This year, the conditions were less soggy at American Lake Veterans Golf Course — and Tommy Johnson liked that a lot better.
Johnson, a senior at North Thurston High School, was the top local finisher at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A Westside Classic cross country championships on Saturday in Lakewood.
“For this race, I just wanted to qualify for state,” Johnson said.
He did, for the fourth consecutive year, picking off several runners in the second half of the 3A boys race to finish fifth on the 5,000-meter course in 16 minutes, 43.3 seconds.
This is the third time in his career with the Rams that he has finished sixth or better. He’s taken fifth twice.
“This is probably one of the hardest courses, so I try not to tire out,” Johnson said. “One of the main places I want to make a move is on the back stretch, because it’s nice and flat.”
Johnson was several strides behind the leaders — stepping in and out of 11th place alongside a runner from Spanaway Lake — midway through the race.
He reeled in six runners, finally passing Lakes’ Brian Morton for the fifth-place spot.
“I never looked back,” Johnson said. “I pretty much knew that, now, he has to catch up to me.”
Johnson sprinted, crossing the finish line almost seven seconds before Morton. He was one of only seven runners to break the 17-minute mark.
“That’s pretty much my strong point is out-kicking people at the end,” Johnson said.
He was one of 43 individuals in the area — racing at three different sites — to qualify for next week’s state championships in Pasco.
Olympia’s Kiersten Kimminau was the only other local to place in the top 10 at the Westside Classic. She took 10th in the 4A girls race (19:43.8).
Capital’s girls team advanced. The Cougars took fourth (124 points), led by senior Bella Torres, who finished 13th in 20:21.9.
“I’m really excited for the whole team to be coming because there are such great individuals as well,” Torres said. “Cross country isn’t just an individual sport, it’s a team sport.”
GROAT GRABS TITLE
Ridgefield’s Silas Griffith went off course and Evan Groat capitalized at Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland.
Griffith had a comfortable lead, but took a wrong turn, giving Groat an opportunity to pass. Groat remained on track, eventually edging Griffith by four seconds, to capture the 2A boys title at the 2A/1A Southwest District IV championships.
Groat ran a season-best 16:19 on the 5,000-meter course to pace Tumwater, which took second in the team race to qualify for the 2A state meet.
Joseph Morrissey took third in the race (16:25), while Rochester’s Kelin Pasko took ninth (16:48).
Ava Shackell, a Black Hills sophomore, was the top local finisher in the 2A girls race, finishing in 20:22.
The Tumwater girls team qualified for the state meet, finishing second, led by Savannah Owen (eighth, 20:40) and Lillian Gow (ninth, 20:45).
Northwest Christian’s Luke Schilter set a school and district record, cruising to a personal-best 15:05.45 finish at the 2B/1B Southwest District IV championships at Onalaska High School.
Schilter finished nearly 55 seconds before Adna’s Austen Apperson, who took second at 15:55.01 on the 5,000-meter course.
The Navigators — who are the two-time defending state champions in 2B — had six runners place in the top 10.
The girls team won its 10th district championship in school history, led by Megan McSheffrey, who won the individual title with a personal-best 18:54.55. Ellie Summers took second for the Navigators with a personal-best 19:03.49.
Rainier took second in the team competition, led by Elaina Hansen (fourth, 20:03.66).
CROSS COUNTRY STATE QUALIFIERS — TEAMS
2A — 2. Tumwater, 66. (Lewis River Golf Course)
2B — 1. Northwest Christian, 25. (Onalaska High School)
3A — 2. Capital, 66. (American Lake Golf Course)
2A — 2. Tumwater, 83. (Lewis River Golf Course)
2B — 1. Northwest Christian, 28; 2. Rainier, 63. (Onalaska High School)
CROSS COUNTRY STATE QUALIFIERS — INDIVIDUALS
4A/3A/2A/1A WESTSIDE CLASSIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
American Lake Golf Course, Lakewood
4A — 51. Tilahun Castro (Olympia) 17:31.2.
3A — 5. Tommy Johnson (North Thurston) 16:48.3; 13. William Johnson (Shelton) 17:12.9; 24. Jamison Spence (Capital) 17:38; 25. Ethan Duwors (Timberline) 17:38.7; 26. Parker Risk (Timberline) 17:39.2.
4A — 10. Kiersten Kimminau (Olympia) 19:43.8; 23. Stella Grimsted (Olympia) 20:12.5.
3A — 13. Bella Torres (Capital) 20:21.9; 15. Naomi Reyes (Capital) 20:31.5; 20. Kallie Kidder (Capital) 20:52; 33. Natalie Cornwall (Timberline) 21:10.9.
2A/1A SOUTHWEST DISTRICT IV CHAMPIONSHIPS
Lewis River Golf Course, Woodland
2A — 1. Evan Groat (Tumwater) 16:19; 3. Joseph Morrissey (Tumwater) 16:25; 9. Kelin Pasko (Rochester) 16:48; 11. Daniel Morales (Centralia) 17:04; 14. Pearse Popchock (Black Hills) 17:13; 15. Coe Johnson (Tumwater) 17:14; 20. Ryan Knight (Tumwater) 17:26.
1A — 13. Dylan Volz (Elma) 18:07.
2A — 3. Ava Shackell (Black Hills) 20:22; 8. Savannah Owen (Tumwater) 20:40; 9. Lillian Gow (Tumwater) 20:45; 10. Magdalena Wood-Richardson (Centralia) 20:50; 11. Makayla Erickson (Centralia) 20:52; 15. Hannah Reynolds (Tumwater) 21:08; 21. Emma Moon (W.F. West) 21:38.
2B/1B SOUTHWEST DISTRICT IV CHAMPIONSHIPS
Onalaska High School
2B — 1. Luke Schilter (NWC) 15:05.45; 4. Corban Phillips (NWC) 16:14; 5. Noah Phillips (NWC) 16:22.07; 6. Garrett McSheffrey (NWC) 16:25.49; 9. Stephen Epp (NWC) 16:44.20; 10. Eli Taylor (NWC) 16:56.17; 13. Ryan Derry (NWC) 17:11; 16. Brighton Klein (Rainier) 17:41.21.
2B — 1. Megan McSheffrey (Northwest Christian) 18:54.55; 2. Ellie Summers (Northwest Christian) 19:03.49; 4. Elaina Hansen (Rainier) 20:03.66; 5. Elizabeth Stottlemyre (Northwest Christian) 20:16.71; 7. Sophie Beadle (Rainier) 20:36.87; 13. Nina Fraser (Northwest Christian) 21:12.07; 15. Clara Wagner (Rainier) 21:20.76; 16. Jacalyn Tague (Northwest Christian) 21:22.81; 27. Leslie Camacho (Rainier) 22:04.68.