Go ahead. Tell Jaden Christ race car drivers aren't athletes.
The Jamestown High School senior has been doing his part to quell that longstanding debate in 2019. After picking up his first career WISSOTA Street Stock feature win back in May, Christ has tallied the last seven goals scored by the 4-1 Blue Jay boys soccer team this fall, including a hat trick in last Thursday's 3-1 defeat over Bismarck Legacy at Rotary Field.
Christ has found the back of the net nine times through Jamestown's first five matches, nearly doubling the 12 career goals he had entering the season in a lightning-fast 14 days. But what else should really be expected from a kid who enjoys horsepower and standing on the gas pedal?
"Right now I'm a better soccer player," Christ said at Jamestown Speedway last Saturday. "But I hope to be, one day, as good with my feet in the car as I am with a ball."
Christ first jumped into a go-kart at age 10 before driving street cars on the big track beginning in August 2017. He's followed in his family's footsteps in that regard. Christ's grandfather, Chuck Christ, and his father, Billie Christ, were both behind the wheel of race cars Saturday in Jamestown.
In his second full season in the streets this summer, Jaden has collected eight top-10 feature finishes and four top-fives, including his win at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He's also been behind the wheel of an INEX Legend car this summer.
"He's really picked up both (sports) this year," said Billie Christ, a former Jamestown Stock Car Stampede B-mod champion. "It's nervewracking both here at the track and there (at soccer). He's meshing with his teammates this year really well, and he's there to finish what everybody else starts."
Dad brings up a solid point. Christ has really been the beneficiary of solid team chemistry within the Blue Jays in the early going.
JHS boys soccer coach Mark Sherfy explained the Blue Jays have, to this point, excelled at starting their offensive attack early, which has allowed the team's midfielders and forwards -- like Christ -- to take shape and provide solid goal-scoring opportunities. The Jays were picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the West Region this fall by conference coaches but currently sit second in the standings.
"The thing that they've really done in the back is aimed to possess the ball and start the attack from the back third of the pitch," Sherfy said. "Starting our attack in the back gives a guy like Jaden -- who's ready to run and ready to go -- an opportunity to get ready and find a gap and find a way to get through."
The strategy has worked brilliantly, both for the Jays and for Christ.
"The kid's found an intensity that's really working to our benefit as a team," Sherfy said. "He's just a workhorse."
Christ said he began playing soccer at age 5, joining rec teams organized through the Jamestown Soccer Club, and he's been playing with the Jays' current group of seniors for nearly as long. Along with Christ, Blue Jay seniors this season include Matt Morin, Max Kupitz, Luca Flann, Ben Sletto, Benji Schuldeisz and Cameron Winstead.
"We've been playing soccer together since we were 8-9 years old," Christ said. "We know each other's best assets and we cash in other teams' mistakes."
Jamestown played to a record of 2-11-1 last fall but finished both 2016 and 2017 with eight victories. The Jays qualified for the program's fourth state tournament in 2016.
"It's pretty much been a dream season of mine," Christ said of his fast start. "I've just been trying to get better and better every year and finish out my senior year the best I can."
Christ said he plans to attend college to study agronomy and will continue his racing career long after high school. The Blue Jays take on Minot (1-3-1) tomorrow night at Rotary Field beginning at 7 p.m.
"You can only look one day, or one match, in advance. There's still a lot of soccer left," Sherfy said. "We gotta keep the guys healthy with a positive focus in knowing that they can achieve great things if they stick to the fundamentals of the game."
Christ, who played a minor role on 2016's state tournament team, is hoping it all leads back to the state's final tournament in October.
"Prepare for the next team and just always be ready," Christ said. "Score as many goals as I can and try to get to that state tournament."