Washington’s cross country girls remained on track for a run at a state title.
The girls finished second at the Class 4 Section 1 race Saturday at Parkway Central with a score of 61. Parkway West was the section champion with a score of 47. Mikayla Reed won the girls sectional race for Washington for the second year in a row. Noah Little, the only boys runner to advance from districts for the Blue Jays, finished 34th and did not qualify for the state meet.
Eureka (82) and Kirkwood (87) finished third and fourth in the girls race to also advance to state. Lindbergh finished fifth with 131 points, Jackson sixth at 136, Seckman seventh with 158 and Cor Jesu eighth at 204.
Reed’s time of 18:48.71 was a three-second improvement from her time in the same race a year ago. Following that run in 2016, she went on to win the individual state championship.
“Mikayla got out front and ran like we expected her to,” Head Coach Mike Olszowka said. “She is just now getting her legs under her and should be ready to roll by next week.”
Claire Ayers, a seventh-place finisher at the state level each of the past two seasons, ran sixth Saturday with a time of 19:40.31.
“Claire is coming on like a freight train,” Olszowka said. “Her strength is looking much better and she is getting to a position where we believe she can finish like she did last year.”
Morgan Holdmeyer (11th, 19:49.04) and Mia Reed (13th, 19:50.44) each made the top 15 for the Lady Jays. Holdmeyer will be running at the state meet for the fourth time in her career. She had her highest finish, 12th, a year ago.
“Morgan’s warrior mentality and constant movement up through the race is putting her in a great position for another all-state performance,” Olszowka said. “Mia had a bit of a down week; a lot of that is because we think she got out too hard in the first 400 meters. As she got out a little bit too hard, it really hurt her third mile. We will dial in her first mile this week and she has the possibility to do some great things as a freshman at the state meet.”
Another freshman, McKenna Jacquin, was the fifth runner for the Lady Jays. Jacquin finished nearly two full minutes better than her district time from the previous week, placing 44th with a time of 20:54.48. She finished ahead of the team’s usual No. 5 runner, Colleen Kuchem, who placed 60th with a time of 21:25.56 after losing a shoe early in the race.
“McKenna really stepped up,” Olszowka said. “She ran with a lot of confidence and that confidence is going to continue to grow as she moved up to our No. 5 finisher in place of Colleen. Colleen and Anna (Sullentrup) had very strong races and made a nice time drop from last week, especially for Colleen, considering what happened. She lost her shoe and the first 100 meters and had to stop to put it back on. After this 20-second delay she still managed to go through the mile at her usual pace. Problem is that to make up that time took a great toll on her heart rate and physical endurance. Without that we believe Colleen would have had the same time drop that McKenna had.”
Sullentrup finished 63rd with a time of 21:44.69. For Sullentrup, this will be her third trip to the state meet. It will be Kuchem’s second.
Lafayette’s Nassim Oufattole had the best time at 15:58.79.
Parkway West won the section with a score of 39. Lafayette (52), Kirkwood (93) and Marquette (96) each advanced as well. Fifth-place finisher Lindbergh (148), Seckman (155), Hillsboro (159) and Jackson (175) were eliminated from team competition.
Little was within 13 seconds of making the state cut for the Blue Jays. He finished with a time of 17:13.61, four places behind the No. 30 runner, Parkway West’s Zane Yates (17:01.08).
“He ran a great race and he left it all on the course running his best time of the year,” Olszowka said. “We use a lot of statistics from our past to compare and contrast. Knowing his sophomore season ended at sectionals with a time that was five seconds faster than Clayton (Duchatschek)’s time as a sophomore lets him see the position he can put himself into for the future.”
Duchatschek, who graduated after last season, twice qualified for the state competition during his career.