High School Sports

Tri-Cities Prep, Kamiakin shine at state cross country meet (w/ galleries)

PASCO -- There was a time when Tri-City teams were regulars on the state cross country podiums, with their runners standing tall on the top step.

Saturday's state cross country meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco brought those glory days back to life with a team championship, two more trophies, an individual crown and plenty of top finishes to go around.

Tri-Cities Prep repeated as the 2B/1B boys champion, easily holding off Northwest Christian of Lacey 56-89.

Seniors Nick Lumetta (fourth in 16 minutes, 37 seconds) and Skyler Larson (sixth, 16:42) led the charge, with Nick Fong (17th), Adam Noorani (22nd) and Kelly Smith (27th) rounding out the scoring.

"We went out there and did what we had to do," Lumetta said.

The Jaguars so dominated the field, their Nos. 6 and 7 nonscoring runners (John Hylden, 28th; Joseph Ghirardo, 41st) finished ahead of all but one No. 4 runner, and Hylden would have been the top runner for six of the 16 teams.

"It feels great," Larson said. "All season long, it's what we were going for. We really stressed being close as a group, and that's what did it today."

But no one shone brighter than Anthony Armstrong, whose thrilling kick in the 3A boys race not only reeled in a pair of runners in his way, but the Tri-Cities' first 3A or 4A individual title since Brandi McCoy won for Richland in 2000, and the first boys title since Hanford's Adam Tenforde in 1998.

Armstrong, running with an aching foot and a week removed from a sinus infection, trailed Izaic Yorks of Lakes and defending champ Nathan Weitz of Shadle Park for most of the race. With 800 meters left in the 5-kilometer race, he made his final push.

"I started my kick, and I was going to catch Isaac," said Armstrong, who finished third last year. "And when I catch him, I see Nathan, and I was like, 'Oh, crap, I forgot all about Nathan.' And he has got a kick."

On this day, though, it wasn't enough to hold off Armstrong, who passed him in the final 25 meters and set a course record of 14 minutes, 58.4 seconds. Weitz finished less than a second back.

With his individual title in hand, Armstrong then watched his teammates bring home a third-place finish. Sophomore Keegan McCormick finished 21st, Austin Richards 26th, Taylor Kraal 27th and Austin Oser 34th. No. 6 runner Garrett Kraal was 37th.

"We ran awesome," Kamiakin coach Matt Rexus told his boys after the race. It was the first state trophy in Rexus' 24 seasons and the first for a Tri-City 3A or 4A boys team since Richland placed third in 1995.

After finishing two points behind North Central at last week's regional, the Braves had hopes of dethroning the five-time defending champs.

No such luck, as the Indians easily outpaced the pack with 59 points. Seattle Prep edged Kamiakin for second, 80-81.

"That second mile, I was just pushing and pushing, trying to catch North Central's No. 2," McCormick said. "It just didn't happen.

"They knew what was on the line, and they took it."

The Kamiakin girls took back-to-back titles, repeating last year's fourth-place finish. Stephanie Rexus led the way with a fourth-place finish in a fast 3A girls race.

"That may be the best race I ever had," said the senior who finished eighth last year but sliced more than 37 seconds off her time. "I felt like it was a little fast, but then all the people around me were slowing down."

Junior teammate Michelle Fletcher, who finished 11th, also felt the swift pace.

"It played to my strategy well," she said. "I might have been a little excited -- it was a little fast."

The Braves lost sight of third-place Peninsula, but freshman Natalie Cory (57th), senior Sydney Blaser (62nd) and sophomore Brittany Brooks (75th) separated themselves from Prairie's final scoring runners to create a three-point edge for the final trophy spot.

"Only the third trophy we've ever had," said Kamiakin girls coach Shaun Suss. "Back-to-back is nice."

Southridge's Rachel Dahl earned a podium finish, placing 12th in 18:57.7. Freshman teammate Emily Kump was 56th.

In the 4A races, Walla Walla senior JP Wolpert finished 14th in 15:37.9.

"That's fine," said Wolpert, who placed 13th last year but was nearly 16 seconds faster this year. "It was fast. I didn't expect there to be so many guys up there."

In the girls race, Wa-Hi junior Rachel Nelson placed 34th in 19:19.0, one spot ahead of Richland freshman Lindsey Bradley (19:19.3). Bombers sophomore Lauren Perry was 49th (19:32.3), followed by Walla Walla sophomore Hannah Hampson in 54th (19:35.6).

Prosser junior Kolby Childers finished 38th (19:56) in the 2A girls race, a big jump after placing 98th and 81st in two previous trips. On the boys side, Mustangs junior Bradley Buttars was 77th (17:12.6).

Kiona-Benton senior Adrian Castellanos placed 24th in the 1A boys race in 17:02, with teammates Leo Alvarez finishing 74th (17:49) and Kyle Brightman 78th (17:57). Sophomore Marcos Quiroz was 31st (17:09) to pace a Royal team that finished 12th.

The Tri-Cities Prep girls just missed the podium in the 2B/1B ranks in their first visit to state as a squad. Sophomore Victoria Nunez was 16th (20:54) to lead the way.

On the boys side, Waitsburg-Prescott junior Seth Deal, considered among the favorites for the race, finished 16th in 17:08. Teammate E.J. Meserve was 58th (18:41).