By Jimmy Gillispie
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Only one thing was certain as runners began crossing the finish line at the Baldwin City Golf Course.
It was that Piper High School junior Grace Hanson was the winner, and that wasn’t even close. She won her third Frontier League meet in as many tries.
Hanson led the race from the beginning and never looked back as she left the competition behind. Her winning time was 18:28.66 – more than a minute ahead of Eudora’s Hanna Keltner, who finished runner-up as a freshman.
The team competition on the girls side of the meet was much more competitive. In fact, it came down a single point between the top two ranked teams in Class 4A.
In the end, it was Eudora winning the league crown for the third-consecutive year. The Cardinals, who are ranked No. 1 in 4A, scored 44 points to beat rival Baldwin by one point.
“It probably wasn’t our best performance or race this year, but it just happened to be good enough today,” Eudora coach Jim Barnard said. “Sometimes, that’s what happens – you’re just good enough. We have some learning experiences from the race here today when we go down and kind of break it down together, talking about where we can improve and get better. It was a good effort. We are happy to win, but know our best race is still ahead of us.”
Following Keltner across the finish line for Eudora were sophomore Sydney Owens (5th, 20:11.17), junior Phoebe Fletcher (7th, 20:17.89), senior Stella Whalen (13th, 20:51.84) and senior Mackenzie Mayer (18th, 21:29.74) to round out the team scoring.
Senior Maya Pattison finished one spot behind Mayer for the Cardinals. She would have given Eudora the team victory if there was a tie.
Baldwin was once again led by senior Riley Smith. She finished fourth in a time of 20:04.48. Completing the scoring for the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs were senior Jana Landreth (6th, 20:16.43), sophomore Lily Brecheisen (10th, 20:23.61), senior Diana Messick (11th, 20:27.1) and sophomore Bailey Smith (14th, 20:59.18).
For the defending 4A state champs, it was a much closer race with Eudora than it had Sept. 11 at the Wamego Invitational. Eudora beat Baldwin by 38 points en route to winning the meet.
“I was really happy,” Baldwin High coach Mike Spielman said. “We did a great job today of competing. We’ve closed some things down and now we know where we’re at. It had been a while since we had seen them.”
Spring Hill finished third in the team standings with 81 points. Louisburg (101) placed fourth with Tonganoxie (122) coming in fifth place.
“Our girls league has been tough for many years,” Spring Hill coach Brent Smitheran said. “I thought maybe had a chance to sneak in there, but the old guard of Eudora and Baldwin didn’t give us any mercy. Our girls ran great, but hats off to those other two teams.”
Spring Hill was led by senior Vienna Lahner’s third-place finish in a time of 19:49.92. Tonganoxie freshman Jocie Thomas (8th, 20:19.66) and Louisburg sophomore Emma Vohs (9th, 20:23.32) also finished in the top 10.
Baldwin and Eudora will race again next week on the same course at the 4A regional meet. The girls will run at 10 a.m. with the boys starting at 10:45 a.m. on Oct. 23.