The gritty sophomore was at her absolute best when it counted the most. She charged across the hilly Rim Rock course in 18:17.89, good for a 31 second victory over St. James Academy's Katie Moore (18:48.03). Jackson opened with a 5:24 mile to quickly build a lead on a pack led by Moore, teammate Sarah Murrow -- the 2018 state champion -- and St. Thomas Aquinas' Allison Strathman.
But Jackson was relentless. Instead of tiring from the fast opening pace, she just kept right on loping through the tough Rim Rock course. On a perfect day for running, she was nearly just as perfect in her race plan.
Along with the state title, Jackson picked up the Bob Timmons award, which goes to the girl who runs the fastest time among the three classes competing at Rim Rock Farm on Saturday. It's the first state title of Jackson's prep career, through she medalled in cross country, 1600 and 3200 as a freshman last year.
Moore's consolation came in the fact that she and her St. James' mates were able to bring the state championship back to their school. The squad won their school's first-ever state title two years ago, but the injury bug prevented them from defending the title a year ago.
In addition to Moore, the Thunder's top five scorers were Murrow (8th, 19:22.69), Grace Heeb (23rd, 20:13), Christine Znidarsi (25th, 20:20) and Lily Myers (35th, 20:40). For the seniors on this year's team, it marked the end to a remarkable run of two state titles, one state runner-up, and two Rim Rock Classic titles.
Blue Valley Southwest was the team runner-up for the second year in a row. The squad got three top 10 finishers in McKenna Polus (fourth, 18:58), Gigi Loffredo (sixth, 19:08) and Brinn Wilson (ninth, 19:32).
Maize South, led by third-place finisher Alexa Rios (18:52), was third in the team standings with 94 points, knocking defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas (106) off the podium. Aquinas' Strathman placed fifth in 19:02.5.
St. Thomas Aquinas' boys, however, kept right on rolling. The Saints won their sixth consecutive state championship, scoring 59 points for a 40-point win over Maize South (99). Aiden Higgerson was third (16:11), Ashton Higgerson was seventh (16:22) and Logan Seger was ninth (16:30) to lead the Aquinas machine.
Trey Rios led Maize South with a fifth place finish in 16:16. Andover, last year's state runner-up, was third this year, led by state champion Ryan Kinnane, who clocked a career-best time of 15:48 for a 20 second victory over Emporia's Treyson True (16:08). Kinnane's time was 10 seconds faster than he ran to finish as runner-up at the Rim Rock Classic earlier this season. He was undefeated against all Kansas class 5A competition this season.
For complete results from the class 5A state meet, check out the results page on Kansas MileSplit.