Under the lights at Lincoln Bowl at Lincoln High School, it’s much easier to imagine football players and Friday Night Lights than it is cross country runners and Wednesday Night Spikes.
Now throw in some hay bales for the runners to jump over and blaring music.
“It’s probably the funnest race all season besides the championship,” said Shelton sophomore William Johnson.
Johnson placed third in the main boys race on the two-mile course around the track, finishing in 10 minutes, 2.37 seconds as Lincoln’s James Mwaura took first place in the seventh annual Narrows Twilight Meet. Colin Monaghan of Puyallup was second.
The Narrows League no longer exists, but meet founders Duane Lee of Lincoln and Matt Ellis of Bellarmine Prep said they chose to keep the Narrows name this season. Puyallup was the only school that competed in Wednesday’s race that hadn’t been a member of the 4A or 3A Narrows.
Johnson finished just ahead of Puyallup’s Andrew Oslin despite quickly losing sight of Mwuara, who finished first in 9:22.66.
“I felt I did awesome,” Johnson said.
Olympia’s Tilahun Castro, Dylan Miller, Sam Fleckenstein and Sayer McDonald took up the fifth-eighth places. All are sophomores and juniors, and all improved by at least 20 seconds on their times from last season.
“This team is deep,” Olympia coach Jesse Stevick said. “We just don’t have a front-runner. It’s a solid pack of guys.”
Castro, who finished in 10:11.70, said the difficulty in Wednesday’s race was just managing the hay bales.
The runners had to leap over a row of straw hay twice per lap in the eight-lap race. Castro said he tried to keep his stride over the bales, but by the last three or four laps chose to jump on top and leap off.
“Instead of using so much energy to jump, I just stepped on it and jumped forward,” Castro said.
“At some point you just stop noticing them,” Fleckenstein said.
They stopped noticing Mwaura, too. The Lincoln junior placed eighth at the 3A state meet last year and is a couple of weeks removed from setting the record at the Fort Steilacoom Invite.
He was lapping his competitors as he entered his final lap but was just off the Twilight meet record of 9:13.06 set by Gig Harbor’s Wolfgang Beck.
“He’s like the ghost that you are just trying to catch up to,” Castro said. “It doesn’t even feel like he’s part of the race he’s so far ahead.”
Puyallup’s Rachel Kastama won the top girls race in 11:24.48 — just ahead of second-place Karli Maenhout of Bellarmine Prep — and her twin sister, Sarah Kastama, took seventh in 12:19.22 after one of her spikes got caught as she tried to leap over one of the hay bales. She ended the race with a scuffed-up right shoulder.
Shelton’s Ne’a Moffett placed 17th in 12:49.83, and Anika Parker was 22nd, finishing in 13:19.19.
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