By RICK PETERSON
There's probably no other high school cross country runner in the state with more race experience than Shawnee Heights senior star Jackson Esquibel.
After all, Esquibel has been on the T-Birds' varsity team since he stepped on campus, has been a multi-time state qualifier and a two-time state Class 5A state medalist.
But Esquibel admits that he still gets nervous for each and every race.
"Of course,'' Esquibel said. "You get a little nervous but you get to the start line and you know what you're going to feel out there, you know that it's going to hurt, but I think once that gun goes off all the fear goes away.
"You've done it so many times throughout the four years that I just feel like it's fun now, you know. Being able to enjoy it a little bit more this year has been the best part about it.''
After the gun went off Saturday, Esquibel, also a state 3,200 meters champion in track, turned in another in a long line of dominating performance in the Class 5A regional meet at Shawnee North Community Center, posting a five-kilometer time of 15 minutes, 46:02 seconds to take the individual title by more than 53 seconds over De Soto junior Vance Krudwig (16:39.21).
Seaman sophomore Brody Anderson finished third in 16:43.71, pacing the Vikings to a third-place team finish and a team berth for next Saturday's 5A state meet at Rim Rock Farm, north of Lawrence.
"Brody's so good, and he's only to get better,'' Seaman coach Luke Wiens said.
Seaman also got a ninth-place finish from sophomore Jack Walker (17:10.55) while junior Logan Townsend was 21st (17:52.93), junior Alex Newell 22nd (17:54.16), sophomore Drake Spurlock 33rd (18:33.07), senior Joseph Yorkey 36th (18:48.41) and junior Corbin Murrow 37th (18:50.39).
"Qualifying's the name of the game,'' Wiens said. "That's what we're here for.''
Wiens was pleased with the performance of his team overall, mentioning sophomore Drake Spurlock, who stepped into the lineup due to an injury to another Viking runner and was the No. 5 scorer for the Vikings.
"He really stepped up, but we knew that he would,'' Wiens said. "He's a good runner, a great athlete, he's a great kid.''
Shawnee Heights missed a team berth for state by one spot, finishing fourth with 125 points.
Junior Evan Carter backed Esquibel with a 15th-place individual finish (17:25.59).
CLASS 5A REGIONAL BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
At Shawnee North Community Center
De Soto 46, St. James Academy 79, Seaman 84, Shawnee Heights 125, Basehor-Linwood 128, Piper 133, Lansing 139, Leavenworth 158..
1. Jackson Esquibel, Shawnee Heights, 15:46.02; 2. Vance Krudwig, De Soto, 16:39.21; 3. Brody Anderson, Seaman, 16:43.71; 4. Luke Swarts, De Soto, 16:51.07; 5. Michael Bianco, St. James Academy, 16:51.67; 6. Jason Cruse, Basehor-Linwood, 17:06.10; 7. Grayson Lamb, Piper, 17:09.15; 8. Caden Campbell, Bonner Springs, 17:10.45; 9. Jack Walker, Seaman, 17:10.55; 10. Shawn Sullivan, Leavenworth, 17:11.76.
Other Seaman -- 21. Logan Townsend, 17:52.93; 22. Alex Newell, 17:54.16. 33. Drake Spurlock, 18:33.07; 36. Joseph Yorkey, 18:48.41; 37. Corbin Murrow, 18:50.39.
Other Shawnee Heights -- 15. Evan Carter, 17:25.59; 24. Isaac Song, 18:12.24; 42. Landon Staniec, 18:59.12; 47.Andrew Schulte, 19:17.83; 48. Conner Knernschield, 19:19.86; 55. Alex Narsh, 19:37.25.