Oakwood/A-P senior keeps closing gap
CHRISMAN – If Justin Jones wasn't on the radar screen before Saturday, then he ran prominently into the picture with his performance in the 26th Chrisman Cow Chip Classic cross-country race.
The Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac senior was the runner-up in the flighted race for No. 1 runners. Throughout the 3-mile race, he kept pace with Effingham St. Anthony's Matt Feldhake, the defending Class A state champion.
Feldhake held off Jones by four seconds, winning with a 16-minute, 12-second time. At state last fall, Feldhake's win came by 13 seconds.
Jones' effort was an eye-opener – and not just for opposing competitors.
"I know the kind of runner he is," Jones said. "I'm completely surprised. I was hoping to be within 30 seconds of him."
Feldhake overtook Jones after the first mile, but he never built a sizable margin.
"As soon as he passed me, I put it in my mind to stay with him," Jones said. "I decided not to let him go."
Jones was followed into the finish chute by Monticello senior Brent Rhodes, whose third-place time was 16:22.
The Sages had individual titles from Josh Clark (No. 2 runners) and Alan Hollingsworth (No. 3 runners) and placed second in a meet that had entries from 24 schools. Cumberland had 21 points. Coach Jeff Butler's Monticello squad had 28.
Hollingsworth set the only record in the boys' division, lowering the time for No. 3 runners by 18 seconds to 16:34. The junior's time was the day's fourth-best mark regardless of flight.
Mahomet-Seymour matched its record-setting performance from 2006, sweeping to victory in all seven individual races to tie a meet record with a perfect score (7).
Bulldog junior Amy Clawson, who was sidelined for the majority of the season a year ago, was the top runner. She dominated the race for No. 1 runners, outdistancing runner-up Michelle Mehnert of Uni High by 54 seconds.
Clawson's time was 19:04. Mehnert's time was the day's next-best mark by a runner from any division.
Clawson withstood the pressure of trying to duplicate what six teammates had just accomplished by winning their races.
"I ran my race the way I was supposed to," said Clawson, who lowered her time 34 seconds from her season opener.
She was one of four Bulldogs who ran at least 300 miles during the summer. Second-flight winner Julie Jarrett was the leader of the pack, eclipsing 400 miles. Hannah Schaap (No. 3 runner) and Jessica Butcher (No. 5 runner) also logged considerable offseason miles.
Other M-S highlights were the record-setting time posted by freshman Brittany Bohn (No. 4 runners) and sophomore Katie Pittman's triumphant debut in the varsity lineup (No. 6 runners).
Bohn's time of 20:16 was the day's fifth-best time overall. Pittman posted the largest winning margin, finishing 2:31 ahead of the runner-up in the No. 6 race.
Following M-S in the team chase were Uni High (second with 18 points) and St. Joseph-Ogden (third with 29 points).