RUNNING START: Blue Jay XC teams host opener Saturday
Jamestown High School cross country runner Meghan Ford will face some tough competition this fall, as five of the top six Class A competitors are returning in 2018. But coach Ken Gardner isn't worried for the sophomore.
"There isn't any girl that had a spring like her," Gardner said, referring to Ford's track season. "The preseason coaches poll comes out on Wednesday and she should be in the top five, if not the top runner in the state. She's one of the most decorated distance runners after spring track season."
Ford is beginning to build up quite a resume in both cross country and track and field at the high school level, with still two years left to compete. She placed seventh at the 2017 Class A cross country meet, won the 1,600-meter state title this spring and ran the 5,000 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in mid June, where she finished 28th.
"I think clearly her goal is to win the state championship," Gardner said. "With the performance she had in the spring, it'll be her goal. On her end, she has to control what she can."
After penciling in Ford as the No. 1 runner, Gardner will have to figure out the right combination for the JHS girls team. Some options will be senior Jaymee George, senior Amanda Sargeant and senior Peyton Rudnick.
"There's a drop off there," Gardner said. "We had summer running programs where five to 10 guys would show up throughout the summer but only three or four girls. Beyond Meghan, it'll be running them into shape this season and hope the times drop."
Eighth-grader Alexis Kirkeby, freshman Eliza Herrick, sophomore Emily Sargeant, junior Sadie Meissner and sophomore Sydney Zalumskis also competed at state last October.
Jacob Anteau will be one of the top runners on the boys' side. The senior was running up and down the soccer field until this year, when he decided to come out for cross country.
"Right now in the early going, our top runner will be Jacob Anteau," Gardner said. "He was in cross country during middle school but played soccer until this year. He's looking pretty strong right now, which is good to see."
Sophomore Chandlar Rott finished 56th at the state cross country meet last season with a time of 17:23.90. Junior Thomas Schmiedeberg, sophomores Micah Hoke, Hunter Mitchell, and Jared Andersen, freshmen Cullen Flieth and Camden Kutz, and eighth-grader Ethan Igl also ran at state.
Jamestown will be hosting the 'Orr'iginals Meet this Saturday at the Parkhurst Recreation Area of Pipestem Dam beginning at 11 a.m. The coach added a twist to the course this season, as it will be completed in one loop. The course at Parkhurst hosted the 2016 state cross country competitions and will do so again Oct. 27.
"I think it'll slow the times down a little bit, since there was no elevation gains in past years," Gardner said. "The runners will love to look over Pipestem Reservoir. It's a scenic route, and something unique compared to some of the other courses."