BLHS hopes cross country meet is gem
Spend enough time around Basehor-Linwood High School athletics and it becomes clear the school takes pride in the sporting events it hosts.
The school hosts tournaments that are among the top wrestling and basketball competitions in the area each winter.
Now, Basehor-Linwood is attempting to establish a top early-season cross country meet.
The school is sponsoring the Bobcats Cross Country Invitational at Wyandotte County Park, with the hope that it will be well-received by teams who participate, and entice others to enter next year.
"We have people all the time who call wanting to get into our basketball and wrestling tournaments," coach Jeff Venema said. "We would like to get this to the point in the future where they call us wanting to be in the races."
Basehor-Linwood has 13 schools signed up to participate from class 6A Blue Valley West's C-team to Jackson Heights, a powerful 2A program, which should ensure good competition.
Five schools will compete in a middle school cross country meet, which begins with the seventh-grade race at 3:45 p.m.
Perhaps what makes this meet different from other fledgling competitions is the attention Venema is paying to extra details.
For example, Jim Ryun, one of the best runners in Kansas history, is expected to award medals at the meet.
Ryun and his wife are expected to attend the races.
"It is very gracious of them to come to our meet," Venema said. "Hopefully, the rain will hold off and cooperate."
In addition to Ryun's appearance, Community National Bank is sponsoring food for the event. Parents and community boosters have signed up to help sponsor the event and feed the athletes in attendance.
"We will have 330 kids running who afterwards will be well-fed and taken care of," Venema said. "There is a big effort to make this meet first-class. That comes back to Joe Keeler. He is fully committed to running a first-class event. He is very supportive of whatever we dream up, it is really important to have someone like that in your corner."
The Basehor-Linwood girls cross country team is ranked fifth in the Kansas City Metro Coaches poll for small schools, which was released earlier this week. Venema said the ranking is nice, but he said the girls have a lot of work to do this season.
"I am not sure that we have done anything to deserve that," he said.
Basehor-Linwood Middle School has a new cross country team this fall.
The team practices four days each week and has 35 seventh and eighth graders competing in cross country.
Some of the runners are competing to get in shape for other sports. Others are just trying to find something new to do as they do not play other fall sports. Tyler Hamilton is coaching the team and said he is pleased with the resolve that the runners are showing this season.
They are learning how to run long distances and learning how to push themselves during runs. Initially, some of the runners would walk during the runs, but now they are able to run the full workout.
Typically, the team practices for one hour each day, and one race takes place each week.
The team's first competition will be at 3:45 p.m. today at the Bobcat Invitational at Wyandotte County Park.