They stood in the chute after the finish line — Northwest Christian cross country runners Jude Phillips, Noah Phillips and Hamilton Summers.
As each runner finishing behind them at the Class 2B/1B state cross country championships came through the chute, the Navigators high-fived, patted them on their backs, or just offered general words of encouragement and congratulations.
It’s what you do in a successful cross country program — especially one that won its fifth straight 2B/1B boys team title on Saturday.
“Actually, we had a team meeting last night (Friday),” Noah Phillips said. “I didn’t do well last year, and I got mad and went back to the team tent.
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“Garrett McSheffrey didn’t do well either last year, but he took it better than I did. Garrett reminded us last night that we should be doing things like this, to make sure we’re representing Christ.”
Northwest Christian coach Mike Michaels said his team tries to do things like that all of the time.
“They’re just a great group of guys,” he said.
Great guys and winners, too.
The Navigators had three placers in the top 10 and rolled to the team title, finishing with 59 points, just ahead of second-place Pope John Paul II, another Lacey school, and its 135 points.
“We had the title on our radar,” Michaels said. “But we were looking at Asotin and their orange jerseys out there. They just didn’t run as well. Instead (Pope) John Paul II was second.”
Michaels said they never usually run against their hometown neighbors.
“We got to a lot of big school races,” he said.
It helps their performance, starting with Noah Phillips’ second-place finish.
He wasn’t going to run past Adna’s Austen Apperson — no one was. Apperson defended his title, winning easily in 15:56.40.
But Noah Phillips kept plugging away.
“After the 2-mile mark, I knew I was going for second,” Noah Phillips said. “Austen is just so good.”
He finished in 16:21.30, and McSheffrey wasn’t far behind in sixth at 16:43.90. Cameron Nielsen placed eighth at 16:56.80.
Kobe Deutscher (seventh) and Caden Deutscher (ninth) were top-10 placers for Pope John Paul II.
Other top Olympia area placers included Summers of Northwest Christian (21st), Mattox Marsh of Pope John Paul II (44th), and Northwest Christian’s Jude Phillips (49th) and Carson Buster (50th).
In the girls 2B/1B race, Rainier’s Elaina Hansen placed fourth in 19:50.20. Liberty Bell’s Novie McCabe won her second straight state title with a time of 18:27.40.
Rainier’s Selena Niemi (seventh), Pope John Paul II’s Clare Kondrat (19th), and Northwest Christian’s Tosin Faleke (26th) and Jacalyn Tague (38th) also placed high in the girls’ race.
Liberty Bell also defended its 2B/1B girls team title with 56 points. Rainier placed third (122 points) and Northwest Christian fourth (137).
Olympia’s Connor Griffith finished 12th in the boys 4A race, which was won by Mt. Si’s Joe Waskom. Griffith finished the 5,000-meter course in 15:43.10.
In the 3A boys race, Yelm’s Bryce Cerkowniak finished eighth in 15:55.