Near-sweep for Lincoln siblings


By LARRY MORITZ Salina Journal

GYPSUM — The Farris family isn’t perfect anymore, but they certainly aren’t far from it.

Jenna Farris, a sophomore at Lincoln High School, won her fourth meet in as many tries this season when she raced to a record-setting victory Tuesday at the Southeast of Saline Invitational cross country meet.

Her brother James, a senior at Lincoln, fell just short of making it another family sweep, finishing second to Hillsboro’s Joel Allen in the boys varsity race. It marked the first time in four meets this season that James was not the individual champion.

Neither member of the Farris family was disappointed in their result, particularly under some less than ideal — warm and windy — running conditions.

Jenna’s winning time of 15:20 was the meet’s fastest since making the switch to a 4,000-meter course in 2006. She ran most of the race well in front and won by 69 seconds, but got some encouragement from family members along the way to keep up the pace.

“Going against the wind was when I went the hardest,” Jenna said. “The hills weren’t bad here but the heat definitely was.

“My mom and my brother were out there telling me what my time was and telling me to keep pushing to get a better time.”

James didn’t need any encouragement to keep pushing, keeping Allen in his sights for much of the race before the Hillsboro senior pulled away.

“I was with him until the last half mile and then he pulled away,” James said. “But he’s a pretty good runner so I’m all right getting second.

“I started out a little too fast. I just ran a 16:38 at Bennington last week but this course was a little tougher.”

The Sacred Heart girls, behind top five finishes from Ally Balderston and Tracie Thibault, won the meet team title with 65 points. That topped Minneapolis in second with 74, while defending champion Southeast of Saline was third with 88.

“The girls have been running well so I’m not shocked, but I am pleasantly surprised,” said Sacred Heart coach Brad Dix. “They didn’t do anything outrageous but they definitely have the potential to run like they did today.

“We were hoping to put together a good performance out there and I’m proud of them.”

Balderston was third in the girls race when the senior finished in 16:30, only three seconds behind Anna Trahan of Minneapolis. Thibault, a freshman, was fourth, coming in 15 seconds behind Balderston. The Knights also had a 15th-place finish from senior Amy Ptacek (17:33).

“I just wanted to take the first mile pretty slow and be comfortable, and then run with heart the rest of the way,” Balderston said. “I’m just trying to beat my times from last year and if I do that, I’m happy with it.

“I know Farris from track and she’s really good. Trahan and I kind of go back and forth so I always look out for her.”

Balderston did improve three spots from her finish in 2009. Trahan jumped from fourth to second, as the Minneapolis sophomore was able to hold off Balderston’s late charge.

“I want to keep an eye on the people ahead of me and keep my mind on the people behind me,” said Trahan, who had her top finish this season. “When Farris took the lead, I didn’t get worried. I just kept going.”

Allen was running at the Southeast meet for the first time after his family moved from Minnesota last fall. He took the lead shortly after the first mile and then slowly began to pull away from Farris and Sacred Heart’s Cory Donley in third.

“There were at least four of us running today that had gone under 17 minutes already this year,” Allen said. “The big thing for me was not running in front into the wind as much as the others, especially in the first mile when the others are gassing themselves.”

Donley said he had a bad feeling about Tuesday’s race before it began, having trouble getting loose before the event. His time of 17:38 was his slowest of the season.

“I was just tight today and I did a lot of stretching, but I was still tight,” Donley said. “The long stretches running uphill seemed to hold me back.

“I don’t really like getting third but (Allen and Farris) ran well and they deserve it.”

Hillsboro won the boys team title with 84 points, followed by Hesston (117) and Sterling (121). The Sacred Heart boys were 10th and Southeast of Saline 11th.

Southeast’s Isaac Barnhart had the top finish among the Trojans, placing 12th in the boys race with a time of 18:56. The Southeast girls had two runners in the top 20, led by Courtney Sager in 14th (17:29) and Sierra Yianakopulos in 20th (17:56).

Additional SES Stories:

State cross country rankings
County sports: Saturday’s events at-a-glance
Back in the saddle
Near-sweep for Lincoln siblings

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