OLYMPIA – Capital High School sophomore Lauren Pierson finished second in the 2A girls race at Saturday’s District IV 2A, 1A, 2B/1B cross country championships, but she might’ve won first place for the runner wearing the most mud after the race.
Conditions at The Evergreen State College were less than ideal – a steady rain from the first race at 11 a.m. to the final race around 3 p.m. made for a muddy course that got worse as the day went along. By the time the 2A girls and 2A boys wrapped up, every runner was soaked and their rears were covered in mud when they crossed the finish line.
For Pierson, mud coated her almost head to toe.
“I told her we would retire that uniform, because we don’t know if we can get it clean,” Capital girls coach Kevin Wright said.
Pierson’s runner-up finish in 19 minutes, 41.27 seconds was part of a big day for the Capital girls, who clinched their first district title since 2007 with an eye-popping meet-low 27 points. Wright called this his best team since 2007, with six of the team’s seven runners placing in the top 15. Washougal (87 points) and Mark Morris (98) were second and third, respectively. Three of Capital’s runners ran sub-20-minute times – Pierson, Hannah Hartman (third, 19:44.24), and Nicole Hartman (fifth, 19:49.90). Mark Morris’ Melissa Starr won the 2A girls individual title, pulling away from Pierson late to win in 19:36.90.
“I felt I had a little bit left in the tank,” Pierson said after her race.
The top three 2A teams and the top 15 individuals not on a state-qualifying team advanced to next weekend’s state cross country championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. For 1A, it’s the top four teams and 25 individuals and in 2B/1B, the top four teams and 20 individuals for boys and top three teams and 15 individuals for girls.
Pierson and Starr were part of a quartet of girls in the front of the pack for the first two miles before Pierson and Starr pulled away for the rest of the 3.1-mile race. Pierson, the 2A Evergreen Conference subdistrict champion last week, led virtually from start to finish in her victory last week, but took a more conservative approach Saturday.
“We looked at the course and decided where you would want to be close to cutting the course a bit – legally – but also when you want to be on the outside,” Pierson said. “Coach told me to try and go out front, but be conservative.”
The Tumwater boys claimed their first district crown since 2007, winning the 2A boys race with 81 points, led by Stanley Walker (ninth, 16:42.16) and Brent Knutzen (11th, 16:49.63). Joining the Tumwater team at state from District IV will be Mark Morris (93 points) and Capital (95). Tumwater coach Rich Brown said his boys team’s strength is running as a pack, which favors them at larger meets.
“We don’t have a standout frontrunner, but they stand out as a group,” Brown said. “They’ve had phenomenal times as a pack all season.”
Aberdeen’s Poli Baltazar cruised to the 2A boys individual title in 15:30.70 – 38 seconds ahead of runner-up Sean Eustis (16:08.97) of Washougal. W.F. West senior Dallas Snider was fourth (16:13.88) at the district meet for the second year in a row. Although the Bearcats fell short of their first district team title since 1968, he will be striving for a top-5 individual finish next weekend in Pasco.
“I feel great,” Snider said. “I didn’t want to go out too hard because of the mud. I wish I had more time to get used to it.”
In 2B, Northwest Christian swept the team titles, and the girls will be heavy favorites to win the Navigators’ record seventh title next weekend at the 2B state championships. Hailey Bredeson (19:50.81) won the individual 2B girls race, followed by teammates Anna Brooks (fourth, 20:29.80) and Megan Teigen (fifth, 20:49.59) in the top five.
Sam Beam finished second (17:19.02) and Brandon Stickney third (17:21.46) in the boys race for the Navigators.
Elma’s pair of freshmen – Wesley Allen (17:08.12) and Dylan Bennett (17:33.44) – were fourth and ninth, respectively, in the 1A boys race, which was won by Montesano’s Tyson Lovell (16:26.41).
A pair of Rochester girls – Kenna Fosnacht (fifth, 20:36..09) and Guadalupe Vazquez (18th, 22:07.28) – advanced to state, while LaCenter swept the 1A team titles.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org @megwochnick