Lincoln’s James Mwaura used a cheering crowd to spur him on to the Class 3A boys cross country title Saturday at the WIAA state championships at Sun Willows Golf Course.
The defending 3A champion finished the 5K course in a staggering 14 minutes and 48.3 seconds – blasting his 2016 state title run of 15:32.9.
“I was shooting for 14:40 or under,” Mwaura admitted. “But nobody was pushing me. It’s so hard. You just have to keep your stride and keep pumping your arms.”
Gig Harbor’s Peter Smith, who won the Class 6A individual title last year in Virginia, pushed Mwaura for the first 2 miles. But Smith then fell off the pace and placed 16th.
“Peter has pushed me a lot this year,” said Mwaura. “He’s helped me get there.”
So did the crowd, which was lined along the final stretch to the finish line.
“That crowd was incredible,” Mwaura said.
So is the Lincoln senior, who said he tempered his mileage after winning the 2016 title. In 2015, after placing eighth as a sophomore, Mwaura said he pumped up his mileage with the goal of winning state.
“I wanted to make sure I had enough energy for this time of the year,” he said. “Today, I didn’t want to force things. So I didn’t go out too fast.”
It wasn’t until the 1.5-mile mark that Mwaura felt it was time to go.
“As soon as I felt Peter wasn’t there next to me, I took off,” said Mwaura.
Smith’s teammate, Bradley Peloquin, finished third.
Kamiakin pulled off the upset, winning the team title and snapping North Central’s 11-year state championship streak.
Kamiakin finished with 55 points, Interlake had 92, and North Central was third with 97 points.
On the girls’ side, North Central sophomore Erinn Hill won the individual title with a time of 17:55.3, and she helped lead her North Central teammates to the team title with 42 points.
Central Kitsap’s Maya Nichols finished ninth.
Ryan Kline of Central Valley of Spokane made a furious rally to win the 4A boys title in 15:1.3.
Kline was in 15th at the 2-mile mark when he started passing everyone. It took him the final few steps, though, to get by Camas’ Daniel Maton, who had to dive at the finish line but came up short.
AJ Chopra of Todd Beamer placed third, while Tahoma’s Dawson Besst was seventh.
Lewis & Clark edged Central Valley 86-87 for the team title. Bellarmine Prep finished third with 128.
LC also won the girls team title, and Tigers senior Katie Thronson pulled off the upset by beating two-time champion Taylor Roe of Lake Stevens with a time of 17:35.
Tahoma’s Breanna Glover placed third, and Curtis’ Maggie Bauer was 10th.
Bellingham’s Cade Brown passed Cedarcrest’s Grant Van Valkenburg right at the finish line to win the 2A title in 15:26.
Sehome took home the team title with 94 points – 13 ahead of second-place Pullman.
Steilacoom’s Zach Koivisto finished seventh.
Sehome also won the girls team title with 101 points.
Kristen Garcia of Sedro-Woolley led from the start to take the individual title with a time of 17:52.9.
North Kitsap’s Madison Zosa placed fifth.
College Place’s Kenneth Rooks was too much for the rest of the field, winning his second state title in the past three years.
Rooks finished in 15:18.8.
Adam Briejer of Charles Wright Academy placed fourth.
Medical Lake took the team title with 78 points.
In the girls’ race, Nooksack Valley’s Alyce Harlan won in 18:06.9.
Colville won the team title, edging LaCenter 114-117.
Adna’s Austen Apperson blew away the field for the title, winning in 15:59.
But Northwest Christian of Lacey repeated as boys state champ – its fourth consecutive title – with 84 points.
“We thought it would be a three-way race,” said NWC-Lacey coach Mike Michaels. “It’s a good tradition for our school.”
Michaels said he doesn’t want his kids to feel pressure to repeat.
“I tell them to try not and think like that,” said Michaels. “Every year is supposed to be their year.”
Sophomore Garrett McSheffrey was the top placing Navigator at ninth.
In the girls race, Liberty Bell’s Novie McCabe repeated as state champ. This time, the sophomore finished in 18:30.2. Liberty Bell also won the team title with 23 points.
Northwest Christian of Lacey finished second as a team, led by Ellie Summers’ fourth-place finish.