The Olympia senior pulled away from Elma’s Todd Jackson one mile into a 3.1-mile race and won the Fort Steilacoom Invitational by 18 seconds on an overcast afternoon.
Brennand, who was not expecting to lead from start to finish, ran the first mile in five minutes, opening a five-second lead over Jackson.
Brennand finished in 15 minutes and 40 seconds, the sixth-best time in the 13-year-history of the cross country meet.
“Early on, it was me and Jackson,” Brennand said. “I was hoping he’d take the lead and push me.”
But neither Jackson, who was bothered by a hip injury, nor Chehalis’ Dakota Parker, who was hampered by a virus, had the stamina to match Brennand’s pace.
“I couldn’t stay with him,” Jackson said. “I’m battling a hip injury. It’s hurt my training. I’ll need a couple of weeks of good training to get back where I was.”
Jackson won the 3,200 meters at the 2A state track meet last spring.
“He’s legit,” Elma coach Dave Beeler said. “He likes the big meets.”
Brennand, who kept a 5:03-per-mile pace, set a personal best by 20 seconds.
“After the mile he flashed me the ‘OK’ sign,” Olympia coach Jesse Stevick said. “I knew he was OK. The game plan was not to have Nate take the lead. Dakota usually takes it.”
But Parker didn’t feel well all week and lacked spunk Saturday. He finished sixth in 16:07.
“Next week will be better,” Parker said. “I promise.”
Northwest Christian’s Justin Holden finished eighth, giving the South Sound four runners in the top 10 in a meet that drew 48 schools and 1,500 runners. None of them could catch Brennand.
“Nate thrives under pressure,” Stevick said. “It was a great time for him. But not by any means is he peaking.”
Brennand will have a chance to do that Saturday when Olympia competes at an invitational at Stanford University.
In Saturday’s girls race, Lindbergh junior Sarah Reiter overcame her jitters and ran the best race of her life to win in 18:17, shattering the two-year-old meet record set by Olympia’s Annie Dear by 13 seconds.
Reiter, keeping a 5:54 pace, pulled away from a pack of four runners a mile into the race. She ran alone for the last 1.5 miles and had a personal best by 40 seconds.
“I was so nervous at the start,” Reiter said. “I had no idea. My coach said to go out and see how I feel. I felt good.”
North Thurston freshman Hallie Whitley placed ninth and was the top South Sound runner in the girls race, finishing in 19:55. It was the first time Whitley had run 3.1 miles in under 20 minutes.
“I just wanted to beat my own best time,” Whitley said. “I wanted to get into the 19s. I was a little nervous. But I felt good.”
Olympia girls coach Cris Violette was pleased by his young team’s showing. His top two finishers were freshmen Sofia Kane and Grace Bell. Kane finished 23rd in 20:43, and Bell was 26th in 21:00, helping the Bears place third as a team.
“This is the best freshman pack I’ve coached,” Violette said. “For a young team, they ran hard and ran competitively.”
Shadle Park, which placed three runners in the top four, won the girls title. Chehalis, with four in the top 32, won the boys team title.
The Northwest Christian girls placed two in the top 15 and finished fifth overall. Hailey Bredeson finished 12th in 20:09, and Joanna Sowers placed 15th in 20:21 for the Navigators.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 email@example.com