High School Sports

Lincoln’s James Mwaura repeats as Westside Classic cross country champion

WATCH: Highlights from Westside Classic cross country championships

Gig Harbor claimed the the 3A team title with 61 points to Lakes’ 85 for Lakes, which means the Tides get to send its their top five runners to state.
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Gig Harbor claimed the the 3A team title with 61 points to Lakes’ 85 for Lakes, which means the Tides get to send its their top five runners to state.

James Mwaura has learned he doesn’t need to set personal records every race.

The Lincoln High School junior runs more methodically, saving his energy when he can and kicking it into gear when the time calls.

His extra gear on Saturday allowed him to break away from the pack. He finished in 16 minutes, 11.60 seconds to win the 3A boys cross country race of the Westside Classic at American Lake Veterans Golf Course for the second consecutive year in the final tuneup before the state championships.

“I put more thought into races now,” Mwaura said. “And not going too hard in the races I don’t need to run hard in and saving it for the big races like state.”

This is the kind of race that speaks to Mwaura as a runner — that his just enough was more than enough to edge Gig Harbor’s Bradley Peloquin for first place.

Mwaura is the first runner to win back-to-back Westside Classic titles in the 3A race since Mt. Rainier’s Ryan Prentice won in 2006 and 2007. Mwaura parlayed last year’s district title into an eighth-place finish at the state meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco — the same site of next Saturday’s state championships.

“My goal is just to go out there and hope to win the whole race,” Mwaura said.

“This is a big accomplishment. I’ve put a lot of work to do this. I’m proud of it.”

He was in a pack with Peloquin and Wilson’s Casey Bennett until breaking away with about a kilometer to go in the 5-kilometer race.

“I knew James was going to go,” Peloquin said. “As soon as he went, I was like, ‘Ah, man.’ I wanted to make a move, but they were running so fast that I really couldn’t.”

Peloquin took second after passing Bennett late in the race — six hills, mud, gravel and slick grass later.

“I was happy,” Peloquin said after finishing in 16:15.20. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to place. I just knew I wanted to go out hard and see what happens. I decided to try to go for the win, but it didn’t happen.”

It was still enough to help lift Gig Harbor to the team title with 61 points to 85 for Lakes, which means the Tides get to send their top five runners to state.

Gig Harbor’s Nolan Carroll took seventh in 16:59.80 and Jack Shields was 10th in 17:11.50.

Tacoma was represented by more than Mwaura. Wilson’s Bennett finished third in 16:22.90 and teammate Parker Stachler was fourth in 16:32.90.

Stachler indicated that might be thanks to some of Mwaura’s midrace encouragement.

“We were going up the hill on the first lap and he was talking to me, saying: ‘Keep your stride, keep moving,’ ” Stachler said. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this is pretty cool.’ 

“Us three were all kind of talking with each other every now and then,” Bennett said. “Like, ‘Take it wide this turn.’ 

Peninsula won the 3A girls team title with 65 points to second-place Central Kitsap’s 75.

Mountainview’s Savanna Craig won the race, but CK’s Molly Fischer, the 3A South Sound Conference champion, wasn’t far behind, finishing second in 19:30.80.

“I did pretty well,” Fischer said. “I’m really excited to go to state. It’s like my favorite weekend of the year, every year.”


This race was not about top times. Not with the slick and muddy conditions.

“It was just about place and trying to get your team through,” Tahoma’s Dawson Besst said.

Besst finished third in 16:21.60, trailing Yacine Guermali’s blistering first-place finish of 15:51.80 for Camas, and Daniel Maton of Camas, who finished in 16:17.10.

Camas won the 4A team title with 68 points, Bellarmine Prep was second with 80 and Tahoma was third with 91.

“The course was definitely better than last year, when the mud was up to my ankles and it was pretty tough,” Besst said.

“Next week (at Sun Willows) the course is definitely going to be a lot softer and the hills more gradual. You will really have to use the downhills to your advantage.”

Next week’s race gives Tahoma a shot at winning back-to-back 4A state titles after edging Bellarmine Prep last year.

Bellarmine Prep was clearly using a team strategy. Its five runners finished in near unison, placing 15th-20th, with Cameron Wyman pumping his fist as teammate Lucas Pierson passed him to finish in 17:01.50.

Curtis’ Ben Jacot finished fourth in 16:29.40 and South Kitsap’s Jacob Simon was fifth in 16:42.20.

But Camas stole the 4A show. The Papermakers won the girls team title with 51 points to second-place Tahoma’s 121.

Camas’ Emma Jenkins finished first in 18:34.70.

Puyallup’s Rachel Kastama came off of winning the 4A SPSL title at Fort Steilacoom Park last weekend and placed third in this race, finishing in 19:00.30.

“It was hard in the sand, not a lot of traction,” Kastama said. “But otherwise it was a pretty good race. A little trouble on the gravel hills, but that’s kind of a requirement on this course.”

Kastama finished 14th at the state meet last year and is hoping to place high enough this year to again qualify for the Nike BorderClash in Beaverton, Oregon.

“I am nervous,” Kastama said. “Glad I get to go to state. I was just really glad. I’ve been stressing out about this race for a while now.”


Courtney Gelmini finished in 19:16.50 for first place and she helped White River win the girls team title with 102 points to 104 for second-place Port Angeles.

Lindbergh won the boys team title with 39 points to second-place Sequim’s 65, but Sequim’s Ash Francis won the individual title in 16:44.60. Orting’s Joe Gerke was the top local finisher, placing sixth in 17:30.70.


Charles Wright swept the boys and girls team titles.

The boys team (45 points) edged second-place Port Townsend (49 points) behind Adam Berg, who finished second individually in 17:48.90. And the girls team scored 43 points to Seattle Christian’s 59 behind Brenna Sclair’s third-place finish in 21:24.20.

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677



Team scores: 1. Camas 68, 2. Bellarmine Prep 80, 3. Tahoma 91, 4. Emerald Ridge 193, 5. Kentridge 195, 6. Auburn Riverisde 217

1. Yacine Guermali, Camas, 15:51.80

2. Daniel Maton, Camas, 16:17.10

3. Dawson Besst, Tahoma, 16:21.60

4. Ben Jacot, Curtis, 16:29.40

5. Jacob Simon, South Kitsap, 16:42.20

6. Dennis Keith, Curtis, 16:45.60

7. Colin Monaghan, Puyallup, 16:50.20

8. Chanse Gilbert, Skyview, 16:54.20

9. Zeke Oien, Skyview, 16:54.70

10. Lance Slichko, Emerald Ridge, 16:56.10


Team scores: 1. Gig Harbor 61, 2. Lakes 85, 3. Mountain View 112, 4. Bonney Lake 122, 5. Wilson 131, 6. Capital 197

1. James Mwaura, Lincoln, 16:11.60

2. Bradley Peloquin, Gig Harbor, 16:15.20

3. Casey Bennett, Wilson, 16:22.90

4. Parker Stachler, Wilson, 16:32.10

5. Tommy Johnson, North Thurston, 16:48.30

6. Brian Morton, Lakes, 16:55.10

7. Nolan Carroll, Gig Harbor, 16:59.80

8. Samuel Johnson, Mountain View, 17:02.90

9. Shun Yamaguci, Mountain View, 17:09.10

10. Jack Shields, Gig Harbor, 17:11.50


Team scores: 1.Lindbergh 39, 2. Sequim 65, 3.Kingston 85, 4. Steilacoom 107, 5. Port Angeles 175, 6. North Kitsap 179

1. Ash Francis, Sequim, 16:44.60

2. Andrew Simon, Kingston, 17:02. 30

3. Murray Bingham, Sequim, 17:06.00

4. Tyler Hughey, Lindbergh, 17:14.10

5. Daniel Langer, Lindbergh, 18:20.20

6. Joe Gerke, Orting, 17:30.70

7. Colton Komar, Lindbergh, 17:35.50

8. Jacob Burton, Bremerton, 17:41.20

9. Deven Maddy, Lindbergh, 17:42.90

10. Broghan Zimmerman, Steilacoom, 17:43.00


Team scores: 1. Charles Wright 45, 2. Port Townsend 49, 3. Klahowya 62, 4. Vashon Island 113, 5. Bellevue Christian 128, 6. Seattle Christian 134

1. Jared Donnel, Bellevue Christian, 17:15.70

2. Adam Berg, Charles Wright, 17:48.90

3. Brennan LaBrie, Port Townsend, 17:52.10

4. Adam Briejer, Charles Wright, 18:00.30

5. AJ Taghavi, Charles Wright, 18:23.30


Team scores: 1. Camas 51, 2. Tahoma 121, 3. Hazen 131, 4. Bellarmine Prep 152, 5. Skyview 154, 6. South Kitsap 191

1. Emma Jenkins, Camas, 18:34.70

2. Shannon Gifford, Hazen, 18:58.10

3. Rachel Kastama, Puyallup, 19:00.30

4. Ellen Burbank, Skyview, 19:09.90

5. Ellie Postma, Camas, 19:16.30

6. Halle Jenkins, Camas, 19:16.30

7. Haylee Brodahl, Union, 19:20.30

8. Breanna Glover, Tahoma, 19:33.80

9. Karli Maenhout, Bellarmine Prep, 19:40.80

10. Kiersten Kimminau, Olympia, 19:43.90


Team scores: 1. Peninsula 65, 2. Central Kitsap 75, 3. Stadium 105, 4. Capital 124, 5. Bethel 154, 6. Kelso 211

1. Savanna Craig, Mountain View, 18:39.30

2. Molly Fischer, Central Kitsap, 19:30.80

3. Danielle Freshwaters, Stadium, 19:51.40

4. Emily Phelps, Fort Vancouver, 19:55.60

5. Rachel McAmis, Wilson, 19:55.90

6. Ashley Fahey, Peninsula, 20:03.00

7. Rianna Comery, Bethel, 20:03.50

8. Heather Schronce, Central Kitsap, 20:03.90

9. Annika Van Vlack, Stadium, 20:06.40

10. Sadie Lucero, Peninsula, 20:08.60


Team scores: 1. White River 102, 2. Port Angeles 104, 3.Steilacoom 125, 4. Sequim 136, 5. Lindbergh 139, 6. Orting 177

1. Courtney Gelmini, White River, 19:16.50

2. Gracie Long, Port Angeles, 19:59.70

3. Stephanie Martz, Lindbergh, 20:06.20

4. Feven Fessehatzion, Lindbergh, 20:38.70

5. Syrena Taylor, Washington, 20:50.90

6. Camryn Berryhill, White River, 21:01.20

7. Madeline Drennen, Orting, 21:08.40

8. Morgan Bingham, Sequim, 21:12.10

9. Lauren Wick, Lindbergh, 21:13.40

10. Kiara Pierson, Sequim, 21:16.70


Team scores: 1. Charles Wright 43, 2. Seattle Christian 59, 3. Klahowya 61, 4. Port Townsend 87, 5. Vashon Island 88

1. Sage Gibson, Seattle Christian, 20:21.50

2. Holly Rouse, Klahowya, 21:03.70

3. Brenna Sclair, Charles Wright, 21:24.20

4. Rachelle Mayes, Seattle Christian, 21:37.50

5. Anika Avelino, Port Townsend, 21:42.30