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Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2005

Right time to shine

Elniff turns in peak performance on biggest stage

December 1, 2005

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In the office at Baldwin High sits the Bulldogs' eighth straight Class 4A boys cross country state championship plaque.

Thanks in part to a third-place finish by junior Chris Elniff, the boys team has matched the second-longest streak of state championships.

"I think it was really cool to be able to come out and PR (set a personal record) in a big race, at state," said Elniff, the 2005 All-Area Boys Runner of the Year. "And it was just really neat to be able to help continue the streak."

Elniff took on many familiar foes in his race to third place.

"He beat a kid from Spring Hill that he hadn't beaten all year. That kid was the league champ, had beaten him at regionals and all these times," said BHS boys and girls cross country coach Mike Spielman, "but he had just set himself up to run a good race and he passed the kid right at the end."

Elniff said it was a great honor to be recognized for the successful season he had.

"I really think that I set out and accomplished all the goals that I had for this season," Elniff said. "And for next year I just want to keep improving, striving to get better and I think that I can hopefully accomplish all of that."

Baldwin will need him to continue his stellar running if it is to increase the streak to nine straight championships, as the boys team will have key members graduating.

"We're going to need to be able to just get out, run more independently in the off-season and hopefully just be able to strive to make the improvements that we're going to need to stay on top," Elniff said.

Spielman, who is in his 14th year coaching cross country at Baldwin, said that Elniff has shown great progress throughout high school.

"Every year he has just stepped up. His freshman year he was the alternate," Spielman said. "Then last year, he had a great year and he placed ninth at state. So he's just moved up."

All-Area Boys Cross Country

The All-Area boys cross country team was selected by The Journal-World sports staff and is based heavily on voting by area coaches and performances throughout the season. All area coaches have an opportunity to vote for first-team, second-team and honorable-mention honors.

Elniff said he has his eye on the individual state championship for next year.

"I really think that would be cool to be able to pull that off for my senior year," Elniff said. "So I've just got to keep working and keep on top of it and not relax and just try to stay up where I'm at."

Spielman said Elniff definitely has the ability to get the top spot at state in 2006.

"We haven't had a lot of kids to win state and the kids really hadn't even thought about it," Spielman said. "He does have a great chance, because the two guys in front of him were seniors.

"We've just had really good team kids, but we haven't had the stud. And Chris has got a chance to be that stud, be that kid that can go out and win state."

Elniff has already been enough of a "stud" to have colleges expressing interest in him. He has received letters from the likes of Emporia State, Kansas State and Brown University.

But there's another school that he hopes to hear from.

"It would be really cool to get one from KU," Elniff said. "I'm a Jayhawk."

FIRST TEAM

Cody Burns ¢ Eudora ¢ Jr.

¢ Finished 50th at Class 4A state meet in 18:03

¢ Finished third at Hiawatha regional in 17:13

¢ Second-team Frontier League selection

Grant Catloth ¢ Baldwin ¢ Sr.

¢ Finished 18th at Class 4A state meet in 17:14

¢ Finished fifth at Labette County regional in 17:20

¢ First-team Frontier League selection

Keith Cowart ¢ Baldwin ¢ Sr.

¢ Finished seventh at Class 4A state meet in 16:54

¢ Finished 11th at Labette County regional in 17:48

¢ First-team Frontier League selection

Tanner McNamara ¢ De Soto ¢ Jr.

¢ Finished 17th at Class 4A state meet in 17:13

¢ Won Hiawatha regional in 17:06

¢ Honorable-mention Frontier League selection

SECOND TEAM

Adam Justice, De Soto, Jr.

Jack Sachse, Ottawa, Sr.

Nate Whalen, Wellsville, Sr.

Mike Whim, Mill Valley, Sr.

Spencer Wilson, Baldwin, Sr.

HONORABLE MENTION

Aaron Karlin, Baldwin, Soph.; Caj Kueffer, Baldwin Jr.; Tim DeArmond, Eudora, Jr.; Matt Wahweotten, Ottawa, Jr.; Kyle Marshall, Perry-Lecompton, Soph.; Matt Brock, Tonganoxie, Fr.; Colin Perkins, Tonganoxie, Soph.

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