In this file photo, the Junction City girls cross country team and head coach Tim Testa huddle before the Manhattan Invitational meet on Sept. 4. The Blue Jay girls placed three girls in the top 25 of a race at Emporia last Saturday.

Despite being a warm day the Junction City High School Cross Country teams performed at a high level in Emporia on Saturday. Ten Blue Jay Runners posted personal bests and ten more Blue Jays made their JCHS cross country debuts.

Head coach Tim Testa was happy to see so many runners on the course.

“It was great to see so many performers representing our school and program,” Testa said .”Many of the top schools in the state have earn their successes in cross country because of great participation numbers. I am excited to see our program grow in numbers. I know it will lead to more competitive practices and ultimately better results in races.”

The morning started with the JV Girls 5,000m race. JCHS had just three girls in the race after moving up a few athletes to varsity this week. Sophomore Katey Atkins ran to a 6th place finish with a time of 22:24 in her first race of the year. That time equals her second best performance of her career. Elaina Schmidt raced to a time of 24:58, breaking 25:00 for just the second time in her career. Ruth Easterling also ran the second fastest time of her life and finished the 5k race in a time of 25:53.

“All of our JV girls ran the second fastest times of their lives,” assistant coach Mandy Zimmerman said. “Those are encouraging performances because its so early in the 2021 season. Over the next few weeks, I would expect to see all of these ladies dropping some fast times.”

In the junior varsity boys race, two Blue Jays posted personal records. Adrian Duarte led the Blue Jays with a time of 19:38. Sophomores Evan Hall and Johnny Rushing crossed the finish line in 53rd and 54th place while running times of 20:06 and 20:07 respectively. Rounding out the junior varsity team scoring were sophomore Michael Bockman and junior Jerry Murray.

Perhaps the best team performance of the day was the Varsity Girls race.

The Blue Jays put three girls in the top 25 individuals of the race and the top two Blue Jays in the race posted PR times.

Brynna York finished 9th overall and broke the 20:00 barrier for 5k for the first time in her life. York’s official time was 19:58. Reagan McGuire (Soph.) finished 17th overall in the race and ran a PR time of 20:34. Rounding out the top 3 scorers for the Blue Jays was sophomore Lorna Rae Pierce. She placed 24th in a time of 20:46, her second best time of her life.

Next across the line for the Blue Jays was freshman Kourtney Dibben. In her varsity race debut, she ran a time of 23:44 for the 5k. Flipping spots on the team from last week, sophomore Amyah O’Neal and senior Murin Burkett finished 78th and 81st overall.

“We were very encouraged by the varsity girls race today. Once we put all of the pieces together, these ladies could be a dangerous group.” assistant coach Ryan Norton said.

Tyler Atkins led the varsity boys across the finish line with a 2nd place finish with a time of 16:10, matching his time from last week in Manhattan.

Junior Isaiah Smith battled some breathing issues and finished his race at 18:01, placing 39th overall. JCHS Cross Country newcomer Alex Curto posted a huge PR in the race and ran 18:15 for the 5k race. Curto ran 62 second faster than his previous best time.

Sophomore Ty Raulston also ran a PR on the day and finished in a time of 18:43. Senior Hayden Diestelkamp improved a lot on last week’s race, finishing in a time of 18:53. Rounding out the varsity boys races, in his JCHS varsity cross country debut was junior Neil Crowley. Crowley ran a personal record of 19:14, crossing the finish line in 69th place.

The final race of the day was the C-Team boys and girls combined 4,000m race. JCHS had 15 runners in the race with 11 boys and 4 girls toeing the line. Of the 15 runners, 9 were making their JCHS cross country debuts.

“C Team races are almost as hard for the coaches as they are for the kids,” Testa said. “Our C-team group is very spread out. We always have some runners who are competing towards the front and back of the race. Our job is to get from place to place and encourage the athletes, so we get our workout in while the team is working too.”

C Team Results

Tim Sifuentes – 16:25 PR

Dallas Tatar – 17:42

Samuel Johnston 17:52

Joey Hill 17:55 PR

Francisco Fuentes 18:02

Gavin Moore 18:07

Andre Cervantes 18:18

David Rosauer 19:13

Eli McGlothin 20:35

Seth Ortega 21:10

William Easterling 35:25

Alala Myers 21:25

Mikynzie Tatro 21:53

Hailey Lemon 24:41

Sylvia Arriaga 27:36

The Blue Jays are back in action on Sept. 23rd in Wabaunsee County and Sept. 25th in Lawrence. JCHS Cross Country will split the squad and take some JV/C Team athletes on the 23rd and Varsity/JV level athletes to the historic Rim Rock Classic. The Rim Rock course is the home of the University of Kansas cross country team and the Classic is the premier cross country meet in the state of Kansas year in and year out.

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