Jaclyn Means has always been a front runner in the eyes of Goddard cross country coach Brian Wetta. That's because Wetta has seen Means in practice, where she has excelled.
But after four meets, Means, a freshman, had only one competition to her name. She's no longer an unknown commodity though, after a three-race stretch that has established her as an outside contender for the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Div. II title Saturday in McPherson.
Means placed in the top five at meets hosted by Goddard, Newton and El Dorado, posting times of 15:57, 15:37 and 15:12. Along with junior Megan Ballinger, also a sub-16-minute runner, Goddard now has a potent duo.
"It gives us a great one-two punch, which is always great for the team score," Goddard coach Brian Wetta said. "Jaclyn is progressing very well. She's competing with the top runners in the area and we're excited to see what she can do."
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The breakout meet came at the Newton Invitational on Oct. 2, when Means finished four seconds ahead of Ballinger, as the teammates placed and fourth in the race.
It wasn't a surprise to Wetta, who said the two run at the same pace during workouts.
"She runs with Megan every day in practice," Wetta said. "We knew she had the potential, but now she's proven she can be a front runner in meets now. She's had three 15-minute runs in a row now."
What if? —As the postseason begins this week with league meets, John Murphy III, like many others, will be doing his own set of projections trying to figure out team points and where individuals might place.
The difference is Murphy, a home-schooled junior who runs for the Wichita Warriors, does not have a league meet to look forward to. Since he does not attend a KSHSAA member school, cross country season is over for Murphy.
Since he is one of the area's top runners — he ran a season-best time of 16:24 Saturday at El Dorado — it leaves a guessing game of how he would fare in a state meet.
"That would be really nice to run at state against the competition I would see," Murphy said. "It would be interesting to see how I would do. It would be a good experience and I think I would do well."
Eichkorn vs. Balch, Round V — North's Amber Eichkorn and Bishop Carroll's Kaelyn Balch, among the favorites to win the individual titles in Class 6A and 5A, will square off one more time this season.
Eichkorn has won three of the four meetings, but Balch has the pedigree to push for her first City League win. The league meet will be held Saturday at Cessna Activities Center.
Other league meets — Div. I and II of the AV-CTL will be Saturday at McPherson's Rolling Hills Golf Course, while Div. III and IV will be held today at Mulvane.
Also today are the league races for the Central Kansas League (in Sterling) and Heart of America (in Remington). The Central Plains League will hold its meet Saturday in Bluestem.