Two weeks ago, Layna Hoffer and Brooklyn Nygaard were in a tight race for the Blue Jays' No. 1 runner spot.

In that race, it was Nygaard who prevailed but on Oct. 2 in Rugby -- the tables turned.

"It's good to see a little bit of competition between the two for that first-place spot," JHS head cross-country coach Gardner said. "In the end, it's just going to make them both better."

The Blue Jay XC team wrapped up its regular season at the Rugby Booster Club Invitational at the Rugby Golf Course. Hoffer, a seventh grader, placed fifth in the field of 127 runners, pacing out a 20-minute, 47-second 5K race. Nygaard crossed the line nine seconds later to garner the sixth-place title. The two middle schoolers have consistently turned in times below the 21:30 mark.

As a team, the Jays placed third with 136 points. Rugby took its home invite with a score of 71.

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Brynn Hanson of Des Lacs-Burlington was the top finisher on the girls' side, completing the course in 19:56. Colt Spotted Bear of New Town took first place for the boys with a time of 16:56.

The JHS boys team wound up second out of the 29 competing teams with a score of 93. Of all the XC teams competing, Jamestown was the only Class A program.

Jamestown will travel to Dickinson Saturday for the WDA meet. The races are slated to begin at 1 p.m. at Heart River Golf Course. The Blue Jays will host the state cross country meet on Oct. 22 and 23 at Parkhurst Recreation Area. The Class B schools will compete on Friday while the Class A teams will race on Saturday.

At the start of the season, Gardner was down four of his 2020 top-five girl runners due to graduation and other commitments. The head coach naturally had Nygaard, an All-WDA team member as a seventh grader, pegged as the team's No. 1 runner but did not know who might fill out the rest of the roster.

Turns out it was the youngins who did the most effective work on the course for the Jays.

"The youth movement continues," Gardner said of the Jays' performance in Rugby. "We had another seventh grader, Jozie Davis, crack our top five today and ending up third overall against some pretty tough Class B teams (was impressive). Overall, it was a great day."

Emma Flieth, Jayla Hoffer and Davis were the other three runners who contributed to the Jays' team score in Rugby. Davis' 24:05 race was the first 5K of her cross country career. Flieth, an eighth grader, strode to a 22:54, 23rd-place finish while freshman Jayla Hoffer raced to finish in the mid-23s.

Heading into the postseason, Gardner said he might also field senior Maddy Orr and junior Jera Truax. Orr is coming off an injury but is expected to race at WDAs.

Who will compete where is also a mystery when looking at the Blue Jay boys' team.

"I said early on that we needed to start closing the gap between those four runners and Cullen (Flieth)," Gardner said. "I think they are starting to work on that and work together, keep each other in sight and pull each other along. That was good to see."

Flieth, the Jays' lone senior, has been the Blue Jays' top racer all season, earning his stripes once again in Rugby, finishing the 5K in 17:45.

Jamestown had four runners between 19th and 26th place Saturday. Ethan Igl was the Jays' No. 2 runner, crossing the line five seconds shy of the 19-minute mark. After missing a couple of meets due to an injury and heading into postseason competition, Gardner said it was good to see the junior back competing at a 5K distance.

The No. 3 runner was Sam Anteau who posted a time of 19:00.55. Gardner said Anteau has been unable to nail down a steady pace and place the last few meets. Heading into the two biggest meets of the year, Gardner said he hopes to see Anteau finishing in the low 19s.

Seventh grader Jack Shauer (19:08) and freshman Caleb Fabian (19:17) rounded out the Jays' top five.

Gardner said he hopes that a few of his top five can crack into the West's top 20 for All-WDA honors.

"Runners like Cullen and Layna and Brooklyn all have a shot at earning (all-WDA honors) as well," Gardner said "WDA is tough every year. If we could scratch out one of those middle spots on both sides would be pretty awesome."

WDAs and State won't be an easy race for any of the Jays, but Gardner is determined to put the young team in the best position possible to accomplish their goals.

"The goal is to maintain our intensity but reduce the volume a little bit," Gardner said. "If they were running seven half-mile repeats, maybe we'd go down to five. We still want to keep that intensity and keep that aggressive race pace we are at.

"Those are the types of adjustments we'll be making in the next couple of weeks."

Rugby Booster Club Invitational

at Rugby Golf Club

Team results

Boys: 1. New Town 61; 2. Jamestown 93; 3. Hillsboro/Central Valley 114; 4. Killdeer 185; 5. Griggs/Midkota 195; 6. Rugby 220; 7. South Prairie/Max 237; 8. Grafton 243; 9. Langdon/EM 313; 10. Burke Central/Kenmare 322; 11. Des Lacs/Burlington/Lewis 322; 12. Surrey 335; 13. Shiloh Christian 375; 14. Southern McClean 416; 15. Carrington 426; 16. Stanley 466; 17. Bishop Ryan 505; 18. Velva 517; 19. Bowbells 540; 20. Pembina County North 553; 21. Hebron 579; 22. Central McLean 584; 23. Garrison 634; 24. Dunseith 642; 25. Glenburn 649; 26. Four Winds/Minnewaukan 683; 27. Williams County 698; 28. Harvey/Wells County 704; 29. Berthold 738.

Girls: 1. Rugby 71; 2. Hillsboro/Central Valley 91; 3. Jamestown 136; 4. Grafton 156; 5. Southern McClean 182; 6. New Town 210; 7. Stanley 225; 8. Des Lacs/Burlington/Lewis 227; 9. Pembina County 239; 10. Shiloh Christain 261; 11. Killdeer 303; 12. Surrey 418; 13. Carrington 457; 14. Bishop Ryan 487; 15. South Prairie/Max 489; 16. Langdon/EM 497; 17. Burke Central/Kenmare 503; 18. Velva 515; 19. New Rockford-Sheyenne 573; 20. Central McLean 575; 21. Garrison 601; 22. Harvey/Wells County 602; 23. Parshall 603; 24. Rolla 615; 25. Four Winds/Minnewaukan 625; 26. Mandaree 629.

Top-10 finishers

Boys: 1. Colt Spotted Bear, NT, 16:56; 2. Christian Brist, HCV, 17:25; 3. Lucas Vollmer, SUR, 17:34; 4. Owen Duttenhefner, KIL, 17:35.25; 5. Kaden Fuller, SC, 17:35.87; 6. Cullen Flieth, JHS, 17:45; 7. Austin Dibble, RUG, 17:49; 8. Ethan Suda, GRAF, 18:06; 9. Jekori Dahlen, KIL, 18:08.10; 10. Xavier Bell, NT, 18:08.98. Girls: 1. Brynn Hanson, DLB, 19:56; 2. Hannah Westin, SC, 20:01; 3. Brooklyn Bartsch, RUG, 20:29; 4. Myla Kaldor, HCV, 20:34; 5. Layna Hoffer, JHS, 20:47; 6. Brooklyn Nygaard, JHS, 20:56; 7. Emma Wheeling, NT, 21:13; 8. Paige Cotton, HCV, 21:20; 9. Mallory Alfson, HCV, 21:26; 10. Maycie Talbott, SP/M, 21:34.

Blue Jay results

Boys: 6. Flieth 17:45; 19. Igl 18:55; 20. Anteau 19:00; 22. Schauer 19:08; 26. Fabian 19:17; 30. Stoudt 19:23; 44. Gradin Thorlakson 19:57; 51. Austin Andersen 20:17; 62. Raine Job 20:48; 82. Noah Lynch 21:33; 90. Kamden Herzig 21:55; 101. Ryley Smith 22:25; 121. August Harms 23:55. Girls: 5. Hoffer 20:47; 6. Nygaard 20:56; 23. Emma Flieth 22:24; 49. Jayla Hoffer 23:36; 53. Jozie Davis 24:05.97; 69. Clara Harms 24:51; 73. Kyra Hoffer 25:01; 120. Ella Thomas 30:39.