JC boys XC

The Junction City boys cross country team huddles together before their season-opening race Saturday morning at Warner Park in Manhattan. The Blue Jay boys finished fifth.

First-year head coach Tim Testa has his eyes set on a return to the strong tradition of Junction City cross country.

On the girls’ team, Testa has just one senior while the boys have three seniors.

“(Our) seniors are few and far between,” Testa said. “But they are adding a lot to the program. Obviously, we want leadership. We want kids who are going to work. On the girls’ side, she has been in our program all four year – for us being a military school, that does not happen very often. On the guys’ side, two of (the seniors) are transfers, and one of them as been here all four years. He has been huge for us.”

Despite the small number of upperclassmen, the leaders that they do have are battle tested, especially on the boys side.

“Tyler Atkins took sixth place in the two-mile at state track last spring,” Testa said. “Hayden Dieselkamp, another senior, qualified to state last year and our third senior is Javhon Jackson, transfer from Texas, (Jackson) ran some good times at Texas and he works his tail off.”

“Murin Burkett on the girls’ (team), ran some really good times for us in track last year,” Testa said. “Last year, the girls were on the edge of qualifying to state, and (Burget) was right in that group. (Our seniors) are going to help us a lot throughout for the year.”

As the juniors and senior classes consist of only three players on the girls’ team, Testa knows his future is bright as the freshman and sophomores are fast, he says.

“Our girls are really young,” he said. “We just joked today, as long as the army does not take them all away, we are going to be really good in about two years.”

Testa thinks his boys’ and girls’ team both have talent with potential as he thinks this team can eventually compete for league championships.

“Manhattan and Washburn Rural are really good,” he said. “But there is no reason we are not going to be trying to chase (those schools). By the end of the year, I think both teams have a chance to qualify for state.”

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