Jack Yearian was looking to make a statement.
After his 2013 season ended with an injury shortly before the Class 4A state cross country meet and a finish out of the top 20, he decided that this year would be about staying healthy and mentally focused.
It worked, as Yearian kicked off his junior season at Bellarmine Prep with a win in the Bellarmine Invitational on Saturday in 10 minutes, 0.10 seconds.
“It was super exciting, and I was glad I could win at home,” he said. “I went out and just was going to see what I had ... I felt good a little early, so I just kind of went and gave it my all.”
Yearian said that with about 800 meters to go, he felt confident about staying ahead of Central Kitsap’s Cameron Carroll (10:15.65), and shifted his focus to a personal objective: breaking the 10-minute mark.
“That was a big goal for me,” he said, “and it pushed me.”
Yearian’s performance helped Bellarmine Prep to a second-place finish in the team standings, with 96 points, behind Central Kitsap (76) and ahead of Blanchet (100).
Defending state champion Bellarmine Prep narrowly won the girls competition, with 66 points, ahead of Aloha of Beaverton, Oregon, (68) and Skyline (73).
Lions coach Matt Ellis said that he was pleased with his team’s performance, especially since they graduated two of their top five girls, and did not run a complete varsity team on Saturday.
“We feel good,” he said. “It’s just a great way to kick off the season.”
Ellis added that seeing strong programs such as Aloha and Skyline is an added benefit to starting the season with an invitational.
“It makes you better,” he said. “I welcome the competition.”
Defending 3A state champion Andrea Masterson won the girls competition in 11:17.46.
“It was a pretty fast race,” said Masterson, a senior at Lakeside of Seattle, who added that the high-70s temperature spurred her to move faster. “It was good to be done.
“I don’t really enjoy running in the heat much.”
Similar to the 2013 state meet, Masterson bested her teammate, sophomore Sophie Cantine (12:02.39), for the win. But she didn’t know who was behind her — or how far back.
“One of my paranoias is that I never look behind me,” she said, “so I never know who’s where.
“I kind of used the crowd to figure out if someone was behind me, and I didn’t really stop pushing until the end, when I was across the finish line.”