Ballou overcomes fall, storms back for victory at Ottawa Invitational
Brooks Ballou will be glad to know he never has to race on the Ottawa course again.
It has been a nightmare the last two years for the Bonner Springs senior.
In 2008, Ballou took a wrong turn that threw him off course, and he ended up running an extra quarter of a mile. Despite the critical error he was able to finish sixth at the Ottawa Invitational.
This year, the course was extra muddy because of the six inches of rain in Ottawa Friday night. A little more than half way through the race Saturday, Ballou was comfortably in the lead, but slipped and fell.
“At that point I was like, ‘Oh no, is this how it is going to end? Are they going to catch me because I slipped?’” Ballou said. “That was until I thought about how I closed out last year after the wrong turn. I was not going to allow it to end like that, with me not winning.”
He was only on the ground for a second or two before springing to his feet, but the damage was done. Though Ballou was still in first place, he was no longer at top speed, and fellow racers had closed the gap significantly.
“Instinct just took over,” said Ballou, who finished the race in a fury to take first place. Despite the fall, he was able to turn in a time of 18 minutes flat in the 5,000-meter race — his fourth victory in a row to start the season, and by far the most difficult one yet.
Bonner Springs finished fourth as a team. Matt Coffman finished 13th (19:47) and Austin Epp finished 17th (20:00). Both runners medaled. TJ Kimbrough (21:18), Tyler Johnson (21:50), Zach Povlitski (22:53) and Austin Travis-Cobb (24:31) all finished in the top 40.
The BSHS girls finished fifth at Ottawa. Mandy Ballou, Brooks’ sister, finished third with a time of 18:01 in the 4,000-meter race, and Scintila Capalla finished eighth in 18:53.
“It was exciting to see (Mandy) compete like that,” Brooks Ballou said. “I try to do whatever I can to make her better. We have a sibling rivalry of sorts — she almost beat my time, and she broke her personal record by 20 seconds. She is a better runner than me. She is going to be scary good.”
“The boys could piece something together by the end of the year,” BSHS coach Bill Downing said. “Brooks ran a great race again, and we are looking forward to a good training run this weekend.”
The Braves have a week off before the Wyandotte County Championships on Oct. 10 at Wyandotte County Park.
“WYCO is on the home course, so I like my chances,” Ballou said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted, but I think I can do well on that course and hopefully improve upon my last time there.”
As for his hopes for the Braves making their fifth straight state appearance as a team?
“I think everybody is coming together at the right time and are really doing well,” he said. “I don’t want the streak to end during my senior year.”