A Bear on the prowl

prep cross-country: Olympia High junior Sofia Kane has her sights set on a career-best finish at the state meet Saturday in Pasco

mwochnick@theolympian.comNovember 2, 2012 

Sofia Kane laces up her running shoes, undeterred by the constant rain that has pounded Thurston County in recent days.

The harsh elements hardly seem noticeable to the Olympia High School junior.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Kane said about running in the lousy weather. “When you’re a year-round runner, especially one from this area, you have to get used to it.”

Adaptability – it’s a key factor in what makes a cross-country runner successful.

Runners are challenged by the course, the weather, opponents who can drastically change the pace and completely alter the dynamics of the race.

“You can run the same course multiple times and never have the same race twice,” Kane said. “I just fell in love with the sport the moment I started it.”

Kane will be one of approximately 150 runners from 67 different high schools competing Saturday in the Class 4A state cross-country championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

For many of the competitors, simply advancing to state fulfills their No. 1 goal for the season.

But for a select few, Kane included, a

top finish over the 5,000-meter course is expected.

“I think she has a realistic shot at finishing in the top eight,” Olympia cross-country coach Cris Violette said. “She’s that good.”

As a sophomore, Kane finished 13th last year in 18 minutes, 47.7 seconds – a mere 6.2 seconds from cracking the top 10.

“She trimmed nearly a full minute off her time from her freshman to sophomore years,” Violette said. “That really is remarkable. A lot of runners asked me how she did it. She did it during the summertime, when no coaches were around. She pushes herself year-round to improve.”

Kane’s dedication has more than paid off this season.

She finished second to defending 4A state champion Jordan McPhee of Mount Rainier (18:50.6) at the Fort Steilacoom Invitational on Sept. 3, crossing the lime in 18:57.6.

Three consecutive first-places finishes followed – all under 18:20.

Her time of 18:18 on Oct. 3 in a Narrows League meet with Wilson and Central Kitsap was the sixth-fasted time this year in the 4A ranks.

“There’s really no other sport like it,” said Kane, whose sister, Clare, finished 16th at the 4A state meet as a senior in 2009. “There are really no words how to describe how great it feels when you finish a race.”

After winning the Narrows League championship in 18:19.12, Kane finished 11th at the Westside Classic on Saturday, stopping the clock in 19:06.3.

Her unusually slow time can be attributed to battling a cold throughout the week leading up to the meet.

“I’m doing a lot better now,” Kane said. “Still fighting it a little, but I should be fine by the weekend. I’m just excited about getting to run in Pasco again.”

This will mark the third consecutive state appearance for Kane, who finished 80th (20:08.0) in her freshman season.

“She’s about as likable a person as you’ll find,” Violette said. “She goes out there every day and pushes herself no matter what she’s doing. She’s a 4.0 student, very humble. She’s just a fantastic individual.”

State HIGH SCHOOL cross-country championships

SATURDAY At Sun Willows Golf Course, Pasco

Race times: Wheelchair division, 9:30 a.m.; Class 2B/1B girls, 10 a.m.; Class 1A girls, 10:30 a.m.; Class 2A girls, 11 a.m.; Class 2B/1B boys, 11:30 a.m.; Class 1A boys, noon; Class 3A girls, 12:30 p.m.; Class 4A girls, 1 p.m.; Class 2A boys, 1:30 p.m.; Class 3A boys, 2 p.m.; Class 4A boys, 2:30 p.m.

THREE STORY LINES TO FOLLOW

Is lucky No. 7 in Northwest Christian’s future?

Northwest Christian, ranked No. 1 all season in the Class 2B/1B girls statewide poll of coaches, has been head and shoulders above other 2B/1B teams the past six years, and the Navigators don’t look to be slowing down soon. Led by senior Hailey Bredeson, who won the 2B District IV individual title last week, the Navigators are favored to earn their seventh consecutive girls team title.

Can Capital girls challenge Sehome?

In their first year as a 2A program, the Capital girls have a good chance to make some noise in Pasco. The Cougars have qualified for state 13 years in a row, the longest run of any public school. Sehome of Bellingham is an overwhelming favorite to win the 2A girls title, so it’s a battle for second place. Look for Capital to challenge for that spot after its strong showing last week at district, where four runners placed in the top 10. Coach Kevin Wright says this is his best team since 2007.

Watch out for W.F. West’s “D to the third power”

The Bearcats’ hopes for winning the boys district title were dashed last weekend, but the team still qualified its top three runners. Ccoach Amber Cruzan calls them – seniors Dallas Snider, Denver Parker and Danny Robertson – “D to the third power.” This is the fourth straight appearance at state for Parker and Robertson and the third for Snider. The 2A boys individual champion could come from District IV – Aberdeen’s Poli Baltazar has the state’s fastest time by 18 seconds. theolympian.com/southsoundsports mwochnick@theolympian.com

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