senior and parents Donald and Lynn sitting on both sides, Edmonds signed a piece of paper that has received more notoriety in the last week.

With Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams headed to North Carolina, the topic of whether recruits should be held to a letter of intent if a coach leaves has come into question.

Edmonds took note of the fine print, which stipulates that an athlete is bound to the school, not the coach.

As for the signature on the letter, it belonged to athletics director Al Bohl, who was fired roughly two weeks ago.

"Anybody can put a rubber stamp on a piece of paper," Lynn Edmonds said.

Courtney Edmonds will join a KU team that already has small-town talent on its roster. Cheryl Bergman hails from Class 1A Baileyville B&B, while Halstead's Stacy Keller, Smith Center's Allison Martin and Cheney's Whitney Fasbender all hail from Class 3A schools.

Before enrolling at KU and attending the D-1 institution in the fall, Edmonds still must finish signing her name in the Bulldog record books.

Edmonds, a state cross country participant all four years, took fifth at the state cross country meet as a junior and 26th last fall as a senior when she had to battle mono. In basketball, she set a new McLouth High basketball career scoring record -- for both boys and girls -- with 1,133 points.

And in track, she already has two state gold medals in the 800 and another bronze she earned in the 1,600 at last year's state meet. A state qualifier each year, Edmonds took third in the 800 her freshman season. Edmonds holds the school record in the 400 as well. Basically, the MHS senior has found success with running, whether it be a short 400 meters or a two-mile cross country course.

"If they can make a distance runner out of me, that's cool," Edmonds said.

The McLouth product got the first post-signing taste of her new school Friday with the Kansas Relays. Inside Memorial Stadium, Edmonds competed in an event that rivals the state meet in Wichita.

Now signed on to be a Jayhawk, Edmonds said she was a bit nervous before her first race, but settled down before the 800.

After competing in the 800 the last two years, Edmonds competed in the 400 as well this season. Her sophomore season, she took third in the 800, but on Friday, the 400 was Edmonds' better race. Last year was Edmonds' first season with the one-lap race. At this year's Relays, Edmonds took 10th in the 400, but later struggled in her more familiar race.

Last year Edmonds started too fast and this season didn't come out of the gates quick enough.

"I ran a really bad time," Edmonds said. "I ran a 2:30, which was terrible.

"I got boxed in and tripped up and I was pretty much out of it from there. You can't make up ground in that kind of race with that many talented girls."

When Edmonds runs at Kansas, she likely will have to change some of her techniques. She and another girl were competitors in the 800 not starting from the blocks.

"I kind of felt like a goober because it was me and another girl who didn't use the blocks," Edmonds said.

The high school standout, though, is eager to learn new aspects.

No matter what comes her way with Kansas athletics, Edmonds has her eyes on a degree in art education. If the two come together during her career, so be it, but Edmonds is focused on being an art instructor.

"I'm not becoming a teacher to be a coach," she said.

The days of handling students in a classroom or on a track are a few years down the road. In the meantime, she'll likely be busy year-round -- cross country is in the fall, indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring and summer.

But now that she knows she's a Jayhawk, Edmonds has a little bit of time to unwind.

"I'm so much more stress-free," Edmonds said.

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