Ted Zuzzio, retiring from his teaching duties, will remain as track-and-field coach at Baldwin High for at least a 39th year because the thought of not doing so just doesn’t make sense in any way. He’s too good at what he does and loves it too much to give up just yet. A fourth girls Class 4A state title in the past five years, accomplished Saturday in Wichita, will do that to a coach.
“We had some fun,” Zuzzio said. “We had some fun. We won six events, which is crazy, I mean crazy.”
Senior Morgan Lober won the 400 meters with a swift 56.82 time. Alexia Stein won the discus (139-4) and shot put (44-3.75), Kelsey Kehl the javelin (147-10).
Kyna Smith, Fayth Peterson, Carlyn Cole and Lober teamed to win the 4x400 relay in 4:04.18. The Baldwin 4x800 relay team won a thriller in 9:42.38, edging Paola by 0.24 seconds, a huge triumph for Hannah Hutton, Addie Dick, Peterson and Lober.
“That might have been the race of the whole track meet, all classes,” Zuzzio said. “Paola won it last year and we were second. This year, Lober and (Lauren) Frederick were shoulder-to-shoulder for 300 meters. Lober ran 2:17, and Frederick ran 2:17.”
For those not scoring at home, that’s three state titles at last weekend’s state meet for Lober.
“The Lober girl is as good as any kid we’ve ever had in track and field,” Zuzzio said.
Good enough to draw the interest of recruiters far and wide. How’s this for a testament to how nice a town Baldwin City is: Lober will continue her education and running career at Baker University.
“She wants to stay at home and be an elementary school teacher,” Zuzzio said. “Just a nice, nice kid who loves children.”
The Bulldogs’ boys team exceeded expectations with a third-place finish. Joseph Pierce, Ethan Hartzell, George Letner and Dakota Helm combined to win the 4x800 in 7:59.
“Success breeds success,” Zuzzio said of the Bulldogs’ recent track-and-field dominance. “And I think they see that we care. Everybody cares. It’s not, ‘OK, it’s 5 o’clock, we’re out of here.’ All the coaches care, and the kids work really hard.”
Zuzzio said of assistants Richard Ebel, Chris Kehl, Frank Perbeck, Mike Spielman, “We’re not young guys.”
Then he added of Brent Brittingham, “He’s the young guy.”
Zuzzio said daily practices consist of the entire team jogging two laps and doing team plyometrics together. Then the assistants in charge of the four groups — distance, sprints, throws and jumps — break off and put their athletes through workouts.
Baldwin had an amazing meet with so many athletes peaking at the perfect time, but the Bulldogs weren’t the only nearby school to bring home first-place hardware.
Perry-Lecompton’s Colin Coleman broke a 4A state-meet record that had stood for 11 years (Tim Lira, 21.89) with a 21.87 in the 200 meters. That’s serious, serious speed. Coleman also ran the first leg of the Kaws’ 4x400 relay team that flew around the track in 3:23.7. Cody Williams, Seth Surface and William Hinrichsen took care of the final three laps.
Other area standouts who won 4A titles included Jannell Clampitt of De Soto in the girls high jump (10-6) and Tonganoxie’s Ben Johnson in the boys triple jump (45-2).
Track and field is a big sport, a cool-kids sport in this area, which makes sense given Kansas University’s great tradition.