Baldwin — When senior Kain Anderson found out his Free State High cross country team finished third in the boys and girls races on Saturday at the Baldwin Invitational, he repeated one word.
“Nice,” he said. “Nice.”
Free State had a satisfying invitational, finishing behind Shawnee Mission West and Saint Thomas Aquinas in the two races.
Anderson finished second overall with a 16:02 in the boys 5K. Senior Lynn Robinson finished second overall for the girls with a 15:13 in the 4K.
Anderson and Robinson, along with a majority of their teammates, set drastic personal bests. Anderson set a 20-second personal record, while Robinson shaved 38 seconds off of her PR set back in her first race as a freshman.
“The weather was perfect for running with the light rain,” Robinson said. “It was awesome.”
This breakthrough, rain or not, was prime to happen at some point for the Firebirds, Anderson said. Since running is such a mental sport, coach Steve Heffernan doesn’t call out runners for poor performances.
“We try to stay positive about everything, and it has helped so much,” Anderson said.
The day’s success trickled all the way down the roster. Six runners on the boys side broke 18:00, which was a welcome surprise to the team. Anderson said it was hard to put his feelings into words.
“We deserve all of this because we’ve been working so hard,” he said.
The girls finish was even more impressive since they have only two veterans on varsity, Robinson said.
“We’re extremely young,” she said. “They don’t really know what they’re doing quite yet, but I’m so happy that we got third.”
The Firebirds are pleased with where they are at this point in the season. Heffernan just wants it to continue for the rest of the season because FSHS looks like it can make a push for the Sunflower League crown.
“We always talk about the season being long, and we want to run our best in October,” he said. “But we’ll certainly run fast in September if we can.”