Junction City cross country senior Tyler Atkins did not wait long to make his mark on the 2021 season.

In the Blue Jays first meet of the season Saturday morning in Manhattan, Atkins took first individually, finishing with a time of 16:10.5 which was 13 second faster than the second place finisher.

As a team, the Blue Jay boys took fifth, one point ahead of Lawrence High, while the Junction girls finished seventh. The Manhattan boys and girls took first overall as a team.

For the boys, junior Isaiah Smith was the second Blue Jay to cross the finish line, ending his day in 16th (17:25), sophomore Ty Raulston finished 42nd (18:56.4), junior Alex Curto placed 44th (19:13.1), senior Hayden Diestelkamp placed 49th (19:39.9). Both Smith’s and Curto’s times were personal records.

For the girls, sophomore Lorna Rae Pierce placed 12th with a time of 20:29.5 followed by sophomore Brynna York who finished 26th (21:25.1), sophomore Reagan McGuire placed 29th (21:43.3), Murin Burkett finished 53rd (24.05.4) and Amyah O’Neal placed 54th (24.22.4)

Pierce’s time was a personal record by 30 seconds to go along with PR’s from York and McGuire.

Washburn Rural junior Madeline Carter (18:52.6) finished first overall in the race.

Head coach Tim Testa was happy with the results from both teams but wanted to start the year with an emphasis on the team’s warm-up and cool down procedures.

“Today we wanted to focus on what would make us successful and we tried to emphasize our pre and post race activities,” Testa said in a release. “Overall I was happy with those parts of the day, and I believe that helped the group earn so many fast times.”

The Blue Jays will be back in action this Saturday at Emporia.

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