SEQUIM — Plenty of Kitsap County runners will be making the trip down to Chambers Creek on Oct. 28 after a successful league season was capped with four boys teams and three girls teams qualifying for the meet at the Olympic League championships.
Every school in the Kitsap Daily News coverage area qualified at least one team or individual runner for the district meet in Pierce County on Saturday.
Individually, two local standouts, Klahowya’s Lucas Becker and North Kitsap’s Madison Zosa, were also crowned with individual titles for winning their respective races.
On the boys side, it was Klahowya besting eight other schools to win the league championship. Becker captured the headlines with his first place time of 16:41.69, but excellent races by freshmen Alex Oathout and Jaeden Ellis, both of whom finished in the top ten, and juniors Samuel Cook and Tanyr Gagnon, who placed inside the top 15, rounded out the supporting cast that topped second place Sequim by 15 points.
“We had talked to the team before the league meet, we thought they had a good chance to win it,” said Klahowya head coach Marty Krafcik. “It was pretty awesome, it’s the first time we’ve won the Olympic League title. Going way back, I know we won when we were part of the Nisqually League. But I believe this is the first one in the Olympic League, so that’s pretty special.”
The boys from Kingston had hoped for a better showing — the Bucs boys finished fourth amongst 2A schools and sixth overall — but an unfortunate turn of events cost them several places in the standings.
Stefans Lusis, Kingston’s top runner, expected to contend with Becker for the top of the podium, and he was leading the race with a half-mile to go. But then he became ill and began vomiting and had to drop out, said Kingston head coach Lee Willson.
Picking up the slack was senior Dorian Issa, one of a contingent of soccer players along with Adin Bowers and Henry Estrada-Gold that has boosted the depth of the Kingston boys team. Issa finished fourth in the race with a time of 17:16.21.
“The team qualified to go on, so he still gets to run,” said Willson of Lusis, who will return for the district meet. “If we hadn’t been in the top four, the team would not have gone on, that would have been the end of his season.”
The North Kitsap boys were led by a third place finish from sophomore Max Metters, who clocked in at 17:15.72. Behind him was senior David Blalock (10th, 17:38.84), senior Matthew Hyter (16th, 17:50.29), sophomore Igmin Martinez (18th, 17:53.93) and freshman Luke Hensley (22nd, 17:57.85). They finished second among 2A schools and third overall.
A young, upcoming Olympic program will send its boys team to districts as well. Senior Josh Combs turned in a strong seventh place performance that helped the Trojans into the final qualifying spot. Freshman Tayden Toledo (33rd, 18:26.31) and junior Andrew Padilla (40th, 19:00.03) also jumped into the top 40 for Olympic.
While the Bremerton boys team did not qualify, the Knights will still send three runners to districts from a program that is currently rebuilding — sophomore Spencer Anderson, senior Lawrence Green and junior Jeriah Smith. All three ran well at the Olympic League meet, but Bremerton head coach Chris Mutchler thinks Anderson in particular could qualify for the state meet in November.
“He has to get close to 17 minutes, but I think he can do it, I sure hope he does,” said Mutchler.
In the girls race, North Kitsap freshman Madison Zosa turned in another virtuoso performance, winning by a full 29 seconds over Lauren Larson of Port Angeles. Zosa’s time of 19:18.70 was not even a personal best for this year. She finished the Nike Hole in the Wall race in under 19 minutes. The North Kitsap girls finished third in the 2A classification and fourth overall.
While Port Angeles was the championship meet’s winner, Kingston’s strong showing buoyed coach Willson’s expectations that the girls team will make it to the state meet this year.
Finishing in second place, Kingston received top ten finishes from senior Holly Rouse (5th, 20:42.45) and junior Claire Larson (7th, 21:01.67). Junior Bridget McMahon finished 15th with a time of 22:02.68 and sophomore teammate Montana Thoroughman was just behind her in 17th place at 22:12.98.
“I think the girls are real strong,” said Willson. “They have been running well and I am fully expecting them to go to states as the team. It’ll be a nice accomplishment for them.”
Klahowya freshman Rachel Newhard turned in one of her best times of the year, 20:01.71, which was good enough for third place. Teammates Hannah Meehan and Savannah Smith finished 11th and 12th, less than three seconds apart at 21:43.74 ad 21:46.28 respectively.
“She’s a special runner,” said Krafcik of his talented freshman. “As she gains some confidence and maturity in racing, she’ll learn she can run at the front of the pack and be more aggressive. But overall, she’s been amazing. She’s really helped the team.”
A rebuilding Olympic program did not see its girls team qualify, but the Trojans will be well represented at Chambers Creek as three individuals will race. Senior Ciarra Swift was Olympic’s top runner with a time of 23:49.08. Joining her at districts are Lauren Peck (44th, 24:38.97) and Olivia McFall (45th, 24:39.48).
“They did good, I think they did about what I was expecting,” said Olympic head coach Travis Quinn of his boys and girls teams. “There was a lot of growth from everyone, and I have a lot of young kids on the team, so the future is promising.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.