Bundled up in a rain jacket, and peering into a sky full of dark clouds, South Kitsap athletic director Ed Santos shook his head.
As the meet director of the 4A/3A Narrows cross country championships, he knew what the Wednesday afternoon weather forecast was bringing.
It was a rain-soaking fury.
The four varsity 5-kilometer races held at Fort Steilacoom Park were as much about puddle-jumping and mud-skidding as it was about racing. Santos called the racing conditions the worst he’s seen at the Narrows championships in the past 20 years.
That did not prevent a convincing Peloquin sweep — brother, Tristan and twin sister, Brenna — in the 4A Narrows races. Each sibling from Gig Harbor High School took home a first league title.
Tristan ran away for a 28-second victory in the boys race, winning in 15 minutes, 26.84 seconds while Brenna won by a 27-second margin, finishing in 18:48.71.
The Gig Harbor boys and Bellarmine Prep girls — both defending Class 4A state champions — won the league team crowns.
In 3A Narrows, Capital’s Lauren Pierson captured her third league title, but first in this league after the school moved up from the 2A Evergreen Conference. She won in 19:01.21 as Capital edged Central Kitsap for its ninth consecutive league team title.
And in the 3A Narrows boys race, North Thurston’s Peter Allegre outkicked favored Cameron Carroll, of Central Kitsap, in the final few meters. Allegre won in 16:11.16, just ahead of Carroll’s 16:11.18.
On a rainy, muddy, slippery day like Wednesday, the strategy was more about racing and surviving, and less about matching a good time.
“I was pretty well-prepared for it mentally,” Brenna said. “I knew it was going to be tough. I knew the time was going to be slow. So I made sure the effort was there.”
The boys’ race was supposed to be a showdown among Tristan Peloquin, Bellarmine Prep’s Jack Yearian and Olympia’s Peter Kesting, who was attempting to return from a serious right hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined much of this season.
And it turned out to be a one-sided affair. Peloquin dashed out to a big lead and was never threatened. Yearian placed second in 15:54.76. And Kesting got a mile into the race before stopping.
“It was a good day, for sure, for me and the team,” Peloquin said. “We ran really well.”
The Tides lost a lot from last year’s Nike Cross Nationals championship squad. But with Peloquin returning as one of the state’s top runners, and the emergence of Michael Hammer (fourth Wednesday in 16:04.29) and Ryan Gregory (fifth in 16:05.11), they appear primed for another big run.
“To come back and try and follow in their footsteps has been tough, but I think we’ve responded really well,” Peloquin said. “Today was a confidence booster, for sure.”
As for Kesting, the reigning West Central District champion, he is not certain he will try and defend that title next week at the Westside Classic at American Lake Golf Course. He said he might give his hamstring another week of rest, and assuming his squad can advance to the state meet, he will compete in Pasco.
“It is really frustrating because I’ve never been injured before,” Kesting said. “This has been going off and on for 10 months.”