Kamiakin boys, girls finish second at state cross country championships

November 3, 2012 

— The Kamiakin Braves didn’t win any titles at Saturday’s Washington State Cross Country Championships. They simply had the greatest day in the program’s history.

The Kamiakin boys and girls each finished on the second step of the Class 3A championship podium at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

Megan Beauchene led the girls with a fourth-place individual finish as the Braves outscored third-place Peninsula by one point, 141-142.

Glacier Peak easily won with 66 points, but the next three spots were decided by five points.

“It’s what we hoped for at the very beginning,” girls coach Shaun Suss said. “Sure, we wanted to go after Glacier, but second was where we really wanted to be. “We’re real pleased as a program.”

The boys squad excelled as it has all season. The scoring pack placed from 10th to 25th, led by Austin Oser and Ahmed Ibrahim (11th).

The Braves’ 75 points was a championship-caliber score, but for the uber-pack finish by North Central. The Indians, missing their No. 1 runner, still placed all five scorers in the top 14 and all seven in the top 19 for a 38-point performance and their seventh consecutive title.

“I’ve been a part of every state team (for Kamiakin) since I was a freshman, and this is great,” Oser said. “We worked hard all summer for this.

“Kamiakin cross country is great. We all worked hard. The girls worked hard.”

The boys’ trophy comes on the heels of last season’s third-place finish, while the girls were coming off back-to-back fourth-place finishes.

For the girls, this trophy tops the third-place hardware the Braves won in 2003, a mark senior Michelle Fletcher and her teammates had shot for the last three years.

After finishing seventh and 11th the last two seasons, Fletcher placed 12th in 19 minutes, 8.5 seconds.

“This year in races, I’ve gone out slow, trying a new strategy,” said Fletcher, the school’s first four-time state runner. “But in this race, you have to go out fast, and I was not ready for how that feels. It sent a shock.”

Beauchene was ready for the pace, settling in behind the leaders — Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak, Katie Knight of North Central and Katie Bianchini of GP.

The Kamiakin junior finished in 18:19.7, well off Neale’s course record of 17:03.6 but safe from any threats from behind.

“My goal always was to get fifth,” said Beauchene, who played soccer last year but came out for cross country after a strong track season.

“I had high expectations. This is my first year of cross country, but I had running experience.”

After the first six runners finished in 10-second gaps, the pack came flowing in, heavily populated with Peninsula and Prairie runners. But Kamiakin sophomore Emily Moon put on a big kick at the end to finish 31st and make up some valuable points.

“Emily stepped up huge,” Suss said. “She passed so many at the end, including two Peninsula kids. That really is the key to the race. But when you win by one point, everyone was big.”

Brittany Brooks (59th) and Gleyder Vargas (84th) capped the scoring for the Braves.

The Kamiakin boys had a little more breathing room, with third-place Nathan Hale finishing 16 points back.

Still, Ibrahim said, the emphasis always is on picking off runners and picking up points.

“When I see different colors, I try to support the team and push it,” he said.

After Oser and Ibrahim finished 10-11, Andrew Snyder was 21st, Garrett Kraal 22nd and Christian Rodriguez 25th.

“I’m proud of them,” coach Matt Rexus said. “We told them at the beginning of the season, there is no way no one is thinking about us this season, not after losing (state champion) Anthony Armstrong and six of our top 10 from last season.

“But we said, ‘You can do something about this.’ ”

Double-negative aside, the Braves really didn’t sneak up on anyone this season, ranked second or third since the first state poll came out.

Still, sticking five in the top 25 was a big day, especially considering junior Keegan McCormick, one of their top runners, has been sidelined with appendicitis.

That just meant the younger kids had to step in and grow up in a hurry.

“They’re really good, and we expect to see that,” said Rodriguez, a senior who reflected on how much the program has grown.

“I remember being a freshman and being really amazed seeing how fast the team was. And each year, we’ve gotten better and better.”

w Kevin Anthony: 582-1403; kanthony@tricityherald.com

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