High School Sports

Ahead of the pack

To say that Kramer Cross is a talented soccer player would be an understatement.

Watch him play, and it's easy to see why he's one of the go-to players for Timberline.

Over the past four years, Cross, a center-midfielder, went from being a skilled freshman to one of the Class 3A Western Cascade Conference's prolific players. He totaled 54 goals and 52 assists in his four-year Blazers career, including 16 goals and 15 assists this season on his way to earning his second league MVP award.

To no surprise, Cross also is The Olympian's All-Area boys soccer player of the year.

"Kramer was a player that comes around once every five or 10 years," Timberline coach John Hayes said. "You hope a player like him comes along again soon. He helped turn the program around.

"We saw an opportunity to go somewhere when he arrived."

Prior to Cross' arrival, Timberline wasn't known for its soccer program. Previously a perennial sub-.500 team, the Blazers have finished no worse than fourth in the league in the past four years.

The Blazers finished 7-6-2 this year, good enough for third place in the WCC. Timberline ended its season with a 1-0 overtime loss to Franklin Pierce in the district playoffs.

"It was one of our better games of the year," he said. "Everyone was proud with the way we played. (Franklin Pierce) was a much bigger team, but we didn't let their style impose on us. We played our style."

Knowing the Blazers' season came to a sudden end on an overtime goal, Cross said he was proud of the team's defense.

"I've seen the seniors (in the past) leave the last game of the year always disappointed," Cross said. "We were disappointed, but I was proud of the way we played.

"We had an up-and-down season."

Cross, a two-year captain and three-time all-state selection, has rare qualities on the soccer field, Hayes said.

"His knowledge of the game sets Kramer apart," Hayes said. "His skill and knowledge is where it needs to be. He sees the game and field very well. We had set plays that were designed for his game."

But it's not just Cross whom the Blazers relied on for offensive production. Cross and teammate Justin Meyer were considered the go-to players when the team was in need off a goal.

During the Blazers' first meeting with crosstown rival North Thurston, Cross collided with another player, causing his tooth to go through his lower lip. While Cross was being attended to on the sidelines, it was Meyer who had two assists, helping Timberline to a 3-1 win.

"When we needed important goals, it would be ran through me or Justin," Cross said. "If one of us wasn't getting the ball or doing well with it, we knew the other could be counted on.

"I enjoy scoring, but I'll do whatever it takes (to win)."

The 5-foot-10, 155-pound Cross will stay close to home next season, as he signed a letter of intent to continue his soccer career at Saint Martin's University.

He is excited to be a part of the first signing class for the Saints' new soccer program.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun to start a program," Cross said. "Knowing that I was there for the very beginning of it. The first win ... hopefully the first conference title.

"The coaches are great," he said. "They are well-experienced."

Cross currently is on a 10-week preseason workout program that will get him ready for the first week of practice at SMU starting Aug. 1.

"I'm not focused on what I'm going to miss about Timberline," Cross said, "but more on what's ahead of me at Saint Martin's."

Said Hayes: "He'll do well at the collegiate level."