LAKEWOOD Before last Thursday’s Class 3A South Sound Conference championship cross country meet at Fort Steilacoom Park, the top three runners on the highly-touted Gig Harbor Tides squad had yet to run all together in a race this season.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s true: Bradley Peloquin, Peter Smith and Nolan Carroll have all run several races this year, but not all at the same time. Between SAT testing, college visits, and even weddings, something kept coming up.
“Just life getting in the way,” said Gig Harbor coach Andrew Walker.
The stars finally aligned for the biggest meet of the season thus far, and the trio was eager to impress. They certainly didn’t disappoint, finishing 1-2-3 and winning as a team convincingly with 38 points. Central Kitsap came in second with 60 points.
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Junior Bradley Peloquin continued his remarkably consistent season with a first-place finish and a time of 15 minutes, 37.6 seconds. Smith, a senior transfer from Virginia, came in second at 15:48.6. And Carroll, also a senior, finished in third, clocking in at 16:23.20.
“This gives us a lot of confidence,” Peloquin said. “We haven’t had a chance to really prove ourselves. One of the three of us has always been missing at the big meets. So that makes a difference.”
It was a sloppy, rain-soaked course. The conditions slowed things down a bit, but didn’t make too much of a difference overall.
“I ran a race back in Virginia that was just like this,” Smith said. “I don’t look at the conditions too much, I just look at the time. I dropped time so that’s good.”
While racing, at its core, is an individual sport, high school cross country has a unique team element. Teammates can feed off each other’s pace and energy. Knowing tendencies can be critical in earning team points.
“I think it’s very important to feel out your team,” Carroll said. “Racing isn’t individual — it’s a team sport. So to finally have everyone was a big thing.”
Walker said the chemistry is more important than people probably realize.
“It’s hard to overstate how important it is to get them all rolling together, knowing who’s going to move when, knowing what to expect from your teammates during a race,” he said.
Senior Finlay Adamson was just behind the top three, finishing seventh at 16:40.4. Gig Harbor’s No. 5 spot continues to be a bit of a concern. Senior Jared Doris clocked in at 17:39.40, while senior Arthur Keast finished at 17:42.20. For the Tides to win a state title, they’ll likely need one of those two to close the gap a bit.
“They’re the right guys we want chasing this thing,” Walker said of Doris and Keast. “They have to break out and have a big one for us.”
The team is bursting with confidence after its strong showing in Lakewood.
“We trust our training,” Carroll said. “It’s starting to taper off and it’s starting to show.”
Smith was feeling good after the team win and taking second place.
“We’re just doing the workouts and striving together,” he said. “We’re feeling good.”
The top finisher for the Peninsula boys was Cameron Wenman, who finished in 10th place with a time of 16:58.3. Senior Reese Hoeksema took 18th at 17:26.60 for the Seahawks.
The next meet is the West Central III/Southwest bi-district meet on Saturday (Oct. 28) at Chambers Creek Central Meadow in University Place.
The Class 3A state meet will be held Nov. 4 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.