A year ago, North Thurston sent just one girl to the state cross country championships. Now Hallie Whitley is back for her junior season – and determined to have company in Pasco.
The Rams built on an impressive season that included an unblemished league record by winning the Class 3A Narrows League championship on Wednesday at Fort Steilacoom Park. Whitley’s first-place finish, in 20 minutes, 6.90 seconds, helped her school win the meet, with 42 points.
“Today was really awesome,” she said. “I was super excited coming in because our girls have been doing so well.”
Whitley said that maintaining a big lead is simply a matter of mindset. She finished the 5-kilometer race well ahead of Timberline senior Kenna Valentich (20:21.48).
“I do a lot of, ‘OK, you cannot let her pass you; you have to keep your lead,’ ” she said. “And I listen a lot for spikes on gravel or spikes on cement, that sort of thing.”
North Thurston junior Caitlyn Goodwin, who finished third, in 21:21.84, said that Whitley’s success last year – she finished 28th at state – has motivated the other girls.
“I feel like we’re all looking at her as a standard now, and we’re all trying to catch up, one after another,” she said. “We see the person in front of us, see their back, and we target it.”
Whitley, who also ran on North Thurston’s first-ever state team in 2010, said the group has gone from three girls total at the end of last season to seven just on varsity.
“We’ve made a huge jump, and are all doing super well,” she said. “Coming in, we wanted to see how we’d do, and I think we were pretty dang impressive.”
Shelton junior Cody Williamson won the 3A boys race, in 16.32.04, as his team finished first with 33 points – one point ahead of North Thurston.
On the 4A side, Gig Harbor junior Wolfgang Beck used a “slow acceleration” to win the boys competition in 15:21.46.
Beck picked it up a little more on each hill, and then took it fast down the final stretch.
“It isn’t my usual tactic, but I was testing things out,” he said. “League is the place to do it.”
Olympia junior Sofia Kane won the girls race, in 18:19.12 – and said she didn’t expect to finish first.
“I crossed the line and I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I just knew that if I wanted to have a shot I’d have to push it from the beginning and keep my pace up the whole time.”
Bellarmine Prep’s girls won the team competition, with 35 points, and defending state champion Gig Harbor took first for the boys with 30.
CAPITAL GIRLS DOMINATE EVCO FIELD
Led by four runners who placed in the top five, the Capital girls cross country team cruised to the team title at the 2A Evergreen Conference championships Wednesday at Deschutes River Ranch in Olympia.
Capital sophomore Lauren Pierson was the girls overall winner, finishing in 19:39.09 – almost a half-minute faster than runner-up Carry Larson of Centralia (20:05.30).
Capital’s Nicole Hartman (20:06.41), Hannah Hartman (20:13.28) and Christine Maggi (20:23.22) rounded out the top five.
Nine of the 10 finishers were from high schools in Thurston County. Freshmen Alex Bonner (Tumwater) and Ashli Ayers (River Ridge) finished sixth and seventh, respectively, followed by Tumwater’s Berhanie Knutzen, Black Hills’ Danielle Won and Capital’s Eliza Ramsey.
On the boys side, Aberdeen’s Poli Baltazar (15:35.62) defended his individual subdistrict title.
W.F. West’s Dallas Snider (16:21.75), Danny Robertson (16:38.28) and Denver Parker (16:47.56) finished second, fourth and sixth, respectively, to lead the Bearcats to the boys team title.
Capital’s Ben Monk was third (16:21.75).
Black Hills and Tumwater each had a pair of runners in the top 10. For Black Hills, Brandon Huntley (16:45.12) was fifth, and freshman JP Guyer (16:56.99) placed 10th. For Tumwater, Brent Knutzen (16:54.31) and Stanley Walker (16:55.20) were seventh and eighth, respectively.
CALKINS LEADS AFTER DAY 1 AT DISTRICT
W.F. West senior Brady Calkins shot an even-par 72 and was the leader after the opening round of the 2A District IV boys golf tournament at Three Rivers Golf Course in Kelso. Black Hills’ Jake Shier (74) was in a three-way tie for second with W.F. West’s Jared Rasmussen and Hockinson’s Jarerd Gomez.
The top 41 golfers advanced to today’s final round, which begins at 10 a.m. Shier, Gomez and Calkins will be the final threesome for today’s round.
Tumwater’s Heath Ohnemus (77) was in a three-way tie for seventh place.Staff writer Meg Wochnick contributed to this report. preps.theolympian.com