Blue Jays hoping fresh legs help at state
At this time of year, it’s all about fresh legs for cross country runners.
“There’s no magic workout now that’s gonna make them better,” said Gardner earlier in the week. “We have to find a balance of letting the body recover and mentally, maintaining that focus and intensity.”
Gardner said practices have been all about keeping the Blue Jays in the right frame of mind. Action starts at noon at Bjornson Park Golf Course.
“You don’t wanna show up to practice and play duck-duck-goose,” Gardner said. “They won’t have that focus.”
It’ll be up to some of the seniors to lead the charge, and on the boys side, that means Aaron Ford. He finished 20th at the West Region meet two weeks ago, picking up all-conference honors.
“Aaron took a year or two off, but he came back the last couple years and has had the most success,” Gardner said. “Earlier in the season, he didn’t have the mileage and the strength, and he’s certainly developed that over the course of the season. He stuck with his race strategy and it’s paid off. We’re happy to see that.”
Alex Igl and Cody Kenna are the other senior boys who will compete at state for Jamestown. Kaiann Arellano is the only senior girl competing. Allie Erickson and Nicole Fritz competed during the season but didn’t make the team’s top-10 lineup for state.
“When they come out and you see them year after year … younger runners come along and see that,” Gardner said. “With the running that the upperclassmen do, it strengthens the program.”
Gardner is hoping sophomore Kyle Schumacher can have his best meet of the season. Schumacher was the Jays’ top finisher at state last season and looked to be the team’s top runner this season until Ford surpassed him the last few meets.
“Kyle’s just as hungry for (state),” Gardner said. “He got a little disappointed when he got a side ache at WDA. He’s got a little something to prove.”
Maya Moltzen has been consistently ahead of the pack for the girls. She missed an all-conference nod by one spot, taking 21st. Battling behind Moltzen have been freshmen Ligia Schulz and Rachel Morin, and eighth-grader Teralyn Coombs.
“It’s a promising group,” Gardner said. “We need to keep them motivated and (for them to) keep each other going.”
Bismarck High is favored to win its ninth consecutive state title, entering as the No. 1 team in the final coaches poll. Demons runners Matt Gotta is ranked No. 1, which is just one of four runners rated in the top 10 runners poll.
Bismarck Century sits atop the girls poll, led by top-ranked Jordan Jacob, the West Region champion. The Patriots have three runners in the top 10. Defending state champion Bismarck High isn’t far behind, as its ranked second and also has three runners in the top 10 including defending state titlist Brittany Brownotter.
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or firstname.lastname@example.org