Cody Williamson knew he was close to the finish.
The Shelton High junior could hear the music thundering from the speakers, the day’s playlist featuring a heavy rotation of classic rock from the 1970s.
A few more strides and he could make out the murmur of the applauding crowd.
“Once I heard the crowd, I looked back behind me and didn’t see anyone,” Williamson said. “No one was breathing down my neck. I knew I could start to ease up.”
Williamson made it look easy, winning his division at the annual Capital Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at Capital High School.
Approximately 1,000 runners from 23 schools participated in the 2.33 mile race.
The meet, like in previous years, had separate races for each class – freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“It’s a great event to kick off the season. There’s music playing, big crowd, great runners,” said Williamson, whose time of 12 minutes, 5.19 seconds was nearly 16 seconds faster than any other runner in his class. “Distance running is difficult. You usually don’t have a large crowd cheering you on. Here, you do.”
Williamson did have one disappointment on the day – the absence of Gig Harbor, the defending Class 4A state champion.
“Gig Harbor runners push you,” Williamson said. “There was a lot of competition today, but it would have been nice to run against them.”
Williamson captured the sophomore division at last year’s event, stopping the clock in 12:33.30. Gig Harbor runners Logan Carroll (12:35.43) and Wolfgang Beck (12:35.86) were with him stride-for-stride, finishing second and third.
“I always look forward to running against them,” Williamson said. “It’s easy to get motivated when you see them lining up against you. Today I wasn’t really thinking about times. I just wanted to go out there and run.”
Williamson wasn’t the only repeat winner as W.F. West senior Dallas Snider followed up his win last year with another title, winning the senior boys division in 11:58.94.
Olympia’s Nate Van Haitsma was second (12:10.65) and Snider’s teammate Danny Robertson was third (12:13.31).
“My times wouldn’t be close to where they are if it wasn’t for him,” said Snider about running with Robertson for four years. “Danny beat me last week. I’m just one of those people who hates losing so I figured I had to beat him this week.”
Robertson edged Snider, who placed 17th at the Class 2A meet last season, at the Gordy Robertson Invite in Tenino last week.
The duo finished first and second at last year’s Capital Invite as juniors, with Snider nipping Robertson for the title by less than half a second.
Olympia’s Sofia Kane and Prairie’s Nicole Goecke came up with the finish of the meet in the junior division on the girls’ side.
Kane, who finished third in the event in 2010 as a freshman and second last year, crossed the wire in 13:55.58. Goecke, who took first place as a sophomore and second as a freshman, was an eyelash behind Kane, finishing in 13:55.86.
Kane’s time was a course and meet record.
Kane finished 13th at the 4A state meet last year, while Goecke finished 16th at the 3A level, helping the Falcons to a fifth-place finish overall.
Olympia’s Peter Kesting captured the boys sophomore title with a speedy time of 11:51.36, defeating runner-up and last year’s freshman champion Aaron Roe of Jackson (11:56.87).
Brooke Kingma of Jackson posted a first-place finish among the sophomore girls with a time of 14:34.09.
Capital’s Lauren Pierson (14:41.38) wasn’t very behind, finishing second.
“It’s nice to be on a course you are used to practicing on,” said Pierson, who finished fourth as a freshman. “My goal was to break the 15-minute mark and I was able to do that.
“I like the format of running against other people in my class. It gives you a good understanding of where you are at.”
Northwest Christian’s Hailey Bredson (15:00.73) finished second among the senior girls.