A Kohut-Jackson will lead each Bomber team

The Ballard girls’ cross country team looks to give individual state qualifier Abby Kohut-Jackson some company at Fort Dodge, and the Bomber boys’ team will be in rebuilding mode in 2013.

Kohut-Jackson turned in a sensational freshman season a year ago for the Ballard girls’ team. She won the Raccoon River Conference individual championship in a season-best four-kilometer time of 14 minutes, 55 seconds, placed third at the Bombers’ state qualifying meet and took eighth at state in Class 3A.

This year will support Kohut-Jackson with better depth - sophomores Ashley Meldrum and Rachel Watters, and senior Meghan Hirsch.

Meldrum’s top time last year was 16:33, Watters’ fastest time was 17:21 and Hirsch peaked at 17:29.

Bomber head coach Scott Barth said junior Val Charter is also up in the top five for the girls’ team. Competition for the final two varsity spots will be between Shelby Petersen, Alyssa Black-Bear, Sara Hugee, Jennie Huxford, Nicole Kling, Kacie Thompson and Talia Vespestad.

"Both of our teams are young, but the girls have a bit more varsity racing experience returning and start the season with a more solid footing," Barth said. "After our No. 1 runner, we need to get a pack of runners in the right finishing positions. There are plenty of options that I see and the competition will be fierce with (what I am guessing) will be a constantly changing varsity lineup."

The boys’ team must replace a deep and talented senior class that led the Bombers to three straight team appearances at state. But with Kohut-Jackson’s older brother Luke leading the way, Barth feels the boys still have the potential to return to Fort Dodge.

"The boys will be extremely young, so it might take some time to get their feet under them, but they are good workers with great potential," Barth said. "I think by season’s end we will be highly competitive, and I hope for high place-finishes at both conference and the (state) qualifying meet."

Luke, a junior, came back from an injury last season to finish 11th at the RRC meet and he took 48th at state in 3A. His fastest five-kilometer time a year ago was 17:06 at the state meet.

The other top contenders for varsity positions heading into the season for the Bomber boys are junior Craig Jordan and sophomore Quentin Luke. Jordan was the team’s most improved runner last year and his best time was 17:56; Luke peaked with a time of 18:19.

The other four varsity spots will feature competition among Josh Norris, Sam Fletcher, Jacob Torkelson, Bryce Snell, Kyle Schilling, Evan Williams, Kaleb Wohlegemuth, Caleb Wuestenberg, Ian Fletcher and Eli Hartog. Schilling and Snell also ran at state last year, with Schilling matching his best time at 18:40 and Snell running a 20:01.

The Ballard cross country teams begin their season next Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the Dallas Center-Grimes Invitational. The meet will take place in Grimes and it is set to start at 5 p.m.