Carmichael Hill is back, and in a big way.
The redrawn cross country course at Carmichael Middle School drew rave reviews and grudging respect for its steep climbs from runners at Saturday’s 44th annual Richland Invitational.
“I really like the course, really like the changes they made,” said North Central senior Katie Knight, who won the girls race for the third time in four years.
“I like how the downhill is really steep,” she said, motioning to the previous long slope along Lee Boulevard. “That’s an 800-meter (runner’s) hill.”
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Indeed, whereas the previous course took runners up and down Carmichael Hill on a long grade or angled across the slope, this new setup has runners tackling the climb head on ... twice.
That climb claimed at least one runner among the elite fields, with a girl collapsing at the crest, though she was able to walk it off after several minutes on the ground.
“It’s definitely tough with those two big hills,” said Kamiakin junior Megan Beauchene, who finished fifth behind Richland sophomore Lindsey Bradley. “The first time up, I thought it wasn’t bad, but the second time was 10 times harder.”
Whereas the steep hill is back, North Central seems to always have been. The Indians claimed their sixth straight Richland boys team title, and Kai Wilmot joined Knight as individual champions from the Spokane powerhouse.
The Kamiakin boys finished second despite not having a single runner in the top 15. However, the Braves’ spread of less than 30 seconds among their five scoring runners was easily the tightest, leaving them with 122 points, 10 fewer than Nathan Hale but still double NC’s winning total.
Camas won the girls team race with just 51 points, though Richland made the Papermakers earn it, finishing with 73 points as four Bombers placed in the top 20. Kamiakin placed fourth (144) and Hermiston fifth (168).
The boys race stayed tight as the runners topped the first climb a mile in, run at a 5-minute pace. Half a mile later, Wilmot and Seattle Prep’s Joe Hardy had opened a small lead over three pursuers, including Hermiston’s Alejandro Cisneros. But as they finished the second climb, Wilmot and Hardy had the course to themselves for the final mile.
Wilmot went into his kick with about 600 meters to go and didn’t relent until crossing the finish line in 14 minutes, 44.73 seconds, a strong run for 3 miles.
“I don’t necessarily have a super-fast kick, and the only way to compensate for that is to have a longer kick,” Wilmot said, adding that he waited too long to take off two weeks ago at the Bob Firman Invite and Boise, and Hardy hauled in him at the end.
Hardy came in 3 seconds later, still 24 seconds ahead of the field. Cisneros (eighth), Eduardo Juarez (10th) and Jose Macias (13th) gave Hermiston a good start, but the Bulldogs fell off from there and finished eighth.
Kamiakin’s Ahmed Ibrahim (16th) and Keegan McCormick (18th) were the only other local boys in the top 20, though the Braves’ Garrett Kraal was 21st.
The girls event was a match race almost from the start. Knight and Camas sophomore Alexa Efraimson lost the pack early, though Mt. Rainier’s Jordan McPhee — the defending 4A state champion — fell off the pace slower than the rest.
The front-runners were stride-for-stride until Knight opened a lead on the final descent that kept growing until she crossed the finish in 17:16.53.
Efraimson finished 6 seconds back. Though she placed second to Knight — the defending 3A state champion — she clearly established herself as the odds-on favorite for 4A state title.
“She’s an amazing competitor,” said Knight, who has narrowed her college choices to Colorado, Stanford and Washington. “Last year was her freshman year, so I was excited to see how she would run cross country this year.”
McPhee, who won last year when Knight skipped the event, finished third in 18:02.23 and almost 20 seconds behind Efraimson. She was followed by Bradley (18:17.00) and Beauchene (18:41.94). Hermiston’s Maggie Coleman and Richland’s Lauren Perry rounded out the top 10, with Kamiakin’s Michelle Fletcher (13th), Richland’s Sidney Bullock (17th) and Kinzie Icayan (19th), and Hermiston’s Katie Markwick (20th) in the top 20.
Bradley, who finished third last year against a lighter field, is on a tear this year, coming off a ninth-place finish at Nike Pre-Nationals last week. That after a disappointing ending to a strong freshman campaign when she finished 35th at state.
“Not doing very good in state last year, that’s making me motivated this year,” she said.
At Carmichael MS (3 miles)
Team scores—North Central 61, Kamiakin 122, Nathan Hale 132, Central Valley 154, Seattle Prep 163, Lewis & Clark 180, Mt. Spokane 199, Hermiston 210, Camas 230, Kamiak 243, University 272, Deer Park 307, Shadle Park 368, Richland 406, Wenatchee 411, Cheney 426, Moses Lake 508, Auburn-Riverside 513, Tri-Cities Prep 553, Marysville-Getchell 616.
Top 10—Kai Wilmot (NC) 14:44.73; Joe Hardy (SeaP) 14:67.61; Sumner Goodwin (LC) 15:11.81; John Dressel (MtSp) 15:17.54; 5, Tanner Anderson (NC) 15:17.90; 6, Andrew Foerder (NtHl) 15:23.66; Keith Williams (NC) 15:27.47; Alejandro Cisneros (Herm) 15:35.33; Nicholas Hauger (Shdl) 15:40.05; Eduardo Juarez (Herm) 15:41.04. Hermiston—8, Cisneros; 10, Juarez; 13, Jose Macias 15:49.27; 79, Efrain Jaime 16:59.49; 112, Nathan Sanders 17:38.42. Kamiakin—16, Ahmed Ibrahim 15:51.03; 18, Keegan McCormick 15:55.39; 21, Garrett Kraal 16:02.49; 30, Austin Oser 16:09.95; 38, Daniel Sanchez 16:20.26. Richland—24, Michael Williams 16:03.69; 65, Ryan Francis 16:43.71; 104, Dennis McDuffie 17:29.68; 111, Jonah Sandoval 17:36.96; 127, John Crandall 17:51.51. Hanford—31, Jeevan Philip 16:10.32; 109, Hao Zhai 17:34.68; 138, Steven Lutz 18:10.42; 147, Will Eldred 18:38.95. Kennewick—64, Joseph Schuldheisz 16:43.33. Tri-Cities Prep—100, Kelly Smith 17:24.93; 102, Sam Leon 17:25.71; 114, Joseph Ghirardo 17:41.92; 133, John Hylden 17:54.97; 140, Will Bryan 18:15.02. Waitsburg-Prescott—52, Seth Deal 16:29.79. Girls
Team scores—Camas 51, Richland 73, Central Valley 124, Kamiakin 144, Hermiston 168, Mt. Spokane 178, University 208, Shadle Park 216, Auburn Riverside 252, North Central 252.
Top 10—Katie Knight (NC) 17:16.53; Alexa Efraimson (Cam) 17:22.87; Jordan McPhee (MtRn) 18:02.23; Lindsey Bradley (Rich) 18:17.00; Megan Beauchene (Kam) 18:41.94; Alissa Pudlitzke (Cam) 18:41.94; Maddie Woodson (Cam) 18:54.25; Sierra Speiker (Oro) 18:54.98; Maggie Coleman (Herm) 19:00.21; Lauren Perry (Rich) 19:03.96. Richland—4, Bradley; 10, Perry; 17, Sidney Bullock 19:43.63; 19, Kinzie Icayan 19:48.18; 34, Samantha Bagley 20:21.46. Kamiakin—5, Beauchene; 13, Michelle Fletcher 19:26.44; 35, Emily Moon 20:23.61; 45, Brittany Brooks 20:42.33; 59, Jori Perrins 21:08.00. Hermiston—9, Coleman; 20, Katie Markwick 19:55.29; 46, Zoey Garcia 20:43.00; 51, Kylie Markwick 20:54.64; 57, Brenda Ortiz 21:06.98. Chiawana—52, Samantha Cowan 20:56.33. Kennewick—114, Melissa Schmitz 23:05.35. Southridge—23, Leslie Olsen 19:58.01; 68, Jamie Callahan 21:16.69; 81, Michaela McCune 21:37.86; 91, Annie Samuelson 21:50.31; 95, Alissa Huff 22:06.69.