James Mwaura wanted some competition Saturday. It never came.
The Lincoln High School senior came into view of the finish line at the Fort Steilacoom Invitational cross-country meet alone and sprinted home before anyone else was in sight, winning the boys Gold division in a meet record 15:03.
Mwaura, the 2016 state Class 3A champion, broke the meet record of 15:07.7 he set one year ago.
On a day some coaches believed times were depressed by dusty conditions on the primarily dirt and dry grass course, Mwuara ran his own race, ultimately winning by 28 seconds over Gig Harbor’s Bradley Peloquin.
“I stayed with them for the first two and a half miles, until we got to the hill, then I put a little distance between myself and everyone else,” Mwaura said. “I was hoping Daniel (Maton of Camas) would come with me and push me, so I could break 15, but it didn’t happen. I’m happy, I ran faster than last year.”
Lincoln coach Duane Lee, coaching a young group, looks to Mwaura for high finishes and inspiration.
“This year we’ve got James and a group of kids we’re trying to bring along,” he said. “He’s a great role model and leader.”
Central Valley narrowly claimed the boys Gold team title, 66-75, over Lewis and Clark, while Tahoma, with four runners in the top 21, was the highest South Sound finisher, in fourth with 116 points.
Junior Dawson Besst led the Bears, finishing ninth in 15:51.6. Sophomores Brian Martinez (16:14.7) and Ethan Martin (16:16.3) were next, in 19th and 20th places, right ahead of junior Chandler Nill (16:18.8) in 21st.
“We’re where we should be at this point in the season. I’m so proud of these kids and how hard they were pushing today,” said Tahoma assistant coach Brian Martinez, Sr. “We’re a young team and these guys are finding their places, it’s exciting to see their confidence rise up.”
Peloquin was one of two Gig Harbor runners to break the 16-minute mark, clocking 15:31.7. Peter Smith was 11th in 15:54.1 as the Tides claimed eighth place as a team.
Wilson senior Parker Stachler (27th in 16:21), Puyallup seniors Andrew Oslin (31st in 16:25.2) and Colin Monaghan (33rd in 16:27.7) as well as Central Kitsap’s Andrew Simon (36th in 16:34.3) also finished in the top 40.
Issaquah dominated the girls Gold team standings behind a one-two finish from freshman Julia David-Smith and senior Sami Corman. Tahoma, with senior Breanna Glover leading the way with a 10th place finish (19:12.7), was also the top South Sound team in the girls. Freshman Lulu Brady also broke 20 minutes for the Bears, finishing 22nd in 19:57.3.
Central Kitsap was sixth behind seventh-place finisher Maya Nichols (18:52.3), a freshman, and 13th-place Molly Fischer (19:19.9)
Lincoln’s girls, with Patience Mwaura, James’ younger sister, playing a role, finished eighth. Sophomore Amiyah Johnson was the top Abe finisher, in 14th place in 19:26.3. Senior Yazmin Estrada was 35th in 20:28.4 while the younger Mwaura finished in 21:28.7.
“Our girls are really coming along,” Lee said. “We had a strong showing on the front end and our back end is improving a lot. Amiyah has been phenomenal, she put in a lot of work this summer after going to state as a freshman. We’re excited for what the girls are doing as a group.”