4A: Eudora's Girls, Augusta's Schmidt have Storybook Endings

At last, Eudora gets to celebrate as champions
(Photo by Chris Fortune of the
Eudora Times)




You couldn't have scripted it any better. Eudora, after spending years chasing the Baldwin Bulldogs, has finally claimed a state championship. All year long, they've had to show up big to beat the defending champions, and they have. State is a different animal, though, and Eudora proved they can handle that, too.

Sparked by the duo of Hanna Keltner (2nd, 20:04) and Sydney Owens (3rd, 20:08), Eudora grinded out another hard-fought victory over Baldwin. The Bulldogs did their best, packing Diana Messick, Riley Smith, and Jana Landreth in the top ten. When the dust settled, though, Eudora emerged by eight points, 56-64. Their 4th runner, Liz Mueting, was a big difference-maker as she finished 4 spots ahead of Baldwin's 4th runner. Taking a convincing third place was Winfield, a healthy 45 points ahead of 4th.

Ahead of the Keltner-Owens duo in the individual race was Clearwater's Hayley Trotter. She has been a force all season long, and finished it off with a remarkable 19:26 at the tough Wamego Country Club. Baldwin's Messick was 4th in 20:20, and Rock Creek's Kyra Nippert was 5th in 20:23.

For the boys, Sawyer Schmidt couldn't have asked for anything better. The Augusta senior has been stuck behind Buhler's Tanner Lindahl and Hayden's Tanner Newkirk his entire career. When the three met at the Wamego Invite early in the year, Newkirk was the winner. At Rim Rock, it was Lindahl that led the trio. In the end, though, the state championship trumps all, and Schmidt decided enough was enough. Newkirk has always seemed to pull away in the last half mile or so to win races at Wamego, but Schmidt didn't let that play out this time. He didn't let it come down to a close finish, taking a 9-second victory in 15:54. Lindahl was second in 16:05, while Newkirk was third in 16:25. All three will graduate with one cross country title: Lindahl in 2018, Newkirk in 2020, and Schmidt in 2021.

Schmidt's day kept getting better, though. When the team standings were settled, his Orioles took third place over Bishop Miege by two points. Winning a close one is always fun, but winning it over the division's powerhouse private school is even better. The top two teams were clearly Buhler and Wamego, and things played out about as expected. Buhler has been rolling for a while, and this is their fourth consecutive championship. Wamego has been successful all year, as evidenced by Noah Morenz and Emery Wolfe's top-10 finishes on Saturday. The Red Raiders just aren't quite at the level of the Crusaders, though.

Rounding out the top five individuals were Circle's Ian Hunter at 16:36 and Tonganoxie's Eli Gilmore at 16:42. Looking ahead, those top four are all seniors. As they go out with a bang, the opportunity opens for a few youngsters to take over next year.