‘Cats place third in opening meet

Story by Kyle Davis

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The 2010 Baker cross country teams’ seasons start and end in Baldwin City.

The teams competed in the Maple Leaf Invitational Saturday in Baldwin City, the first meet of the season, and look to end the season with a home-field advantage in Baldwin City at the HAAC Championships Nov. 6.

“There was a great crowd out there, lots of students who were out there on Saturday, and I was very pleased to see everybody out there,” head coach Zach Kindler said.

The women’s team came into the meet as the defending champions, but both the women and men finished third. The women ran a 4K race while the men’s race distance was a 5K.

“We were pleased, but we have a lot of work to do still,” sophomore Eric Larson said.

Johnson County Community College won the invitational for the men, with a score of 52, while Graceland University finished second.

Kansas Wesleyan University won the meet on the women’s side, with a total of 28, while William Jewell College edged out Baker by seven points to finish second.

Until this meet, William Jewell had never beaten one of the Baker teams since Kindler has been the coach at Baker.

Kindler said this first meet is used as an assessment of the team.

“That’s typically what, as a coach, I look at to see where we are at and what we need to do to continue to improve,” Kindler said. “But then, also I want to see competitiveness and where we’re at right now and see what we want to do.”

The Baker and William Jewell men’s teams tied with 81 points through the first five runners.

However, Baker’s sixth runner beat William Jewell’s sixth runner to grab third place.

“That’s what I’m more excited, I think, about anything this year on our guys’ side, is our depth this year,” Kindler said. “We have a lot of underclassmen that are really showing that they’re competitive, they really want it, and they’re running strong right now.”

The women may not have repeated as the meet champions, but both the men’s and women’s team’s average times improved by roughly 30 seconds from last year to this year.

The women’s team finished with three top-10 finishers, freshman Lauren Jaqua, who finished seventh, sophomore Lindsey Brown, who finished ninth, and right behind her was freshman Megan Rosa, who finished 10th.

Junior Chris Scheideman led the men’s team with a 12th-place finish, running a time of 16:30, while Larson, 16:34, finished 15th.

The next test for the Wildcats is the Southern Stampede, Sept. 18 in Joplin, Mo. Along with fellow NAIA teams, Baker will compete against NCAA Division I and Division II schools, including the University of Arkansas.

“We have a lot of freshmen on our team, so it will be nice for them to get used to being at bigger meets and kind of seeing higher-level competition, so that when it comes time for conference, they’ll be used to it,” Brown said.

The teams have the week off from competition to train before competing for three consecutive weeks.

“I’m kind of anxious to get started, but you’ve kind of got to take this week and cherish it,” Brown said. “Because once we get going, we have a lot of meets where we’re traveling, going to Joplin and (Oklahoma State) and going out to Fort Hays, so it’ll be a lot of traveling, but I’m ready to go.”