Maya Nichols races towards the finish line at a South Sound Conference league meet. She will be looking to build upon a stellar freshman season that saw her win league and district titles, finish ninth at state, and set a school record. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Maya Nichols races towards the finish line at a South Sound Conference league meet. She will be looking to build upon a stellar freshman season that saw her win league and district titles, finish ninth at state, and set a school record. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

XC record-holder Nichols looks to shave time off her personal best

SILVERDALE — It was a freshman year to remember for Central Kitsap’s Maya Nichols.

As a ninth grader, she burst on to the Washington cross country scene with a ninth place finish at the 3A state meet in Pasco, but that was just the icing on the cake to a successful season.

Nichols was dominant at the South Sound Conference league championships at Fort Steilacoom, posting a 19:06 time that placed her five seconds ahead of teammate Molly Fischer and a full minute faster than another teammate, Sophia Kohler. At the district meet at Chambers Bay, she beat out Emily Phelps by 1.2 seconds to capture another first place finish. Her time of 18:24.40 at state is a school record and left her just half a second short of a Top Five finish.

So, what does Nichols do for an encore as a sophomore?

“I want to, hopefully, get around where I was last year,” Nichols said after a recent league meet. “Some improvement from my PR (personal record). That’s my main goal, just to PR again.”

The cross country postseason will be here next week, and Nichols is trending in the right direction to defend her league and district crowns.

She and her teammates will take on the South Sound Conference on Thursday, Oct. 18 at Fort Steilacoom Park. The following Saturday, Oct. 27, is the Westside Classic, the West Central District 3 championships, at Chambers Bay. That all leads to the 3A state meet on Nov. 10 at Sunwillows Golf Course in Pasco.

Nichols dropped an 18:39.30 at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational on Oct. 6 after posting an 18:56.60 at the 20th annual Fort Steilacoom Invitational; both times were better than her league championship performance. She also won the North Thurston Ramrock 5K but was able to ease back on the throttle as her 20:18.60 was 26 seconds better than second place.

“My time at our meet at Fort Steilacoom was about the same as my time that I ran last year,” Nichols said. “So that gives me hope that I’ll be able to get back where I was.”

This year, she isn’t the only member of the Nichols family toeing the starting line for the Cougars. Her younger sister, Taylor, is enjoying a fine freshman year, breaking 20 minutes twice in the 5,000 meters, including a 19:38.50 at Hole in the Wall. Clearly, talent runs in the family.

But head coach Jeremy Duplissey, who has taken over the program this year from Chris Baldus, has been thoroughly impressed with Nichols’ work ethic both over the summer and during racing season.

“Success is no secret — she puts in the hard work, she’s dedicated,” Duplissey said. “There’s talent involved, but she works hard.”

— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

Maya Nichols races towards the finish line at a South Sound Conference league meet. She will be looking to build upon a stellar freshman season that saw her win league and district titles, finish ninth at state, and set a school record. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

Maya Nichols races towards the finish line at a South Sound Conference league meet. She will be looking to build upon a stellar freshman season that saw her win league and district titles, finish ninth at state, and set a school record. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)

More in Sports

Klahowya 106-pounder Kelton Gagnon beats White River’s Colton Reeves by technical fall in the third round of the HammerHead Invitational. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Photo Gallery: HammerHead Invitational, Day 1

The HammerHead Invitational is one of the signature events of the wrestling… Continue reading

Games at North Kitsap, Klahowya postponed Friday

High winds in western Washington were causing power outages and difficult travel conditions

Dietrich Meyer finished in first place in three events in his team’s league meet with North Kitsap. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Olympic triumphs over North Kitsap in league meet

The two teams swam a total of 18 state-qualifying times

Kitsap lands six on all-state volleyball teams

Kingston’s Ava McCabe was named a second-team all-state hitter

Kobe McMillian hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Humphrey, McMillian lead North Kitsap to victory over Port Angeles

POULSBO — Kobe McMillian picked the perfect time to come alive against… Continue reading

South Kitsap sophomore Xavier Eaglin went 4-0 at the Olympic Duals on Dec. 8. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
South Kitsap takes third at Olympic Duals

The tournament featured wrestling teams from five Kitsap high schools

Klahowya guard Gabriel Smith sets up the offense during his team’s league victory over Chimacum. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Klahowya splits varsity doubleheader with Chimacum

SILVERDALE — Expectations are high for the Klahowya boys basketball program this… Continue reading

<em>Junior guard Noelani Barreith led North Kitsap with 11 points against Black Hills in the team’s home opener.</em>
                                Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group
North Kitsap grinds through a tough early season schedule

POULSBO — The North Kitsap girls basketball team hasn’t shied away from… Continue reading

Kobe McMillian led North Kitsap with 22 points in his team’s 77-47 victory over Bremerton. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
North Kitsap cruises to victory in league opener

Juniors Kobe McMillian and Shaa Humphrey had 22 and 18 points respectively

Most Read