Blue Jays finish out 2021 season at State Meet
The Jamestown High School cross country team hosted the 2021 Class A State Meet Oct. 23.
Layna Hoffer wasn't gunning for any accolades when she joined cross country this fall, but 10 weeks after the competitive season began, she wound up on the podium Oct. 23 at the 2021 Class A State Cross Country Championships.
"It felt really good," Hoffer said. "I was surprised that I got all-state. I got into cross country because of my sisters and at the beginning of the season, I was going for finishing the race."
Hoffer, a seventh-grader for the Jamestown High School cross country team, finished her inaugural Blue Jay season as the 20th fastest runner in the state, crossing the line at Jamestown's Parkhurst Recreation Area with a time of 20 minutes, 7 seconds.
Hoffer helped to lead the Jays to a 14th place finish out of the 20 competing teams with 441 points. Williston was named the team champions with 68 points.
"I am so proud of Layna," Blue Jay eighth grader Brooklyn Nygaard said. "We've pushed each other in workouts and races -- I think we have a really healthy competitiveness. I love racing with her and I get just as happy for her for getting all-state as I would if I got it. It's really fun to push each other and bond in school too."
Nygaard, a second-place finisher to three-time cross country champ Meghan Ford last season, was the Jays' leader the first few meets of the 2021 season, churning out times in the 21 to 22-minute range. Hoffer burst onto the scene at the Jays' ORRignals meet, finishing the junior varsity 4000-meter race with a time of 17:26.
"We have seen Layna in some one-mile races that the fifth and sixth graders do and we could tell that she was just kind of a natural runner," JHS head cross country coach Ken Gardner said. "We knew there was potential there.
"Did I know that there was potential to be all-state her first year out? No."
While Hoffer is still pretty green as far as race tactics and workout mechanics go, Gardner said the seventh grader's raw talent and competitive drive will undoubtedly develop throughout the years if she remains dedicated to the sport.
"She just goes and runs but sometimes that is best," Gardner said. "There's a saying in distance running, don't think, just run. I think some of those kids get in their own heads and she's not doing that at this point so that is great. Any time you have a seventh grader get all-state, that's really impressive so there's a lot of positives to build on."
Nygaard has continued to build on the positive aspects of her races all season long.
"For my second State, it was definitely a lot better than my first," Nygaard said. "I improved by 28 places and I got my PR for the course. It was very challenging though, (Layna and I) were both dying by the end but it's supposed to be like that."
Nygaard ended up placing 37th out of the 175 runners with a time of 20:32. Madison Rick, Emma Flieth and Maddy Orr rounded out the Jays' top-five runners. Orr, the only Blue Jay girls senior, was injured through much of the season, but Gardner said to cap off her final season as a top-five runner was exciting.
"To be successful team-wise, it usually takes a couple of years of devloping some good depth," Gardner said. "We needed to see that growth and that improvement throughout the year and hopefully they saw that themselves. Now hopefully they are thinking about those things they can do to improve more."
The Blue Jays boys squad has continued to see that improvement throughout the entire season -- and will likely continue to see it for the next five or six years.
Lone senior Cullen Flieth helped the Blue Jays to a 14th place team finish with 398 points. Flieth missed the all-state runners by eight places, crossing the line at 17:06 to place 28th.
"It was definitely slower than last year at State," Flieth said of the race. "I know in the past it seemed like there were a lot more finishes in the mid-15s and WDA I know for a fact was slower than it should have been. It hurt me because the faster the competition is, the easier it is to go a little bit faster."
While Flieth's last race of his high school career wasn't his fastest, the senior still managed a solid season on multiple levels.
Being the top and oldest runner, Flieth said his workouts took on a more a solo tone than his previous years on the Jays' squad. The senior had to push himself instead of pushing through the workouts and competitive races with a teammate. While he was the team's leader, he commended his younger teammates for their performances throughout the year.
"They are good runners. Jack (Schauer) ran under 18 minutes today and that's something that I didn't do until ninth grade," Flieth said. "As a seventh grader, he's just doing insane and the whole team is right there with him. They are all younger so they've got a couple more years to keep getting better."
Schauer crossed the line at 17:57 while Caleb Fabaian, Ethan Igl, Sam Anteau, Micah Stoudt and Gradin Thorlakson all finished under 19 minutes. Raine Job, Austin Andersen and Noah Lynch clocked times between the 19:48 to 21:42 minute mark.
"We built a very strong team," Flieth said. "Our top five are going to be pretty stinking good in the next few years. It's going to be pretty crazy pretty soon."
2021 Class A State Cross Country Meet
Oct. 23 at Parkhurst Recreation Area, Jamestown
Blue Jay results
Girls: 20. Layna Hoffer 20:06.74; 37. Brooklyn Nygaard 20:31.12; 107. Madison Rick 21:56.67; 135. Emma Flieth 22:37.65; 142 Maddy Orr 22:51.42; 143. Jera Truax 22:53.31; 151. Jozie Davis 23:09.82; 153. Clara Harms 23:15.90; 158. Kyra Hoffer 23:32.35; 169. Jayla Hoffer 24:16.44. Boys: 28. Cullen Flieth 17:05.53; 70. Jack Schauer 17:57.05; 90. Caleb Fabian 18:15.61; 104. Ethan Igl 18:27.40; 106. Sam Anteau 18:27.99; 109. Micah Stoudt 18:29.42; 126. Gradin Thorlakson 18:55.19; 146. Raine Job 19:48.02; 150. Austin Andersen 19:52.55; 176. Noah Lynch 21:42.79.