Jack Yearian spent more time training in a swimming pool this past summer than he did in his cross country shoes. He hadn’t finished a 5,000-meter course in less than 16 minutes, 16.35 seconds this season.
But there the Bellarmine Prep senior was, finishing almost 20 seconds ahead of second-place Ryan Gregory of Gig Harbor on Wednesday at Fort Steilacoom Park in 15:37.50 to win his first 4A Narrows League cross country title.
Yearian, the reigning Gatorade Washington boys track and field athlete of the year, said he amped up his training the past couple weeks after rehabbing all summer from what he said was a structural issue in his knee.
“It’s not really an issue anymore,” Yearian said. “It was more about getting my legs under me.”
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But that Yearian would do this well?
“He never surprises me,” Bellarmine Prep boys coach Keith Wren said.
Both Bellarmine Prep’s boys and girls cross country teams won the 4A Narrows League team championships — the first time the teams have won league titles in the same year since 1980, Wren said.
Bellarmine Prep scored 25 points to Gig Harbor’s 35 in the boys race.
It tied with Olympia atop the girls race with 35 points — but came away with the win because the Lions’ sixth runner, Bryce Hustead, finished ahead of Olympia’s sixth runner.
Lincoln sophomore James Mwaura demolished the field for the 3A Narrows title. He took first place in 15:20.50 — more than 25 seconds ahead of second place Cameron Carroll of Central Kitsap.
The defending boys champ, North Thurston’s Peter Allegre, took third in 16:01.60. Central Kitsap won the team title.
Olympia’s Brenna Carlson finished first in the 4A girls race at 19:11.70, followed by teammate Stella Grimsted at 19:17.60.
“All the training that we put into this really paid off on the big hills,” Carlson said. “And just learning to run together.”
Bellarmine’s Karli Maenhout finished third, followed by Olympia’s Kiersten Kimminau, who transferred from Northwest Christian after placing fourth in the 2B state championships last season.
Central Kitsap’s Molly Fischer and Mackenzie Claeys took first and second, respectively, in the 3A girls race to lead the Cougars to the girls team title. Capital’s Naomi Reyes finished third.
Yearian, who pulled away from Gregory at about the 2-mile mark, wore a light blue hat throughout the 4A boys race that he said he bought during the summer and has worn in races since. He wore long blue socks as a freshman and cotton gloves after that.
“He started pulling away and I just didn’t have it,” said Gregory, who finished just head of freshman teammate Bradley Peloquin. “(Yearian) is a great runner, though, so I’m not ashamed of that.”
“At state, there’s going to be a lot more guys there and the pace is going to be faster,” Yearian said. “So I just got to be able to push myself now so I’m used to it when I get to state.”
And he said it didn’t feel too bad that he did so against Gig Harbor, either.
“Gig Harbor ran great, but it’s always great to beat the Tides,” Yearian said, with a smile.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677