Runners are educated and perceptive people, so Olympia High School’s Peter Kesting knew exactly what was unfolding Saturday.
Kesting won the school’s first Westside Classic district boys’ cross country title on a cold, blustery afternoon at American Lake Golf Course, covering the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 10.7 seconds to edge runner-up Riley Campbell, of Tahoma, by nearly seven seconds.
But the victory just didn’t feel right. Where was Wolfgang Beck, Gig Harbor High School’s talented runner, and defending district champion? Where was Logan Carroll, Beck’s teammate, or for that matter the entire Tides’ squad?
With the Tides deciding to ease up and do the minimum to qualify for next week’s Class 4A state championships in Pasco, that left Kesting alone in the lead Saturday.
Not that he was celebrating his triumph whole-heartedly.
“I wish they (Gig Harbor runners) would have raced, but I can kind of understand it because they are saving up for nationals and they don’t want to get burned out,” Kesting said.
Kesting took the lead for good a mile into the race. And to his surprise, a familiar face began chasing him – teammate Ben Gilvar Parke, who ended up placing third in 16:20.6.
“He has always been a ways behind me,” Kesting said, “but he is catching me.”
On the 4A girls’ side, Bears’ standout Sofia Kane was the highest Narrows League finisher. Avenging a loss to Central Kitsap’s Rose Christen from last week’s league meet, Kane took fifth at districts Saturday in 18:52.3 – nearly six seconds faster than Christen, who was sixth.
Kane seems fully recovered from an early hip injury that limited her workouts for nearly three weeks.
“Training-wise, I wish we were a little bit further ahead,” Olympia girls coach Cris Violette said. “But she is coming along at the right time. She had a good day today.”
It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Shelton’s Cody Williamson. He admitted something about his distance-running training has been amiss. And at last week’s Narrows 3A championships, he took a wrong turn during the race, and lost to North Thurston’s James Jasperson at the finish line.
But Williamson thought maybe something about this district course – one where he was victorious last season – would spark something. And he tried to be aggressive in the first mile and take a lead.
“Couldn’t do it – I got boxed in,” Williamson said. “And I was hurting the whole race. I am not a guy who likes to put up excuses, but I didn’t feel it today.”
Jasperson did lead for the first mile. Then an unyielding headwind began wearing him down. He ended up placing fifth at 16:56.8, one spot behind Williamson (16:50.3).
“We were going slow (the first mile) – at a 5:15 pace,” Jasperson said. “At that point, I was hoping people would merge in front of me so they could take on the wind. But I was the wind shield, at least for a while. Once I sat back and got to the hills, I kind of died off.”
North Thurston’s Hallie Whitley (ninth at 20:39.8) and Shelton’s Anika Parker (10th at 20:43.4) placed inside the top 10 in the 3A girls’ meet.