Bellarmine Prep senior Cameron Wyman has always dreamed of winning a state title, but in order to win Saturday’s 4A state meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, his focus can’t be on the finish line.
Wyman, who also runs the 800 and 1,600 meters in track, has the speed to finish strong. He said the key to the race is staying with the leaders late in the second mile and early in the third mile to give himself a chance to put that speed to work.
“As long as I’m up there with the leaders through 2 1/2 miles, the kick shouldn’t be a problem,” Wyman said. “As soon as I let them go though, it’s most likely over, so I’ve just got to be able to push through that second mile.”
Wyman expects Jackson senior Matthew Watkins, Ferris senior Amir Ado and Camas senior Yacine Guermali to be a part of the group leading at the midway point. That’s the group that will push the pace late in the second mile in an attempt to break from the pack.
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It’s something he’s prepared for all season.
“I definitely know that they’re going to run as a pack and that’s who I’ve got to stay with,” Wyman said. “There will probably be a few others for at least the first two miles, but that’s the main competition.”
Wyman finished 15th at last year’s state meet, but 10 of the runners who finished above him graduated, giving him a realistic shot at winning this year’s state title.
“I think there’s six or seven guys that can realistically win, and he’s one of them,” Bellarmine Prep boys cross country coach Keith Wren said.
Should Wyman win, he will become the second consecutive Bellarmine Prep runner to win the championship, following Jack Yearian, who won last year as a senior using a similar strategy to Wyman’s.
But racing strategy isn’t the only thing Wyman learned from Yearian.
“Jack never seemed to be nervous before races,” Wyman said. “I was always nervous. I was always stressing. He figured out how to relax. He knew he was the best one there and he wasn’t afraid to show it. He went out there and he did what he showed and he won the state title.
“I’ve definitely taken confidence from him as one of the main things that he’s left me with.”
Wyman is confident — and well-rested. He finished 17th at the Westside Classic to qualify for the state meet. It was an event Wyman could’ve won, but instead he ran in a pack with his teammates to save energy. Wyman was one of six Bellarmine Prep runners who finished 15th through 20th places, all within two seconds of each other.
“The whole point was just qualifying,” Wyman said. “So it was just a nice, easy workout that we did. It was fun — a good run.”
Saturday’s race will be different.
“At this point, he’s a senior and he’s got tons of experience in both cross country and track to draw on,” Bellarmine Prep girls cross country coach and program director Matt Ellis said. “Obviously, on paper, a couple of other guys probably should win it, but that’s why you run the races. He’s grown a lot in terms of cross country racing this fall, so if he puts himself in the right position with his closing speed you never know what can happen.”
Winning the individual championship is just one of Wyman’s goals. The Lions placed second as a team in 2015 and have a shot at winning their first boys team title in school history.
“In a word, it would be historic,” Ellis said. “It’s really what we’ve been working towards. It’s one of the reasons that we have things set up the way we do and we’ve been working for for six years. It’s not something that has happened overnight.”