WINTERSET — Perry junior Atem Akok became the first Bluejay harrier to qualify for the Class 3A Boys State Cross Country Meet since 2004 by winning the regional meet with a time of 16 minutes, 24 seconds Oct. 24.
The top 10 individual finishers and top three teams qualified to run at Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge tomorrow. Perry had a pair of near-misses, as junior Keegan Pfau placed 13th in 17:45, with the Bluejay squad fourth overall.
Harlan won the meet with 63 points, with DC-G (96) and Creston (103) edging Perry (112) for the remaining spots that advanced. Ballard (133), Humboldt (147), Winterset (162), ADM (165), Glenwood (202), Saydel (227), Atlantic (345) and Madrid (368) completed the field.
"It was kind of a bittersweet ending for the boys," Bluejay head coach Jeff Fox said. "I thought we might get the top three, but it just did not happen. Atem did what he needed to do and three of the boys had personal records and the other times were good, too, so I could not really ask for more. We just got edged out, that is all."
Christian Morales was third for the Bluejays when he crossed in 17:51, with Oscar Chavez (37th, 18:30) and Cole Chance (18:42) also scoring for Perry. The Jays did not tabulate the places of Zach Roberts (56th, 19:04) or Richie Cazares (69th, 19:52).
"The boys left heavy-hearted, but not broken-hearted," Fox remarked, noting that six of his top seven runners will return next year. "I think they will take this as a learning experience. I am sure it will motivate them in the off-season."
The Perry girls had their season end at the meet, with Jayettes finishing last in a 13-team field with 349 points. Junior Leah Reuter was the top Jayette to finish, crossing 42nd in 16:50.
Humboldt (67), Winterset (81) and DC-G (97) advanced as teams, with Harlan (123), Ballard (126), Shenandoah-Essex (155), Creston (165), Glenwood (167), Atlantic (191), Madrid (263), ADM (270), Saydel (341) and Perry (349) also made the circuit.
"I saw a lot of improvement from everyone throughout the season," Jayette head coach Nathan Krohn said. "We need to work on numbers for next year as we are losing a lot of leadership from the girls that are seniors. We also had a lot of first time runners out this year and are hoping to continue our growth and work on running in the offseason."
Ashley McCord (70th, 18:07), Jessie Laughridge (72nd, 18:10), Taylor Lathrum (80th, 19:20) and Louise Peitz (85th, 20:05) joined Reuter in scoring for the Jayettes. Perry discarded the places of both Aurora Rodriguez (86th, 21:13) and Nicole Ayala (88th, 21:49).
"I am looking forward to next year with a lot of talent that is coming up from the junior high girls," Krohn said. "I am also looking forward to finding some hidden gems in the high school. Our summer running program will start in May and end in August and will be used to prepare the young ladies for another great cross country season."
Akok was followed across the line by Ballard junior Luke Kohut-Jackson (16:47) and Saydel junior Casey Roberts (17:01) as the top three boys, with the girls lead trio comprised of Ballard sophomore Abby Kohut-Jackson (14:32), Humboldt senior Sam Larson (14:40) and DC-G senior Madison Waymire (14:58).
Morales, Riley Kimrey, Luis Gonzalez, Yasmany Olmos and Swedish exchange student Gustav Winterberg were the Bluejay seniors this year, with Ayala, Laughridge, McCord, Peitz, Rodriguez and Irhet Navarrete the Jayette seniors.