Cape Central's Neikirk shines, Jackson cross country showcases depth at Jackson Invitational

Saturday, August 26, 2017
Jackson's Ean Buffington, left, and Cape Girardeau Central's Jared Neikirk run in the Jackson Invitational senior boys cross country race Saturday at Jackson City Park.
Fred Lynch

It was like stalking prey.

Cape Girardeau Central's Jared Neikirk positioned himself, held his spot and pounced when he saw the opening.

At the end, Neikirk got a quality win early in the cross country season as he passed and pulled away from a pair of Jackson runners -- reigning Semoball Awards Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year Ean Buffington and Gage Kinder -- to win the boys senior race at the 23rd Annual Jackson Invitational on Saturday at Jackson City Park.

Neikirk's time of 12:06 was 30 seconds better than runner-up Buffington on the 2.35-mile course.

Kinder finished in 12:59.

Jackson's Julia Kidwell, left, leads St. Vincent's Corin Carroll, and Jackson's Abby Sadler and Margo Motes, in the Jackson Invitational senior girls cross country race Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 at Jackson City Park.
Fred Lynch

More impressive was that Neikirk, a junior, took on runners a year ahead of him. That didn't matter on Saturday.

"I let [Buffington] go out, but I kept him on a leash," Neikirk said. "I didn't want him to get too far ahead of me to where it would be too difficult for me to catch up, just mentally.

"Me and Ean were neck and neck, and he made a move at about the mile mark, a bit too early and a bit too hard. I came toward the last little stretch -- the last 0.3 miles -- and that's when I made my move. I just accelerated around each and every corner until by the time we were going to the finish line I had it in the bag."

The event, which featured 20 schools this year, broke competition down by grade, with four races for each gender.

The Jackson girls, hosting the event coming off a team state championship in 2016, finished first in the junior race, second in the senior and third in the sophomore and freshmen races.

The top time for the Indian girls was by junior Kennedy Bauer, who ran a 15:19 and finished second in her race, 27 seconds behind Fox's Amie Martin.

"We're looking for big things from Kennedy," Jackson coach Andrea Talley said. "She isn't a high mileage runner; she's had some problems so she's a little bit fearful of doing a lot of training, but gradually she is able to increase a little bit. I think she'll have a great year and I think this is going to be a turning point for her. She's always been in the shadow of all the other upperclassmen, so she was kind of like the little kid out there rounding out the varsity, but now I think she's ready to make the move to No. 1."

Julia Kidwell, a senior, ran third in her race, crossing the line in 15:22, which was 2 minutes, 6 seconds faster than her mark at the Invitational a year ago.

"The key for her is that she ran track for the first time this spring. It was like a transformation came over her," Talley said. "I don't think she believed how good she could really become."

Faith Littleton, who is working her way back from a bout of mononucleosis, finished seventh for Jackson in the junior run, and Elizabeth Steele ran third in the freshman race, which was contested over a shorter 1.95-mile course.

The host boys won the freshman team standings, finishing second at the senior and junior levels and third in the sophomore competition.

Central's girls won the freshman standings, led by top-five runs by McKenzie Williams and Danielle Foutz; the first-year boys finished third, prompting excitement for the future of the Tiger program.

"They're fantastic," Neikirk said of his young teammates. "And they haven't even been able to chisel away at their abilities. They have so much unearthed potential.

"Our team is looking really good this year. We have a lot of new talent coming in and we have a lot of potential -- we could go to state this year. ... The future's looking very bright or Cape Central."

Tigers junior Alyssa Davis ran a 15:50 to finish fourth in girls' competition.

St. Vincent finished fourth in the team standings in both senior contests, led by Corin Carroll's fifth-place result (15:53). The Indians placed six senior girls in the top 25.

Andrew Lipe was the top senior boys finisher for St. Vincent, running a 10th-place 13:36. Joe Baer landed ninth in the junior race.

The Jackson Invitational senior boys cross country race begins Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 at Jackson City Park.
Fred Lynch

Oak Ridge's Mason Keith won the boys freshman race -- the closest contest of the day -- edging Potosi's Will Jarvis by two seconds with a time of 11:23.

Jackson place a pair of top-five finishers in that run, with newcomers Evan Stephens and Jack McCormack.

Advance's top runner of the day was freshman Braden Driskell (seventh), while Perryville's best placing came from Courtney Wright (seventh) in the sophomore girls.

For Buffington and Kinder, despite missing out on a victory, just getting to run in the season-opening event at home is a good start after both have battled injuries. This is the first time since his freshman year that Buffington was healthy enough to compete in the Jackson Invitational.

"Ean, he's such a great leader, and Gage has been a great leader as well," Talley said. "I'm just so happy they're both healthy. Gage has had his fair share of knocks in the road too. In fact, he lost most of last season. So to have those two back and healthy leading the team, it's really exciting.

"Ean, he admittedly made some mistakes in the race, and now he knows what he needs to do to correct those mistakes. They'll be a force to be reckoned with. Now we'll just need to see who goes with them on the varsity team."

The hectic business of running the Invitational meant the Jackson coaches didn't get a good chance to truly assess their team's performances on the day. That comes next, as they compare times to training cycle projections to determine who is ahead, who is behind and who might need to be pushed more in practice.

Talley's overall impression, though, was positive.

"I think, for the first meet, everyone did fine," Talley said. "We told them to relax. The key word for this meet was relaxation. We just wanted to ... run within ourselves, is the right way to say it, so we can have a great week of training and prepare for Memphis (at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic).

"From what I saw, I think we did pretty well for the first meet. We're happy."

So was Neikirk, who enjoyed victory by reminding himself that there are bigger things ahead.

"My expectations here were just to do as well as I possibly could, and I was pretty impressed with the results," Neikirk said.

"It feels good, but this isn't the race that matters. The races that matter are further along and I still have a lot I need to learn and I still have a lot I need to work on."

SENIORS

BOYS

Team scores -- 1. Kirkwood 28, 2. Jackson 78, 3. Mehlville 96, 4. St. Vincent 98, 5. Fox 107, 6. Dexter 120, 7. Zalma 156

Individual Top 25

1. Jared Neikirk (Cape) 12:06; 2. Ean Buffington (J) 12:36; 3. Gage Kinder (J) 12:59; 4. David Decker (Kirk) 13:04; 5. Josh Robertson (Kirk) 13:05; 6. Kyler Kabernat (RS) 13:07; 7. Drew Tucker (Kirk) 13:24; 8. Caleb Jarvis (Potosi) 13:25.21; 9. Ethan Webb (Fox) 13:25.64; 10. Andrew Lipe (SV) 13:36; 11. John Williams (Mehl) 13:48; 12. Jake Hibbard (Kirk) 13:56; 13. Dominic Bottom (Kirk) 14:03; 14. Bela Cseri (Kirk) 14:05; 15. Caiden Owens (Kirk) 14:07; 16. Ashton Braddock (Kirk) 14:08; 17. Ray Bonner (Fox) 14:10; 18. Dawson Kastin (Dex) 14:19.46; 19. Devin Friedmeyer (Crystal) 14:19.80; 20. Tennessee Ervin (Jeff) 14:27; 21. Dominic Sauer (SV) 14:34; 22. Luca Goodrich (Dex) 14:38; 23. Kris Triggs (Mehl) 14:42; 24. Damian Tucker (J) 14:45; 25. Simon Grace (Valle) 14:47

GIRLS

Team scores -- 1. Kirkwood 12, 2. Jackson 28, 3. Rockwood Summit 30, 4. St. Vincent 40, 5. Fox 83, 6. Oak Ridge 93

Individual Top 25

1. Hannah Santoni (Kirk) 15:00; 2. Emily Ladd (Dex) 15:14; 3. Julia Kidwell (J) 15:22; 4. Catherin Skubiz (Kirk) 15:26; 5. Corin Carroll (SV) 15:53; 6. Madison DeClue (Potosi) 15:59; 7. Kate Hennessy (Kirk) 16:13; 8. Tabby Stowens (Kirk) 16:14; 9. Lizzy Eastland (RS) 16:17; 10. Natalie Vincen (RS) 16:18; 11. Melanie Brekrus (RS) 16:20; 12. Margo Motes (J) 16:24; 13. Abby Sadler (J) 16:54; 14. Lindsay Poitras (Fox) 17:23. 15. Jordan Layton (OR), 18:05; 16. Abigail Schremp (SV) 18:17; 17. Grace Essig (RS) 18:44; 18. Abbey Holdinghausen (Crystal) 18:46; 19. Abbey Hotop (SV) 18:57; 20. Courtney Brewer (SV) 19:00; 21. Emily Prost (SV) 19:01.03; 22. Anna Miget (SV) 19:01.52; 23. Maya Pritchard (Kirk) 19:03; 24. Madeline Poplovoski (RS) 19:06; 25. Brianna Hamm (Kirk) 19:09

JUNIORS

BOYS

Team scores -- 1. Kirkwood 15, 2. Jackson 60, 3. Rockwood Summitt 66, 4. St. Vincent 93, 5. Mehlville 113, 6. Delta 156

Individual Top 25

1. Christian Baker (Kirk) 12:18; 2. Darren Reese (Potosi) 12:44; 3. Jacob Even (Kirk) 12:48; 4. Jacob White (Kirk) 12:53; 5. Dylon Connor (RS) 13:07; 6. Landon Carlton (J) 13:08; 7. Finn Sinner (Kirk) 13:11; 8. Kaelin Triggs (Mehl) 13:14; 9. Joe Baer (SV) 13:16; 10. Scout Pettit (J) 13:26; 11. Devin Maelelin (RS) 13:40; 12. Kebon Gvresgerd (Kirk) 13:47; 13. Gavin Jones (J) 13:50; 14. Ethan Lohdell (Kirk) 13:56; 15. Isaiah McMullen (Mehl) 14:03; 16. Henry Loida (Kirk) 14:04; 17. Keegan Donovan (Kirk) 14:06; 18. Tommy Damian (Kirk) 14:07; 19. Lee Lueker (Kirk) 14:08; 20. Drew Kranawetter (OR) 14:09; 21. Caleb Roth (SV) 14:18; 22. Kyle Steinbecker (SV) 14:24.22; 23. Jake Van Cardo (RS) 14:24.33; 24. Quintin Stepp (Kirk) 14:24.50; 25. Jon Berra (Fox) 14:25

GIRLS

Team scores -- 1. Jackson 36, 2. Jefferson 38, 3. Crystal City 43, 4. Rockwood Summit 45, 5. Kirkwood 50, 6. Fox 52, 7. St. Vincent 58, 8. Valle Catholic 63

Individual Top 25

1. Amie Martin (Fox) 14:52; 2. Kennedy Bauer (J) 15:19; 3. Meredith Lang (Kirk) 15:40; 4. Alyssa Davis (Cape) 15:50; 5. Bree Allgier (Potosi) 15:55; 6. Jenny Reeb (RS) 15:57; 7. Faith Littleton (J) 16:01; 8. Jordan Heacock (Jeff) 16:25.39; 9. Cheney Ervin (Jeff) 16:25.77; 10. Genevieve Lipe (SV) 16:40; 11. Taylor Sloan (Crystal) 17:35; 12. Emma Shirley (Crystal) 17:57; 13. Kate Muellen (Kirk) 18:02; 14. Madison Otte (Valle) 18:17; 15. Patience Vandermierden (Leo) 18:18; 16. Paige Mason (Fox) 18:20; 17. April Flieg (Valle) 18:34.78; 18. Taylor Seyer (OR) 18:34.98; 19. Megan Lipe (SV) 18:43; 20. Taylor Reynolds (Crystal) 18:44; 21. Lindsey Umfleet (Zalma) 18:49; 22. Kassi Bright (Zalma) 19:06; 23. Jenna Dynoff (Kirk) 19:14; 24. Hannah Pennington (Kirk) 19:18; 25. Josephine Mijarez (Jeff) 19:25

SOPHOMORES

BOYS

Team scores -- 1. Kirkwood 16; 2. Rockwood Summit 85; 3. Jackson 125; 4. Oak Ridge 129; 5. St. Vincent 170; 6. Jefferson 183; 7. Cape Central 205

Individual Top 25

1. Martin Strong (Kirk) 12:38.49; 2. A.J. Wallach (Kirk) 12:58; 3. Brett Lynch (Potosi) 13:08; 4. Preston Dickerson (Potosi) 13:35; 5. Cameron Howard (Fox) 13:40; 6. Peter Hooks (Kirk) 13:43; 7. Keelan McPhecters (Kirk) 13:44; 8. Luke Wendel (J) 13:55.39; 9. Richi Inja (RS) 13:55.72; 10. Will McQuade (J) 13:56; 11. Nathan Lanigne (RS) 13:57; 12. A.J. Eckstein (Kirk) 19:02; 13. Ethan Ripperdan (Kirk) 14:05; 14. Chance Oehlert (Perry) 14:13.24; 15. Jack Bugee (Kirk) 14:13.65; 16. Henry Ebert (Kirk) 14:15; 17. Kaleb Owens (Kirk) 14:17; 18. John Engelmohr (Kirk) 14:18; 19. Daniel Young (Kirk) 14:19; 20. David Layton (OR) 19:20.02; 21. Larry McMillin (Fox) 14:20.37; 22. Zach LeGrand (OR) 14:21; 23. Ziya Hadzic (Mehl) 14:24; 24. Cooper George Lander (Kirk) 14:26; 25. Nolan Roth (Jeff) 14:27

GIRLS

Team scores -- 1. Kirkwood 19, 2. Mehlville 21, 3. Jackson 40, 4. Rockwood Summit 42, 5. Fox 50, 6. Dexter 71, 7. Valle Catholic 113

Individual Top 25

1. Emma Hubbell (Mehl) 15:32; 2. Emily Pesselato (Mehl) 15:48; 3. Elisa Holtzman (RS) 16:05.04; 4. Kayley Heeter (Potosi) 16:05.70; 5. Ally Gooden (Kirk) 16:39; 6. Grace Murphy (Kirk) 17:00; 7. Courtney Wright (Perry) 17:02; 8. Julia Patt (Kirk) 17:11; 9. Adara Webb (Fox) 17:21; 10. Margo Nea (Dex) 17:23; 11. Kayden Fisher (J) 17:50; 12. Zoe Swearinger (RS) 17:55; 13. Abby Dickinson (Kirk) 18:00; 14. Mary Calvin (J) 18:02; 15. Rilee Lecki (J) 18:13; 16. Katy Rudolph (Kirk) 18:18; 17. Meredith Millstone (Kirk) 18:20; 18. Missy Hanek (Mehl) 18:23; 19. Meg Murphy (Kirk) 18:32; 20. Carly Wright (Fox) 18:43; 21. Maddi Keisker (Fox) 18:49; 22. Macie Hoskins (Cape) 19:09; 23. Skylar Ponder (OR) 19:16; 24. Kyla Beel (Leo) 19:17; 25. Elizabeth Dunn (Perry) 19:19

FRESHMAN

BOYS

Team scores -- 1. Jackson 34; 2. Kirkwood 56; 3. Cape Central 108

Individual Top 25

1. Mason Keith (OR) 11:23; 2. Will Jarvis (Potosi) 11:25; 3. Evan Stephens (J) 11:26; 4. Jack McCormack (J) 11:30; 5. Hunter Griffin (Potosi) 11:32; 6. Philip Marshall (OR) 11:41; 7. Braden Driskill (Adv) 11:46; 8. Thaddaeus Morgan (Kirk) 11:48; 9. Clayton Greenlee (J 11:52; 10. Sam Bradshaw (RS) 11:53; 11. Auggie Pheagley (Cap) 11:59; 12. Nathan Caldwell (Cape) 12:00; 13. Carter Donton (Dex) 12:04; 14. Gavin Cartwright (Dex) 12:04; 15. Luc Daniels (Kirk) 12:08; 16. Will Birmingham (Kirk) 12:14; 17. Elliot Notrica (Kirk) 12:17; 18. Eli Jones (J) 12:17; 19. Jack Henry (Kirk) 12:22; 20. Matthew Linhares (Kirk) 12:23; 21. Billy O'Keeffe (Kirk) 12:25; 22. Andrew Ellinghouse (Dex) 12:26; 23. Jake Eastin (J) 12:29; 24. Josh Hoog (Valle) 12:40; 25. Will Arbanas (Kirk) 12:41

GIRLS

Team scores -- 1. Cape Central 19, 2. Kirkwood 24, t-3. Rockwood Summit 38, t-3. Jackson 38, 5. Valle Catholic 40

Individual Top 25

1. Sarah Hickenbothen (Kirk) 13:00; 2. McKenzie Williams (Cape) 13:38; 3. Elizabeth Steele (J) 13:58; 4. Hallie Portell (Potosi) 14:21.08; 5. Danielle Foutz (Cape) 14:21.55; 6. Claire Guillemet (Kirk) 14:23; 7. Abbi Riek (Mehl) 14:31; 8. Cierra Lewis (Potosi) 14:35; 9. Nicole Valle (Valle) 14:37; 10. Sophie McAdams (J) 14:38; 11. Bridget Reichmuth (RS) 14:43; 12. Jaclyn King (Cape) 14:54; 13. Skye Garrett (RS) 15:04; 14. Joy Missey (RS) 15:06; 15. Mary Roth (Valle) 15:24; 16. Rachelle Valle (Valle) 15:26; 17. Maggie Pennington (Kirk) 15:32; 18. Era Oberle (Valle) 15:49; 19. Sophia Essig (RS) 16:05; 20. Kylie Hawk (RS) 16:11; 21. Julia Pitz (Kirk) 16:36; 22. Emily Landewee (Delta) 16:43; 23. Jade Antezanna (Kirk) 16:47; 24. Izzy Salva (Kirk) 16:51; 25. Juli Evans (J) 16:57

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