One could look at Perry’s ranking at the conference meet in Carroll for the Raccoon River Conference meet as a negative. Taking eighth place out of as many slots is hard to bounce back from, but to Jayettes head coach Matthew Hardy, it also meant that they were exactly where they should have been. Expectations were met, and in some cases exceeded.

“We were seeded to score 22 points, and scored 22 points,” Hardy said, complimenting the team meeting their marks against steep competition.

For star long-distance freshman Jaylene Karolus, facing faster groups has been a mixed experience as she explained ahead of Thursday’s state qualifying meet.

Going against faster girls changes the way she has to pace herself, throwing off her normal rhythm but she also noted that it pushes her to kick into a new gear. That was certainly the case at conference as she set a new school record in the 3000-meter with a time of 11:14.34, finishing fourth overall. That newly minted time cemented Karolus as one of the most unique talents in Perry history, crossing out the record that was set just last year by Grace Stewart as a senior.

“She’s definitely ahead of the previous freshman girls I’ve coached in her specialty event,” Hardy said, also noting he’d like to see her work on her strength for next season with hopes to find even more events to help the team in 2020.

Hardy said he anticipates Karolus to qualify for the state meet, as she’s currently seeded 24th overall, right on the cusp of the benchmark if everyone runs their previous season-best times. She is in a similar situation for the 1500 meter event which she also placed fourth overall at conference.

Working down the list of shorter events, Jasmine Shriver has been dealing with a litany of injuries all season and is seeded 69th in the 400-meter dash. But she said she is back to 100 percent heading into Thursday’s event, hopefully well enough to grab one of the two dozen slots. And like Karolus, running against faster lanes works to her advantage to pull off the upset and ultimately to improver her own time.

While the rest of the group is likely to only cheer on those for state qualifying spots, Hardy said he was also excited for Mary Ann Reisberg and Kennedy Tunink. They both set PRs in the 200 and 100-meter events respectively, and hopefully not for the last time with another chance in Carroll Stadium on Thursday.