First-time selections dominate All-County boys cross country team
Cross country competition for the Jackson County boys this season was defined by team success as none of the three teams had a true “front-runner,” but the Cobras and Panthers in particular showed a penchant for being able to “pack it in” no matter the size of the race.
In Jackson Heights’ case, it was truly a sight to behold as the Cobras’ top five runners were rarely separated by more than a minute in their final times, sometimes the JH boys even finished within 30 seconds of each other from one through five.
With that balance, there were plenty of deserving runners to choose from for The Holton Recorder’s All-County team. Listed below are the seven athletes who made the final cut.
Garrett Hicks, RVHS, So.— While there may not have been a true front-runner on any of the county teams, Hicks was as close as any squad got this fall. He was the top runner for the Panther boys in six of the nine races this season.
That feat is made all the more impressive when you consider this was Hicks’ first season running cross country for Royal Valley (he competed in the distance races for the track team last spring).
A model of consistency in 2015, the sophomore Hicks evolved into a leader for the team over the course of the season and finished outside of the top 20 just once this fall.
Twice Hicks finished in the top five at a meet this season and he also took 10th at the Big Seven meet to make the All-League team for the first time. This is also his first selection to the All-County squad.
Dalton Chartier, JHHS, So.— Equally as consistent as Hicks, Chartier produced eerily similar results for the Jackson Heights boys in 2015.
Coach Brad Alley said he believed Chartier would be up there and leading the Cobra boys even before the season began and the young runner didn’t let those words ring hollow.
Of the eight meets the JHHS boys competed in this fall, Chartier was the top runner for the team in five of them and he never finished lower than 25th in any race.
Chartier’s top finish was placing 14th, which he did at two meets this fall. One of those was the Northeast Kansas League meet and that finished earned him All-League honors. His performance this season also earned him his first appearance on the All-County roster.
Kwaki Spoonhunter, RVHS, Sr.— After a rocky start to the 2015 campaign, this senior got back into the swing of things and delivered for the Panthers all season long.
Spoonhunter missed the first meet of the season, but he quickly jumped right into mix with Royal Valley’s talented young runners (Hicks and Darius Frisby) when he returned.
While a scheduling conflict (ACT testing) prevented Spoonhunter from competing in the regional meet, he put together a nice highlight reel to end the season as he finished in the top 10 twice in the final three meets of his high school career. He finished ninth at the RV Invitational and took eighth at the Big Seven meet.
That showing put him on the All-League team for the second year in a row and he is also the only repeat selection to the All-County team this year.
Xavier Fritz, JHHS, So.— Part of a strong sophomore class for Jackson Heights, Fritz was one of many young runners to deliver for the Cobras this fall.
After missing the second meet of the season, Fritz came back and threw his hat into the ring with Chartier and Andrew Pino as one of the top performers as he closed the season with six straight top-30 finishes.
Fritz was a solid number two behind Chartier for the latter half of the season and managed to break into the top 20 at both the league and regional meets. His best finish was taking seventh at the JH Invitational. This is the first year Fritz has been featured on the All-County roster.
Darius Frisby, RVHS, So.— Thrown into the fire from the start, as many experienced Panthers were sidelined at the beginning of the season, Frisby immediately rose to the occasion for Royal Valley.
Frisby finished 16th, right behind Hicks, in the first meet of the season and didn’t slow down from there. He finished outside the top 25 once this season and had five top-20 performances for the RV boys.
Included in that was an 11th-place showing at the Big Seven meet, which earned him All-League honors in his sophomore season. He is making his debut on the All-County team this year.
Westin Jacobsen, JHHS, Sr.— A late-bloomer, once Jacobsen got his chance he took hold and didn’t let go, putting together an impressive finish to his high school cross country career.
Jacobsen pulled double duty for the cross country and football teams at Jackson Heights this fall, starting out running for the JV squad and claiming a runner-up finish and individual title in the two races of that variety in which he competed.
Early on during football, though, Jacobsen suffered a shoulder injury and that turned into a boon for the cross country team as he turned his full attention to running and quickly moved up the ranks for the varsity squad.
After getting his bearings, Jacobsen closed the season with three top-20 finishes and led the Cobra boys in two of the final three meets. He just missed making All-League with an 18th-place finish at the NEKL meet, but he came back with his best showing of the season by taking fourth at the Cobras’ home meet. This is Jacobsen’s first appearance on the All-County squad.
Andrew Pino, JHHS, So.— Pino was among those in the mix to lead a young Cobra team this fall and through most of the season he wasn’t far off the pace of Chartier.
A reliable number two, Pino stayed at the front of the pack for the JH boys through most of the fall and routinely finished in the top 30.
Four times this season, Pino finished in the top 20 and he also put together his best showing at the JH Invitational, taking sixth in that race. He is a first-time selection to the All-County team this year.
Honorable mention selections to the All-County team include Ethan Fund (JHHS) and Wyatt Marriott (HHS).