Bellarmine Prep senior Jack Yearian likened the Class 4A boys race to a boat — everyone’s in it together.
Well, he and the rest of the runners at the 4A/3A/1A Westside Classic cross country championships probably could have used a boat at American Veterans Golf Course on Saturday.
Each of the 825 athletes in eight boys and girls events had to endure inclement weather in the 5,000-meter race.
“It was clearly a little wet,” Yearian said.
Though that’s not exactly what Yearian, who placed sixth with a time of 17 minutes, 16.6 seconds, meant by “everyone’s in the same boat.”
“This week is used to qualify,” he said. “Obviously, if you’re on the bubble, you maybe can’t afford to do it, but when you get up to the top teams, a lot of the guys know it’s unspoken and you’re just kind of cruising.”
Cruising — sort of.
There was some dodging puddles and trudging through mud. Tahoma senior Graeme Schroeder even slipped and fell on a hill midway through the race.
“I hopped up real quick,” he said. “It didn’t hurt; there was a nice cushion bed of mud. It didn’t slow me down much at all, I just had to get up.”
Schroeder, who finished third at 17:15.3, was in a pack of seven that finished within seven seconds of each other that included Yearian, Tahoma teammate Keegan Fitzpatrick (17:12.7), Gig Harbor’s Ryan Gregory (17:16.6) and Skyview’s Chanse Gilbert, who posted a winning time of 17:09.3.
“We’re all on competitive teams for a state title, so it’s about saving our energy,” Schroeder said.
Tahoma took the team title with 51 points, led by Fitzpatrick and Schroeder’s 2-3 punch. Bellarmine, Gig Harbor and Olympia also qualified.
Schroeder said the main focus of Saturday was keeping legs fresh for next week’s state meet in Pasco. Tahoma is chasing its first title after placing third last year — it lost by five points to Gig Harbor.
“We were so close to winning last year, the scores were so close,” Schroeder said. “We’re the only team that didn’t graduate anybody from that top group, so, we’re getting better.”
Mwaura dusts 3A boys race for individual title
Lincoln sophomore James Mwaura was alone when he crossed the finish line with a time of 16:18.2.
And he was alone for 21 seconds after that until North Thurston senior Peter Allegre crossed it for second place.
“I came out 4:52 in the first mile, which is where I was supposed to be,” Mwaura said. “I had a lead and was cruising the last mile.”
Mwaura led the entire race and posted the best time of any runner in any classification.
“He’s on another level,” Allegre said.
Central Kitsap took the 3A boys title with 68 points. Peninsula and Bonney Lake took second and third to qualify for state.
After losing to Emma Sjolund at last weekend’s 3A sub-district meet, Tatiana Smith’s primary focus was to best the Sumner sophomore on Saturday.
She did one better.
Yes, she beat Sjolund by 15 seconds. She also took first, positing the second-best time for a freshman girl in any classification at 19:53.
Smith drafted Sjolund and Hazen’s Kate Lilly for most of the race before slipping into first during the final mile.
“They kept battling and I was just right there,” Smith said.
Lakes was the sixth and final 3A girls team to qualify for state with 172 points, while Enumclaw took the title with 73. Sumner and Peninsula also qualified.
The 2A girls race saw a similar freshman effort from Steilacoom’s Alexandra Potter. She finished at 20:25.10, seven seconds back from first-place Feven Fessehatzion of Lindbergh.
“I tried not to go out fast and just chill,” Potter said. “When we hit the hills, people started to die and I was able to catch up. The last bit, it really started to pour, and that’s where I started to push.”
Steilacoom finished second as a team to qualify for state, with a 1:49 spread between its top five runners.
Tarriers, Pirates sink competition
Freshman Eric Jones (18:34) and sophomore Adam Berg (18:34.1) finished 3-4 for Charles Wright Academy as the Tarriers won the 1A boys district title. All five runners finished in the top 13.
With a spread of 56 seconds between its top five, the Vashon Island girls secured the 1A title. A cluster of runners — freshman Lucy Boyle (22:43.8), junior Jessica Merritt (22:57.8) and junior Selena Mildon (22:58.6) — finished 6-7-8 to lead the Pirates.
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