NEVADA – Another impressive performance was turned in by Ballard’s Abby Kohut-Jackson Monday at the Nevada Invitational.
Kohut-Jackson, the top-ranked girls’ cross country runner in Class 3A according to the Iowa Association of Track Coaches, went right with Gilbert star runner Grace Gibbons – the No. 1 runner in 2A – for most of the Class A girls’ race at Hickory Grove Park.
Kohut-Jackson had finished 21 seconds behind Gibbons when they ran at the Ballard Invitational two weeks earlier. On Monday, the Bomber sophomore ended up only nine seconds in back of Gibbons, crossing the finish line in 15 minutes, 25.5 seconds.
"I knew I was going to try and stay with her," Kohut-Jackson said. "I think my second mile was faster than my first and it’s usually the other way around, so I knew the pace was faster than I was used to. But I was going to stick with her as long as I could. Being close to someone like that is pretty good."
Gibbons official winning time was 15:16.2.
As a team Ballard placed fourth in Class A with 124 points. The Bombers came in behind two ranked teams as Gilbert (No. 4 in 2A) won with 38 points and Grinnell (No. 9 in 3A) took third with a score of 93.
Winterset finished second with 60 points.
The Ballard girls continued to run well as a pack behind Kohut-Jackson. The Bombers Nos. 2 through 6 runners finished within 33 seconds of each other.
That tight group will play a big role in whether the Ballard girls can qualify for state as a team after missing the last two years.
"We know it’s possible, but we’ve got to keep working hard if we’re going to do that," Kohut-Jackson said. "If we’re running girls together (in practice), I try to keep them up with me as long as I can and I make everyone work a little harder and get closer together."
Val Charter was the second Bomber to cross the finish line as she placed 25th in 18:21.2. Talia Vespestad was 29th with a time of 18:35.5 and Megan Hirsch took 33rd in 18:50.2.
Sarah Hugee and Rachel Watters were neck-and-neck for the final Ballard scoring spot. Hugee clocked in at 18:54.2 to place 35th and Watters crossed the line in 18:54.6 to place 36th.
Jennie Huxford ran a 46th-place time of 19:24.7 as the other varsity competitor for Ballard.
North Polk took seventh out of 10 scored teams in Class A with 183 points. The Comet runners continue to struggle getting it into peak form as their new strategy is to gradually reach top shape by the time the state qualifying meet rolls around.
"A lot of us have been disappointed with how our times have been in comparison to last year," North Polk senior Sybbie Sears said. "We still have time and we’re definitely counting down the days to the (state qualifying) meet. We’re just going to try and step it up these next few weeks."
Sears was the top North Polk runner at Hickory Grove as she completed the course in 17:20.0 to place 13th. Samantha Sinclair also ran a solid race for the Comets, finishing in 18:20.3 to place 24th.
Rachel Zimmerman ran a 42nd-place time of 19:08.2, Olivia Patterson clocked in at 19:36.3 to finish 50th and Ohara Lesher was 54th in 19:50.0 as the other scored Comet runners.
"I feel today went better than our previous meet at PCM," Sears said. "But it’s an entirely different course speed-wise and hill-wise. Mentally we are getting tougher and keeping our eyes ahead on the girls we need to be running with."
Collins-Maxwell-Baxter finished fourth out of 11 teams in Class B with 121 points. South Hardin scored 77 points to edge South Hamilton by four points for the Class B team title.
"We had our top seven girls under 19:29," CMB head coach Jerry Meinerts said. "I really think we will have seven girls under 18:30 by the end of the season."
Freshman Heather Jessen was the top Raider runner. Jessen came in just outside the top 10 as she clocked in at 17:46 to place 11th.
"Heather had a breakout performance for us," Meinerts said. "She is gaining confidence with every race she runs."
Chasity Moody ended up in the top 20 with a 19th-place time of 18:14. Winter Brown was 26th in 18:53, Stephanie Twohey took 22nd in 19:21 and Chantel Maxwell ran a 19:22 to place 33rd as the final scored CMB runner.
East Marshall’s Haley Fye won the Class B girls’ race in 16:53. South Hardin’s Claire Damon was the only other Class B runner to finish under 17 minutes as she clocked in at 16:58.
Final girls’ team scores
Class A: 1. Gilbert 38 points, 2. Winterset 60, 3. Grinnell 93, 4. Ballard 124, 5. Iowa Falls-Alden/AGWSR 129, 6. Nevada 148, 7. North Polk 183, 8. South Tama 208, 9. Carlisle 226, 10. Norwalk 242.
Class B: 1. South Hardin 77, 2. South Hamilton 81, 3. East Marshall 86, 4. CMB 121, 5. Roland-Story 122, 6. Colfax-Mingo 149, 7. BCLUW 151, 8. Madrid 161, 9. Prairie Valley 212, 10. West Marshall 212, 11. Colo-Nesco 281.
Individual results (4-kilometer)
Class A – Ballard and North Polk: 2. Abby Kohut-Jackson (B), 15:25.5; 13. Sybbie Sears (NP), 17:20.0; 24. Samantha Sinclair (NP), 18:20.3; 25. Val Charter (B), 18:21.2; 29. Talia Vespestad (B), 18:35.5; 33. Meghan Hirsch (B), 18:50.2; 35. Sarah Hugee (B), 18:54.2; 36. Rachel Watters (B), 18:54.6; 42. Rachel Zimmerman (NP), 19:08.2; 46. Jennie Huxford (B), 19:24.7; 50. Olivia Patterson (NP), 19:36.3; 54. Ohara Lesher (NP), 19:50.0; 57. Vanessa Erickson (NP), 20:07.9; 62. Jackie Moeckly (NP), 20:33.3.
Class B – CMB: 11. Heather Jessen, 17:46.0; 19. Chasity Moody, 18:14.0; 26. Winter Brown, 18:53.0; 32. Stephanie Twohey, 19:21.0; 33. Chantel Maxwell, 19:22.0; 35. Mackenzie Klemme, 19:28.0; 37. Anna Jones, 19:33.0.