Freshman runners set records
Errol Logue was beside himself when he looked at the times his runners turned in Thursday at the Girard Invitational.
In 37 previous seasons as Lansing High's cross country coach, Logue never had seen any debut quite like this. Freshman Lauren Jaqua, in her first high school race, blazed to a second-place finish in the girls' four-kilometer race. Her time of 17:08.58 tied the school record set by Bianca Manago at Lawrence's Rim Rock Farm in 2003.
"At about the mile mark it became a two-person race," Logue said, noting how Jaqua and eventual champion Alicia Whitehurst of Independence pulled away from the pack. "Jaqua was just a step behind her with a mile-and-a-half to go, and the Independence girl, showing her experience, sped up for about 50 yards and opened up a lead."
After Jaqua's record-tying race, it was freshman Brandon Craig's turn. Craig, also making his prep debut, placed sixth in the five-kilometer race in 17:59.20. It was the first time in Logue's coaching career that he'd had a freshman boy break the 18-minute barrier.
Kansas high school boys have been running five-kilometer races since 1989. That was after Logue's son Matt, a two-time individual state champion, already had completed his freshman year at LHS. Interestingly, Matt Logue is the head cross country coach at Girard, so he was on hand for Craig's race.
"I can't say he's the best freshman Lansing's ever had, since 1989 was the first year for running the 5K, but he's the only freshman I've ever had to break 18," Errol Logue said.
Although Lansing's top male and female finishers were freshmen, Logue said he was pleased to see both squads show depth.
It has been a few years since the Lansing girls were able to field a full varsity squad, but they did that Thursday and placed second as a team. Burlington won the team title with 35 points, one point ahead of LHS.
In addition to Jaqua's second-place finish, freshman Abbey Lozenski and senior Lori Flippo notched top-10 finishes. Lozenski placed fourth in 17:50.48 and Flippo was seventh in 18:39.22.
Sophomore Amanda Mitchell shook off nagging foot and knee injuries and placed 17th in 20:28.58 in what Logue called "the gutsiest performance of the day." Her sprint at the finish likely helped LHS keep its second-place team status ahead of third-place Girard.
"She's been so sore she can't even walk," Logue said of Mitchell, a standout 400-meter runner on the track team. "She took several girls ther at the end and put on a great show of guts. She ran 2 1/2 miles, but she made a quarter-mile race out of it. As a coach, when you see somebody with that kind of courage, you know you've got a good package there."
Sophomore Emilee Taylor placed 19th in 20:38.65, and junior Sandy Collier rounded out the squad by placing 24th in 21:14.49.
The Lansing boys placed third as a team with 70 points. Independence won the team title with 40 points. Parsons was second with 44.
Craig stole the spotlight for the LHS boys, but there were numerous breakthrough performances for the Lions. Among them was junior Griffin Davis, whose 14th place finish came in a personal-best time of 18:25.61. His previous best time of 18:44 came at the Kaw Valley League meet last year.
Junior Jim Mayes placed 18th in a personal-best time of 18:42.37. Sophomore Wes Appleget was 19th in a personal-best 18:55.49. Sophomore Matt McCurry was 24th in a personal-best 19:12.18. Sophomore Greg Bremser, in his first career cross country race, was 27th in 19:23.44.
Logue said he was extremely pleased to see so many of the Lions turn in personal-best times in the first meet of the year.
"These kids want to improve, and they're starting off where they left off last year," Logue said. "I don't think a lot of people realize how important that is, because a lot of times you start the year 30 seconds slower (than the year before). That puts them a step ahead already."
The LHS boys ran just six runners in the varsity race. Senior Brandon Mills was slated to run, but he was held out of the race because of an illness.
Mills and the rest of the Lions were back in action Wednesday at the Bonner Springs Invitational. For a full recap of that meet, go to lansingcurrent.com. The Lions race again Sept. 21 at the Tonganoxie Invitational.