Wolfgang Beck is a man with a plan.
The Gig Harbor junior came into the Narrows League 4A championship meet intending to run a smooth, consistent race. But when a group got off to a fast start, he altered his strategy to what he called a “slow acceleration,” picking it up a little more on each hill, and then taking it fast down the final stretch.
“It isn’t my usual tactic, but I was testing things out,” he said. “League is the place to do it.”
Beck’s strategy paid off as he won the 5-kilometer race at Fort Steilacoom Park in 15 minutes, 21.46 seconds. Gig Harbor won the boys’ team competition with 30 points.
“I’m thinking out on the course,” said Beck, who finished ahead of classmate Logan Carroll (15:27.79). “That’s my style.”
On the girls’ side, Olympia junior Sofia Kane placed first in 18:19.12 – and said she wasn’t expecting to win.
“I crossed the line and I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I just knew that (if) I wanted to have a shot I’d have to push it from the beginning and keep my pace up the whole time.”
Kane, who finished second in the league meet last year, said that gave her added incentive to keep Central Kitsap’s Rose Christen (18:28.51) from catching her.
“I don’t think I would have been able to keep it together for the last 800 if I didn’t know what it felt like to get outkicked at the end,” she said.
Bellarmine Prep won the girls’ team competition with 35 points.
“It was fun, as always,” said Lions coach Matt Ellis, who said he was especially pleased with junior Hannah Derby’s third-place time of 18:39.03, a personal best. “We’re taking a step every week toward state and we’ll see what happens.”
In the 3A competition, North Thurston junior Hallie Whitley’s winning time of 20:06.90 moved her closer to a third consecutive trip to state. A year ago, she was the Rams’ only female runner in Pasco.
“Today was really awesome,” said Whitley, whose team finished first in the standings with 42 points. “I was super excited coming in because our girls have been doing so well.”
Whitley said that maintaining a big lead is simply a matter of mindset. She finished well ahead of Timberline senior Kenna Valentich, in 20:21.48.
“I do a lot of, ‘OK, you cannot let her pass you; you have to keep your lead,’ ” she said. “And I listen a lot for spikes on gravel or spikes on cement, that sort of thing.”
Shelton junior Cody Williamson won the 3A boys race, in 16.32.04, as his team finished first with 33 points, just one point ahead of North Thurston.