Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2006

Opinion: BLHS not labeled worthy opponent

October 12, 2006

Basehor-Linwood cross country coach Jeff Venema is generally a pretty even-tempered guy, but he gets downright angry when he talks about the Kansas Coaches Association top-8 rankings.

Venema thinks his girls team should be ranked.

He has a point.

The Lady Bobcats have won four of the seven meets they've run in this year, it's hard to do better than that.

The BLHS girls got six votes in the latest KCA poll, the same number Tonganoxie got. The Lady Bobcats have four first-place varsity finishes, while the Lady Chieftains have one. Granted, they haven't been running against the exact same competition, but at the latest meet they both ran in, Lawrence's Rim Rock Invitational, BLHS finished fifth and THS finished ninth.

The Lady Bobcats have clearly outdone Tonganoxie on the course this year, so why are they having such a hard time pulling ahead in the rankings? As I see it, it comes down to one thing: BLHS athletes just don't get much respect outside of their hometown.

This isn't only true of cross country, we've seen it throughout the fall sports. The volleyball team finished 8-24 last year and, with the same players back, most teams tend to take the Lady Bobcats pretty lightly. It doesn't seem to matter that they've already won 12 matches.

The volleyball team doesn't get much respect even within it's own league. Earlier in the year the coach of the Piper Pirates, a good, but not dominant team, told the Kansas City Kansan that she would be disappointed if her squad didn't beat a group of three teams, including Basehor-Linwood, in two games each. Generally coaches always tell newspaper reporters that they're expecting a tough match, no matter who they're playing against.

The Basehor-Linwood soccer team doesn't get much respect, either, despite running up a 9-3-1 record this year. The big-time 5A teams in the Kaw Valley League still don't take the Bobcats seriously. Earlier in the season BLHS beat Lansing 3-2 and very nearly beat Mill Valley, leading 2-0 most of the way. But the Lions refer to that game as one they "gave away" and the Jaguars claim they were forced to overcome bad officiating. They give very little credit to the Bobcats.

Even as the volleyball, soccer and cross country teams continue to rack up wins, the area's elite teams still aren't looking at them as worthy adversaries. Of course, joining that club takes time, and the Bobcats will probably first have to sustain their success for a few years.

For now, they should treat every meet or game as chance to make the other teams respect them.

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