Ballou is leader of pack at Hayden Invitational
Brooks Ballou was a force to be reckoned with on the cross country course during his junior season.
Based on his senior debut on Saturday at the Topeka Hayden Invitational, it’s safe to bet that Ballou will deliver a repeat performance this fall.
The Bonner Springs boys placed fifth at the meet, but Ballou was the individual champion as he blazed the five-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 20 seconds.
He edged Paola’s Sam Rourke by five seconds for the championship, outkicking him at the end.
“I was really excited to win,” Ballou said. “I felt like I had run a pretty good race, but I was a little surprised to see (Rourke) so close at the end, but I was able to hang on.”
Ballou also won this race in 2008 with a time 15 seconds faster, but the course was in good condition last year. This season it was a soggy mess due to all the rain that came through Topeka on Friday.
“I feel I have my best races when I can get in a rhythm,” Ballou said. “I wasn’t able to really get comfortable … it’s just easier to stumble when the course is like that, but I was still happy with my time for the conditions being what they were.”
Two other Braves joined Ballou as medalists. Matt Coffman finished 12th in 18:42 and Austin Epp was 19th in 19:41.
Maranatha Academy won the team title with 58 points, Paola was second with 72 and Hayden was third with 72. Olpe had 75 and Bonner Springs posted a 98.
BSHS coach Bill Downing liked what he saw from his team, and hopes to keep seeing incremental improvement from week to week to peak at the right time of the year, just like in 2008.
“It was a good start to the season,” Downing said. “We knew times weren’t going to be real fast, but overall I was happy.”
The Bonner Springs girls had two medal winners also, though they did not have enough runners to accumulate a team score. Mandy Ballou finished 10th with a time of 18:22, and Scintilla Capalla finished 12th with a time of 18:25.
Bonner Springs next competes at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Bishop Miege Invitational.
“I’ve heard it’s a really fast course,” Ballou said. “We’ll be going up against a couple of 6A and 4A schools that I (am not familiar with). I’m looking forward to the race.”