THE JEFFERSON girls produced the best finish of any local cross country team at the state meets in Carrollton Saturday, taking fifth in Class AA.
The Lady Dragons got a pair of top 25 individual finishes to give Jefferson its second-straight top 10 team finish. The team finished with 168 points.
Reese Bowles ran a 22:02 to finish 16th, and Olivia Yates finished with a 22:55 to place 25th.
Others scoring were Morgan Mitchell (39th, 23:29), Sasha Parker (48th, 23:53) and Kaylynn Rainey (52nd, 23:59). Kelsey Reschly (78th, 25:01) also ran in the meet.
Wesleyan won the Class AA girls’ meet with 31 points. Jefferson was the second-highest placing public school team, behind only Bleckley County (124 points).
"Overall on Saturday the girls had a great race," Jeffers coach Katie Sellers said. "With the changes in the course this year it did add some seconds to their times, but for the most part they were proud of themselves. They are already planning on their return trip next season and discussing what they can do to get in the top four. The season ended just perfectly with a fifth place finish for the entire AA classification.
Meanwhile, Jefferson’s boys finished 21st in Class AA with 546 points. The Dragons were competing without top runner Cain Lorenzo, who was sidelined due to a season-long nagging injury.
Jonathan Ray led the Dragons with an 87th-place finish (20:21), followed by Jared Brown (97th, 20:38), Will Breese (108th, 20:49), Chandler Stephenson (129th, 21:17) and Andrew Ocock (137th, 21:23). Others competing were Pate Sheppard (141st, 21:30) and Josh Reid (148th, 21:46).
Westminster won the Class AA boys’ championship with 51 points.
As for the Class AAA races, Jackson County’s girls finished 11th in AAA with 330 points following a fifth-place finish last year in Class AA, Senior Sydney Baird led the Lady Panthers with a 22:40 in her final high school race to place 43rd. Monica Jimenez also broke 23:00, running a 22:58 to place 49th. Rounding out the scoring for Jackson County were Maddie Newton (54th, 23:15), Nikki Fowler (103rd, 25:14) and Emily Doeding (104th, 25:17). Others competing were Kourtney Axelberg (115th, 25:42) and Bailye Hendley (139th, 27:08).
East Jackson’s girls finished 14th in Class AA with 407 points.
Hayleigh Smith was the Lady Eagles’ top runner with a 68th place finish. She ran a 23:55. Others scoring were Maegan Davidson (79th, 24:33), Bailey Brooks (88th, 24:53), Kristin Whitlock (91st, 24:58) and Robin Adair (106th, 25:18). Caroline Flynn also competed, running a 27:02 (137th).
St. Pius X won the Class AAA girls’ title with 36 points.
The East Jackson boys finished near the middle of the pack in Class AAA, taking 16th, with only two runners breaking 19 minutes.
Noah Hulett ran an 18:38, leading the Eagles with a 51st place finish. Vladik Staples finished six spots lower with an 18:57. Following Hulett and Staples were Cory McClung (90th, 19:49), Tyler Cone (132nd, 20:53) and Quenton Rice (142nd, 21:00). Running but not scoring were Bobby Halkes (158, 21:34) and Daniel Reaves (181st, 22:45).
St. Piux X also won the boys’ Class AAA title with 36 points.