Cody Williamson had his mind set on playing football at Shelton High School during his freshman year.
He had never participated in any type of organized sport until eighth grade, taking on a full slate of athletics – track, basketball, wrestling and football.
It was the latter that Williamson planned to carry over into his high school years.
That is, until he ran into the Highclimbers’ cross country captain, who persuaded Williamson to give distance running a try. He relied on two vital bits of evidence to sway Williamson’s thinking.
“I was maybe 5-foot-3 and wasn’t very big,” Williamson recalled as being the major points of discussion during the conversation 21/2 years ago. “It didn’t take too much to convince me.”
After just two seasons, the decision has proved to be a wise one as Williamson enters his junior season as one of the state’s top Class 3A cross country runners.
He already has been impressive in his first two meets this year – winning his second consecutive Capital Invitational, a 2.23-mile event he covered in 12 minutes, 5.19 seconds; and posting a personal-best time of 16:08.1 at the 5,000-meter Fort Steilacoom Invitational.
“He’s only been in cross country a few years, but he’s a student of the sport,” Shelton cross country coach Daryl White said. “He’s a smart runner. He’s just delightful to coach.”
It was in Williamson’s sophomore season that he really began to blossom, finishing ninth at the Narrows League 4A championships and 39th at the state meet.
This season he will be running against 3A competitors because the Highclimbers have moved down a classification.
“I think depth-wise there’s much more in 4A,” Williamson said, “but I think when you’re talking about the top guys there’s just as much talent at the state level at 3A.”
Regardless of the classification, the ultimate goal remains a state title.
“He’s motivated,” White said. “He’s always trying to improve. He got a PR (at the Fort Steilacoom Invite), but there were still 10 runners who finished in front of him. He had a difficult start and was behind a lot of runners early. He had to use a lot of energy just to catch up to the leaders, but he’ll learn from it, become a better runner. That’s the type of athlete he is.”
In cross country, a runner’s adversary isn’t just the clock, it’s a multitude of things – the course, weather, other runners.
With 200 runners in the field, traffic is always a concern. It’s difficult to keep pace with the leaders while running behind a wall of people for half the race.
But it’s all these extra components that Williamson loves about his sport.
“It’s what makes it cross country,” Williamson said. “The truth is no one really wants to be out there running four or five miles a day. It’s insane. You don’t look forward to doing it until you’re done.”
That’s when the joy kicks in.
“It’s so rewarding,” Williamson said. “There’s no other sport like it. You really get out of it exactly what you put into it.”
It that’s the case, expect Williamson to be running at the next level in two years as he already has drawn interest from several colleges.
“I just got my second letter for Gonzaga,” Williamson said. “It would be incredible to go to school there and run for (coach) Pat Tyson.”
With plenty of time to narrow his college choices, Williamson will continue to focus on a state championship.
“I think things would have turned out a little different if I played football,” Williamson said with a laugh. “I’m pretty sure I made the right choice.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Is a seven-peat in the future for the Northwest Christian girls? It looks pretty promising. The Navigators have won six consecutive 2B state titles dating back to 2006, and welcome back senior Hailey Bredeson, who was fourth at state last year (19:46) and will contend for an individual title. … Four local programs are ranked in the recent cross country state rankings. NW Christian girls and boys are first and fifth, respectively, in the 2B rankings. The Capital girls have climbed to sixth in 2A, and the Olympia boys are eighth in 4A. … The Olympia boys won the Fort Steilacoom Invitational last weekend behind Peter Kesting’s fifth-place finish (15:51). On the girls side, Capital was second. … The Capital girls have qualified for state 12 consecutive years, which is the longest streak of any public school. BOYS
Brandon Burch, sr., Northwest Christian
James Jasperson, jr., North Thurston
Peter Kesting, so., Olympia
Dallas Snider, sr., W.F. West
Cody Williamson, jr., Shelton
Haley Bredeson, sr., Northwest Christian
Sofia Kane, jr., Olympia
Carry Larsen, sr., Centralia
Lauren Pierson, so., Capital
Hallie Whitley, jr., North Thurstonmwochnick@theolympian.com 10 RUNNERS TO WATCH