By BRETT MARSHALL
JOHNSON CITY — Friday night it was nomecoming queen coronation in Ulysses for senior Janni Meierhoff.
Saturday morning, it was being crowned girls varsity cross country champion at the Stanton County Invitational against one of the top fields of the season in southwest Kansas.
Meierhoff ran away from the field to post a winning time of 16:10.77 over the 4-kilometer race (2.4 miles) to capture the large class division but her time was also nearly 12 seconds faster than Greeley County's Madison Moser, who garnered the small class title with a time of 16:22.02. It was Heber Jimenez of Hugoton who grabbed the boys title in 17:17.3 over the 5-kilometer layout at Prairie Pines Golf Course. He would finish nine seconds ahead of Holcomb's Michael Wolf who came in at 17:26.1.
The victory for Meierhoff was her third in four races this fall and clearly establishes her as one of the top runners in the area heading into the final half of the season.
"I felt pretty good, it was a good temperature and I just tried to stay at a good pace," Meierhoff said. "For once, I got my start better and I think I got a little space from her (Moser) halfway through the second mile. The flats here tend to make me feel the pounding more but I just need to concentrate on things that are important so I won't complain about the way the race went."
Meierhoff said she felt hungry prior to the race so she downed a banana about five minutes prior to the start.
"I was just hungry and figured I might cramp up," Meierhoff said.
For Moser, she was acutely aware of Meierhoff even before the race started.
"I think I was a bit intimidated at first," Moser said of the Ulysses senior. "I knew she'd be the one (to beat). This year, I am paying attention a lot more and that's probably because it's my last year (senior season). I saw her throughout the race and I was just happy to be up there. This was a good day to run because it's a good preview for the caliber of runners we'll see at state."
Hugoton's Jimenez topped a field that included Holcomb's top runners, Stanton County's Eric Ruth and Greeley County's Isaac Wilson and Southwestern Heights' Enrique Sanchez, the defending Hi-Plains League champion.
"I felt pretty good and I put in a hard week of practice," Jimenez said. "After the first mile, I wasn't sure how the race would go. I thought it would be closer to the finish. I knew he'd (Wolf) be closing at the end. It was nice to get a good variation of different runners from different schools."
Jimenez said he thought Sanchez would be amongst his chief challengers Saturday. And, he liked the mild weather of Saturday (temperatures in the 60s).
"Enrique said he felt a little heavy in the legs," Jimenez said. "The Hi-Plains League will be a great meet this year. I'm looking forward to it. This is the kind of weather I love. I wish it were like this all the time."
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.