5A State XC: Kapaun’s Enriquez wins boys; Carroll’s Jackson wins girls
AUGUSTA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Erik Enriquez finished his high school career with a win. The Kapaun Mt. Carmel senior captured his first state championship Saturday at Four-Mile Creek in Augusta with a time of 15 minutes, 43.9 seconds.
“It feels amazing,” Enriquez said. “I knew that was the goal coming into this season and all the cards laid out right. I came into the race as the favorite and I just had to take it.”
The course featured many hills that seemed to stretch on and on. But the biggest challenge for Enriquez wasn’t the elongated hills, but the wind.
“The biggest challenge was the wind,” he said. “But it also worked in my favor. I knew that if I made a strong move when the wind was against us, then I’d make those other guys pay.”
He certainly did make them pay. The next closest finisher was Bishop Carroll’s Carson McEachern with a time of 15:51.84, almost 10 seconds behind. Thomas Hazen of St. Thomas Aquinas finished third in 15:57.61, Logan Seger of Aquinas finished fourth in 16:05.6, and DeSoto’s Carson Sturdy finished fifth in 16:11.13.
Enriquez stayed with the pack for the first mile, which is longer than he normally does, and took the lead at the two-kilometer mark of the five-kilometer race.
“I really didn’t close that door until about 3K,” he said. “This race was a little tougher because of the wind.”
Throughout the race, he thought about all the work he’d put in as motivation to stay in front.
“Anytime I thought about all the pressure, I thought about all the work I’d put in over these four years and all my teammates and coaches that have pushed me,” Enriquez said. “It helped me keep going. It helped me feel motivated, ready, and prepared.”
Aquinas won the team title with 32 points, St. James Academy took second with 77 points, Mill Valley finished third with 84 points, Carroll finished fourth with 139 and Maize finished fifth with 151.
Carroll’s Jackson wins second straight title, Maize South wins team
Hope Jackson did not feel great for the majority of the 5A girls' championship.
Earlier this year she was diagnosed with a vocal chord dysfunction that, as she explained, is like asthma, but instead the vocal chords seize up when she runs.
“It was really hard to breathe,” Jackson said. “It’s just hitting me really hard.”
Jackson fought through and still dominated, winning her second consecutive state title with a time of 18 minutes, 58 seconds.
However, after the first third of the race, she didn’t go as hard she wanted to.
“I felt like I was just running tempo because I just couldn’t go any faster,” Jackson said. “It’s crazy that I can still win while doing that, but I just couldn’t breathe. It was a rough race.”
Mill Valley’s Katie Schwartzkopf took second with a time of 19:04.16, Carroll’s Landon Forbes finished third in 19:13.74, Andover’s Elizabeth Vetter finished fourth in 19:17.64, and Maize South’s Alexa Rios finished fifth in 19:19.49.
“It feels so good,” Jackson said. “I’m so excited that I finished and that I won again.”
Her strategy was to come in, take the early lead and hold it throughout. Although that’s what did happen, Jackson found it profoundly difficult to execute.
“My vocal chords made it a lot harder,” she said. “I couldn’t run as fast.”
Maize South won the team title by one point over Bishop Carroll 58-59. The Mavericks placed three runners in the top 11, perhaps none more important than 11th-place finisher Britton Kelly, who caught Blue Valley Southwest’s Giovanna Loffredo at the very end to beat her by two-tenths of a second to score nine points instead of 10.
BV Southwest finished third with 105 points, Mill Valley was fourth with 130 and Kapaun finished fifth with 133 points.
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