Jaqua second, LHS girls first at league
Perry Lauren Jaqua found little reason to celebrate Thursday after finishing as the runner-up for the second straight year at the Kaw Valley League championships at Lake Perry.
"Not much of a change from last year," she said, sounding a bit downtrodden.
Then she got the news.
"Did we win?" the sophomore asked, skimming the list of team scores. "Awesome!"
Problem solved. The dose of good news - that the Lansing High girls finished as league champions for the first time since 2003 - was just the prescription necessary to make Jaqua smile.
"That's really good!" she said. "I'm so proud of our team."
It took a total team effort to make the championship possible. Competing without varsity regular Abbey Lozenski who missed her third straight meet with an ankle injury, the Lions looked to other runners to step up.
Jaqua covered the four-kilometer course in 16:24 and trailed only Perry-Lecompton sophomore Katie Hirsh, whose time of 16:09 was good for first place. The LHS supporting cast was equally stellar, however. Sophomore Sarah Nielsen was fourth in 16:40; sophomore Melanie Pilkington finished seventh in 16:58; sophomore Julia Winkler placed 13th in 17:25; freshman Cassie Roberts was 24th in 18:24; sophomore Kate Meara was 25th in 18:24; and sophomore Katherine Borderud was 42nd in 19:42.
Roberts and Meara both ran their fastest races of the season, and they were the biggest difference makers in Lozenski's absence because they ensured a fifth-runner finish that was fast enough to secure the championship.
"I told them they were the responsible ones," LHS coach Errol Logue said.
Lansing won the team title with 48 points, Mill Valley was second with 58 and Tonganoxie finished third with 66. Defending champion Basehor-Linwood placed fourth with 109.
For the LHS girls, the league title is the culmination of what has been Lansing's most successful girls cross country season in years. Nielsen said they're not finished, either.
"I'm just really happy with the team and how we've all done," she said. "We've all worked so hard and we really deserve this."
Up next for the Lions is the Class 5A regional meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at Wyandotte County Park. They join Bonner Springs, Harmon, Schlagle, Sumner Academy, Turner, Washington, Wyandotte, Bishop Miege, Mill Valley and defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas in a regional that will send the top four teams to state.