One Jayette got the opportunity to run in the Iowa Cross Country State Qualifier meet at Glenwood this year and that one did not disappoint. As the first through ninth runners cross the finish line at during that race on Thursday, Oct. 18, Perry hoped to see their colors on every one of the athletes. It wasn’t until the tenth and final individual state qualifier finished with a time of 20:44.70 that those hopes came to fruition.

It is an achievement in itself for any runner to continuously advance in the the various post season competitions, but being a freshman, Karolus knocked expectations right out of the water. Head Cross Country Coach Ryan Marzen said he was able to notice the improvement in Karolus’ ability, but knew she was capable of this accomplishment.

“Jaylene has always been a strong runner. We’ve (the coaches and I) tweaked some of her racing style this year. She used to go out too conservatively during her races,” Marzen said. “Throughout the season we continued to build her confidence by telling her to get out quickly with the leaders. The last two races she’s done that and has improved her time and place. As her experience grows she will become more confident in her ability to takes risks throughout the race.”

Not only has Karolus worked incredibly hard on land, but her other after school activities can be attributed to her athletic success this year. Being a member of the Perry Swim Team, Karolus has had the opportunity to gain experience and skill twice as much as most other student athletes. Head Swim Coach Jean Down and Coach Marzen have been able to work together along with Karolus to ensure a positive and successful season for her in both sports.

Also seeing a successful season were the other Bluejays who participated in Thursday’s race. Kailey Crawford came in 40th place with a time of 23:25.83 followed by Molly Lutmer at 53rd in 24:20.84. The next two on the girls team to cross the finished line were Criz Gomez and Kennedy Tunink at 60th and 61st with times of 25:23.23 and 25:26.85. The boys team saw a top 50 finisher as Mohamed Abdelnabi came in 42nd place with a time of 19:10.24. Ethan Miller and Hayden McFarland finished 57th and 59th with times of 19:45.39 and 19:51.65 followed by Mario Cruz who finished 62nd in 20:05.04.

With just nine days in between the qualifier race and the state meet, Marzen knows there isn’t much fitness that can be gained in a short amount of time, but plans to prepare Karolus just as well.

“We (the coaches and I) will focus on preparing her for the mental part of a championship race like this and of course getting out of the gate quickly,” Marzen said. “We have quite a few athletes excited to continue to train with her so she’ll be having some company this upcoming week.”

When asked what specifically he wants Karolus to do differently at state, Marzen emphasized the freshman’s ability to stay ahead.

“I would like her to take some chances for the state meet. Right from the gate the pace is set and I would like her to position herself early,” Marzen said. “She will need to get out even a little faster this upcoming race. Hopefully she gets stuck in a box with some other individual runners who she can compete with.”

The Iowa Cross Country State Meet will be on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge, IA .