YAKIMA — In one of the premier cross country meets in the Northwest, the Mid-Columbia turned in an elite performance Saturday at the Sunfair Invite at Franklin Park.
The Kamiakin boys finished fourth with 57 points, with Anthony Armstrong (seventh, elite flight), Evan Fiske (fourth, sixth flight) and Justin Yoke (fourth, fifth flight) leading the charge.
“I’ve always liked coming here, even though I’ve struggled at this invite,” said Yoke, who was injured last season and finished in the top 15 of the fourth flight as a sophomore.
The Richland girls finished fifth with 63 points, just three behind Boise. And Hanford’s Erin Hegarty finished 10th in the girls elite field. The junior had hoped for a better showing in a stacked field that featured four state champions, and was seventh heading into the last half-mile of the 3-mile race.
“I really wanted to come out and run a race I could be happy with,” said Hegarty, whose time of 18:48 was 30 seconds better than her 12th-place finish last year. “I’m disappointed.”
Annamarie Maag of Jesuit (Portland) won the race going away, her 17:39 time 16 seconds better than second-place Kinsey Gomez of Coeur d’Alene and seventh all-time at the meet.
Walla Walla freshman Rachel Nelson finished 17th in the elite race at 19:15, and Richland’s Lauren Dernbach was 24th at 19:31.
Henry Jackson of Mill Creek and Jesuit ran away with the boys and girls team titles, scoring 13 and 12 points, respectively. The nationally ranked programs won nine races between them.
Armstrong was pleased with his top-10 finish in 15:43 in the boys race, considering he’s been dealing with a bout of illness and he ran the last two miles with a stitch in his side.
“I could have gone a lot better if my side was not hurting,” said the sophomore, who finished 11th last year in the sixth flight.
Walla Walla’s Aaron Nelson was 13th in 16:04, with Southridge’s Kyle Sturdefant (29th, 16:36), Richland’s Stuart Kretzschmar (35th, 16:46) and Hanford’s Albert Rodriguez (38th, 17:12) also in the elite race.
In the sixth flight, Fiske was followed by Southridge’s Colby Cravens (16:17) in 10th and Wa-Hi’s JP Wolpert (16:24) in 13th. Other notable finishes include Southridge’s Addison Quam (seventh) in fourth flight; and Southridge’s Nathan Seiler (second), Kamiakin’s Charles Lisle (sixth) and Richland’s Nathan Schweiger (seventh) in the third flight.
On the girls side, Maggie Jones finished fourth in the sixth flight in 19:02.0, and combined with Katie Mahoney’s third in the fifth flight and Emily Hazen’s fifth in the fourth flight gave the Bombers a big boost.
Jones, used to running in the midst of Richland’s pack, said the format — one runner from each school per flight — was a tough adjustment.
“At first I was scared because I’m used to having everyone around me,” she said. “But it was a good experience for state.”
Kamiakin’s Stephanie Rexus was 11th in the sixth flight; Richland’s Ariel Townsend ninth in the third flight, and teammate Jocelyn Grindstaff was sixth in the second flight.