JHS cross country: Strong core returnsJamestown junior Alison Allmer has been chasing after a state cross country championship since she was an eighth-grader. That was when the Blue Jay runner got her first taste for the state tournament. In her first year, Allmer placed 12th, but since then she has steadily finished higher and higher with each year — fourth place as a freshman and third place as a sophomore.
Jamestown junior Alison Allmer has been chasing after a state cross country championship since she was an eighth-grader.
That was when the Blue Jay runner got her first taste for the state tournament. In her first year, Allmer placed 12th, but since then she has steadily finished higher and higher with each year — fourth place as a freshman and third place as a sophomore.
This year, Allmer will be looking to take that next step and not only finish better than she did a year ago, but perhaps claim her first state title in cross country.
“On the girls’ side, it all starts with Alison Allmer,” said Jamestown coach Ken Gardner. “She’s been consistently moving up at the state meet. ... Her goal is to be at (third place) or higher, so that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room to move higher.”
Allmer earned the title “state champion” last spring when she took down the 1,600-meter field at the state Class A track and field meet in Bismarck. And among those in the 1,600-meter field were both runners that placed higher than her in last year’s state cross country meet.
“She’s been working hard this offseason,” Gardner said. “She’s been putting on some miles and that’s what it takes.”
Tarin Lachowitzer, of Fargo Davies, has won the last two state titles in cross country, but it was Allmer who broke the ribbon last spring, clearing state cross country runner up Sarah Jacobson, of Fargo Shanley, by almost three seconds.
But now focus shifts to cross country and her first test will be today when the Blue Jays host the Orriginals Invitational at 11 a.m. at McElroy Park.
“She doesn’t have to go out and win every meet, but she’s got to be competitive,” said Gardner. “That’s all we’re really looking for right now.”
Allmer enters the season as the Blue Jays top runner, but Gardner sees potential in more than just last year’s anchor.
Senior Elizabeth Entzel has been one of the more consistent runners over the last few years, and Gardner expects that to be the case again in her final season with the Blue Jays.
“She’s been consistently in our top five over that last couple of years,” said Gardner. “She’s been looking good this year.”
Senior Julie Fuchs and junior Anna Larsen will join sophomore Kaiann Arellano as the projected runners in the varsity lineup, but Gardner added that there could be some shuffling around as the year goes on.
“One of the things that’s encouraging this year is we’ve got seven seventh-grade girls on the roster,” Gardner said. “That bodes well for us. ... Especially on the girls’ side, you don’t know where some of those middle-schoolers are going to be, especially at the end of the year.”
The boys will be led by senior Jake Neiland, who finished 69th last year at the West Region Championship, but missed the state meet because of illness.
“He put a lot of miles in over the summer,” said Gardner of his senior captain. “He went to a couple running camps, so he’s been itching to get going.”
Fellow senior captain Joe Jensen will return after leading the Blue Jays at the state meet a year ago. Jensen, who finished 59th at last year’s region meet, placed 83rd at state to help lead Jamestown to a 15th-place team finish.
“Both (Jensen and Neiland) have been putting in a lot of work,” Gardner said.
Junior Phil Manley returns after pacing the Blue Jays at the West Region meet last season. Manley finished 36th at the West, but struggled to a 109th-place finish at state.
“He was consistently in our top 3 last year,” said Gardner. “(Manley, Jensen and Neiland) all went to a running camp out in Wyoming, so they got some good experience and some good miles out there.”
Michael Sorensen is another junior that will be spending a lot of time on varsity, but a surprising face has also emerged in the early stages of the season.
“Eighth-grader Kyle Schumacher really has a legitimate shot at being in our top five,” Gardner said. “He’s been looking really tough. We saw him a few times this summer at some of our summer runs, but now that the season has started he’s been pretty impressive. ... He will be one to keep an eye on.”
And today will be Gardner’s first chance to not only see the young eighth-grader, but the entire team in competition.
“When they get to this point in the year they’re ready to get going,” said Gardner. “They’re ready to get out of the gates and do something a little different than just practice.”
Sun sports writer David Griswold can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow Griswold on Twitter @dgriswoldjssun