Puyallup High junior Colin Monaghan couldn’t help but be jealous of teammate Rachel Kastama as he cheered her on at the Nike Border Clash in Beaverton, Oregon last November.
At the finish line, Monaghan waited and watched some of the top prep cross country runners from Washington and Oregon competed in a collegiate-style race. How could he not be envious of Kastama’s opportunity?
Just seeing her race and cheering her made me motivated to want to reach Border Clash this year.
“Just seeing her race and cheering her made me motivated to want to reach Border Clash this year,” Monaghan said.
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Kastama finished with a time of 19 minutes, 46.2 seconds, good for 55th place.
“To get to Border Clash again, that’s my main goal for this season. That and get under 18:30 on my time for 5K,” Kastama said.
To get to Border Clash again, that’s my main goal for this season. That and get under 18:30 on my time for 5K.
This year, Kastama has kept toward the top of the girls West Central District 3 rankings again as she enters the week with the fifth-best time of 18:55.6. Kastama’s time and placement is to be expected, but after Monaghan’s strong start to the season, Puyallup might just have a boy and a girl cross country runner finish in the top five at the district meet.
“That would be huge. It would be big for them (Rachel and Colin) and the program to have them both finish in the top five,” said Puyallup coach Sandy Monaghan, who is also Colin’s mother.
Colin enters the week with the district’s eighth-best time, 16:09.9, among the boys in district.
High stakes at state
The lucky number for Monaghan and Kastama is 15.
If they can come away with a top-15 time at the Class 4A state cross country meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, then both would receive an invite to Border Clash.
With tough competition so far this season in 4A, Kastama currently ranks 25th in the state for the girls, and Monaghan is 28th among the boys.
“It would mean a lot because that means more people from Puyallup can go on from state,” Kastama said.
“(We can advance) if we do what my mom (coach Sandy Monaghan) says. She knows what we need to do to improve,” Colin added.
It’s going to be hard for both standout runners to get to the point they will need to be at in order to reach their goal. The other runners will present challenges. But both these Vikings might just have an ace in the hole with the way Sandy Monaghan has been running her teams.
“I’ve been taking them to all the different parks around Puyallup that nobody knows about,” Sandy said. “They have these nice little steep hills on them ... it’s wonderful. When the kids see them, they usually turn to me and ask, ‘Is this for state?’ And I’m just telling them ‘Yep.’”
The coach utilizes hidden trails inside of Wildwood Park on South Hill or Clarks Creek Park downtown — anything that could prepare or give her runners an advantage.
And that will be critical for both Colin and Kastama to have postseason success. The training now will only make them better in the future.
“It would mean it shows how hard we worked to get there, because I worked hard to get to Border Clash last year,” Kastama said.