PASCO — North Kitsap High School was proud to send a pair of cross country runners, Jim Robson and Michael Chuol, to the state competition last weekend in Pasco.
Unfortunately, only one of the runners made it to the starting line.
While Jim Robson ran the race and finished 80th, competitor Michael Chuol did not start the race due to miscommunication between him and his coaches.
“Ultimately, it was our fault,” said head coach Helen Smith, referring to herself and the other coach.
Smith and the rest of the coaches and runners are always careful when communicating with Chuol, who is a refugee from Africa and is still learning English. This time, however, there was miscommunication, and with over 1,000 runners, Smith couldn’t find him in time.
“He couldn’t find us,” she said, “and we couldn’t find him.”
Chuol is only classified as a junior, Smith said — so he will get another shot at state, both in track and on next year’s cross country team.
Robson ran the 3K course in 17 minutes even, finishing among the rest of the Narrows League pack.
The event was run at Sun Willows Golf Course.
“The course was quite challenging,” Smith said. “It’s a golf course, and there was a lot of rolling and no flat spots. It kind of beats you up.”
A lot of Narrows League runners had some trouble with the course, Smith said, but teams from the other side of the mountains, which are often stocked with elite runners, did quite well.
“It’s overwhelming to see all the talent,” said Smith, noting that the top school, Mead, had five runners finish ahead of Robson, who was not only North Kitsap’s best runners but one of the top cross country competitors in the league.
With this season over, Smith and the rest of the team is setting high expectations for next year.
Seeing the elite teams at Pasco, Smith said, only made her set those goals higher.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” she said. “But that’s the way it is. You can’t hide from it.”