Jonah Franco led the Kamiakin High School boys cross country team to a third-place finish at the Class 3A state championship Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course, the sixth consecutive podium appearance for the Braves at the state meet.
Franco’s fourth-place finish (15 minutes, 48.5 seconds) wasn’t enough to vault Kamiakin over Interlake for second, as the Braves were looking for their fifth consecutive runner-up placement.
The junior had designs of contending for the individual state title, but said his race expectations were more heavily weighted toward the team’s goals.
“I’m happy I got fourth, but really, it’s all about team,” said Franco, who placed 16th at the state meet last year. “Team is always before individual, so if I could choose to get first for my team or first for myself, it would be team every day.”
Sophomore Ryan Child made the most of his second state appearance for the Braves, turning in a 16:07 for a 12th-place finish. Even with two medalists in the field, injury and illness late in the season kept Kamiakin from advancing further up the leaderboard.
Although Kamiakin (153 points) and Interlake (139) had strong performances in the tough racing conditions — foggy and cold in the morning, then clear and warm in the afternoon — no team had a chance of stopping North Central (61) on its way to a state-record 11th consecutive team championship.
“Us and North Central are like really good teammates; we’re different teams, but it’s almost like we’re the same team,” Franco said. “We really get along very well, and we’ve been going for state like head-to-head almost every single year.”
Junior Jacob Christner led the Indians with a third-place finish (15:48.5), but the story of the day for North Central was its depth as all five scoring runners finished in the top 30.
Sophomore Johan Correa — Kennewick’s first runner at the state meet since 2002 and first in the boys race since 1997 — was brilliant in his first state championship race. He finished the first mile in 10th and held steady against some of Washington’s fastest to finish in that same 10th spot (16:03.4).
“I feel proud of myself, and a little tired too,” Correa said. “I feel happy to get to race against these fast people. So yeah, I’m proud.”
Southridge’s Keanu Daos took 70th (16:55.8) and Antonio Garcilazo finished 105th (17:19.6).
The younger Correa sibling, Geraldin, turned heads in the gallery when she crossed the 1-mile marker in 10th.
However, that early pace proved to be unsustainable, as she crossed the finish line in 26th with a time of 19:33.6.
For the freshman, the meet proved to be a great learning experience.
“I could feel that I was getting tired at about the 800 (meters to go) spot,” Correa said. “So I started pushing myself when everyone was screaming to me, and that got me stronger, and I was able to beat some people. And from there I never stopped running.”
Kamiakin’s Brooke Moon finished 93rd (20:27.0) and Mirannda Shulman took 108th (20:36.6).
Holy Names Academy’s Jordan Oakes defended her state title by running a 17:44 to lead the Cougars to a team championship. The senior is committed to run for Stanford next year. ... On a day when most runners were struggling just to match their times from a year ago, Lincoln’s James Mwaura dropped nearly six seconds off his 2015 time by posting a 15:32.9 to run away with the boys 3A race. Mwaura finished eighth last year.
At Sun Willows GC, Pasco
Team scores: 1, North Central 61; 2, Interlake 139; 3, Kamiakin 153; 4, Edmonds-Woodway 161.
Top finishers: 1, James Mwaura (Lincoln) 15:32.9; 2, Hayden Dressel (Mt. Spokane) 15:43.5; 3, Jacob Christner 15:46.6.
Kamiakin: 4, Jonah Franco 15:48.5; 12, Ryan Child 16:07.0; 39, Kyler Lee 16:35.0; 82, Andrew Holladay 17:06.3; 92, Traven Bills 17:11.7; 110, Porter Grigg 17:24.8; 125, Levi Orren 17:39.7.
Kennewick: 10, Johan Correa 16:03.4.
Southridge: 70, Keanu Daos 16:55.8; 105, Antonio Garcilazo 17:19.6.
Team scores: 1, Holy Names Academy 53; 2, Edmonds-Woodway 104; 3, Shorecrest 136; 4, Redmond 160.
Top finishers: 1, Jordan Oakes (HNA) 17:44.0; 2, Sophia Cantine (Lakeside (Seattle)) 18:06.1; 3, Camila David-Smith (Interlake) 18:07.2.
Kennewick: 26, Geraldin Correa 19:33.6.
Kamiakin: 93, Brooke Moon 20:27.0; 108, Mirannda Shulman 20:36.6.