Photos courtesy of Britney Ackley
If Jessica Jazwinski is running, then she’s in her element. And it really doesn’t matter the elements.
Hart’s girls cross country team fell a little shy in its quest for a record sixth-straight Division 3 state championship Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, but Jazwinski still brought a title home with her.
Despite gusty winds and a downpour of rain, the Pirates sophomore still managed to post a great time. Jazwinski ran away from the pack in 17:36.70, beating runner-up Hannah Pricco of Lansing Catholic by nearly 41 seconds.
Hart junior Alyson Enns placed fourth with a time of 18:28.52. As a team, the Pirates placed fourth with 171 points. They finished behind team champion Traverse City St. Francis (134), Pewamo-Westphalia (142) and Lansing Catholic (165).
“It just means so much just because I’ve trained all summer and it’s been so many years that I’ve watched other people win, especially Adelyn (Ackley). I’ve seen her win three times, especially being from Hart,” Jazwinski said. “It just means so much to me because I’ve always wanted to do it, watching other people, and it just seemed so amazing and such a great experience. All the hard work really paid off today.”
Rounding out the state finals runners for Hart: Sophomore Lexie Beth Nienhuis in 68th (20:54.15), senior Abby Pretty in 88th (21:08.70), freshman Kenai Kokx in 90th (21:10.70), senior Savanna Owens in 127th (21:42.29) and sophomore Lauren Pretty in 139th (21:55.44).
Jazwinski said that the Pirates were a little disappointed not being able to come away with another team state title, but they knew competition would be stiff.
Jazwinski added that after she and her teammates thought about it, they realized they had put their best out there and did well considering the conditions.
Hart coach Terry Tatro said that Enns ran well and he also was pleased with his 3-6 runners, who were “real good, just grouped too far back.” Winning a sixth-straight state championship was a tough ask.
“That was a tough bill to fill. I knew that we had our hands full going in with St. Francis and Pewamo. Lansing Catholic was kind of a surprise,” said Tatro, whose boys team captured the first state title in school history Saturday. “My girls ran well; the other teams just ran better. That’s about all you say with that.
“They ran their hearts out. Certainly, they were disappointed, but they had a great season and great run at it and they’re anxious to get back at it next year. I have two seniors – Abby Pretty and Savanna Owens are the only ones I lose there.”
Jazwinski will be the No. 1 returnee for Tatro next year and she’ll definitely be looking to set the tone again.
Some might find this a little unusual, but Jazwinski enjoyed running in the wind and rain Saturday.
“The wind, I don’t know, it was probably around 40 miles per hour and then at about the 800-meter mark, it started downpouring. It was really crazy. It was true cross country,” she said.
“I definitely enjoy running in that. It just makes the conditions, they’re a little more unique than just a plain day without any wind on a flat course. It just makes it a lot more fun to run in.”
Next up for Jazwinski is the Midwest Meet of Champions Nov. 12 at Shepherd High School.
After that, she’s planning to compete in the Eastbay Cross Country regional Nov. 26 in Kenosha, Wis. That’s where she’ll be looking to qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals.
Saturday’s time was the second-fastest of Jazwinski’s season. She established her personal record Oct. 8 at the Portage Invitational with a time of 17:15.1.
It was a special season for Jazwinski, who won every race she ran with the exception of the West Ottawa Bredeweg Invite, where she placed fifth against the likes of several top-level Division 1 and Division 2 runners.
“Jessie had a great race (Saturday) considering the weather and the wind … 17:36 on a day like that was just crazy. I mean, we had wind gusts, just as the girls started to race, that would just about knock you over. And then it started pouring rain. Weather-wise, at least it wasn’t snowing or anything and it was relatively warm, but the wind certainly factored into everything today,” Tatro said.
“She just had a great year. I’m sure that she would have had probably the D-3 record had it not been for the weather conditions – the wind and stuff.”
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