Hopes high for Jays’ AllmerJamestown High School cross country coach Ken Gardner likes Alison Allmer’s chances this year. But he also knows the evidence is there to keep her humble. Allmer starts the season as Class A’s top-ranked runner when the “Orr”iginals Meet kicks off today.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown High School cross country coach Ken Gardner likes Alison Allmer’s chances this year.
But he also knows the evidence is there to keep her humble.
Allmer starts the season as Class A’s top-ranked runner when the “Orr”iginals Meet kicks off today.
“She ended the track season real strong last year as the repeat champion in the 1,600-meter run,” Gardner said. “She took a little time off and worked hard all summer.”
Allmer finished second at the state cross country meet last season, and with Fargo South state champion Tarin Lachowitzer graduated, the Blue Jay is looked at as the favorite.
In her way, however, is the reality that Allmer didn’t win the West Region meet last October. Bismarck Century’s Jordan Jacob, who took third behind Allmer at state, edged her for the region title. Jacob is a sophomore.
“(Winning state) pretty much has to be the goal, but it’s not gonna be given to her at all,” Gardner said. “She got beat at WDA by Jordan Jacob, and there are other girls too. There’s certainly gonna be competition.”
Though Lachowitzer graduated, the next 13 finishers at state return.
“(Alison’s) just gotta stay mentally tough and make the decision that a championship is something she wants,” Gardner said.
A familiar face waits behind Allmer as No. 2 runner Kaiann Arellano returns for her junior year. The Blue Jays are also looking for improvement from three eighth-graders in Ligia Schulz, Maya Moltzen and Rachel Morin.
“Right now, that looks to be our top five,” Gardner said.
On the boys side, Gardner said practices have become even more fun with the amount of competition on the team.
“We had a group of six or seven guys that were all running together (in practice),” Gardner said. “They’re real competitive with each other.”
The large group creates a crowded cluster in which Gardner can’t accurately say who is the team’s top runners.
“I think early on, the experience and the strength of the seniors will be a factor,” Gardner said. “Once the (younger runners) get more strength, we’ll have to see.”
It starts with seniors Kyle Gee, Philip Manley and Michael Sorensen, though freshman Kyle Schumacher has shown ability to be the team’s top runner, Gardner said. Schumacher won the team’s intrasquad race last week.
“At this point, it’s gonna be hard to tell,” Gardner said. “Kyle’s kind of separated himself a little bit. As the season goes along, we’ll see who breaks away from the big pack. That’s kind of exciting as a coach to see.”
Also in the mix will be juniors Aaron Ford and Alex Igl, sophomore Hunter Braunberger and eighth-grader Luke Bowman.
With the continued dominance of Bismarck High in cross country, Gardner said the West will be a race to see who can come in behind the Demons. And with plenty of youth, the Jays still have a little way to go.
“If we’re not at the point where we can be competitive with BHS, there are still reasons to work hard and be the top runners on our team,” Gardner said.
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com