ARLINGTON - Sehome sophomore Emily Pittis admits she didn't used to be a big fan on running in the rain.
"It used to bother me," Pittis said. "But I realize I live up here in the Northwest - it's going to rain, so I just have to get used to it."
To help her do so, Pittis said she and her cross country teammates have taken to keeping their warm clothes on as long as they can before the start of a race, and making sure to bundle up as soon as they finish.
"I really don't mind it anymore," Pittis said. "I actually like running through mud puddles."
Of course, it's a whole lot more fun when you win, no matter the conditions, and that's exactly what Pittis and her teammates did on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Class 2A District 1/2 Cross Country Championships at Lakewood High School.
Pittis won going away with a time of 18 minutes, 37.7 seconds to lead the Mariners to a district title with 28 points and a berth in next week's Class 2A State Championships in Pasco.
Squalicum's Brittany Gappa, who was returning after missing last week's Northwest Conference Championships with illness, held off a serious challenge from Burlington-Edison's RaynJoy Norton to finish second in 18:58.8. Sehome freshman Rebekah Oviatt (19:21.0) and Zanna Sullivan (19:31.7) rounded out the top five.
Like Sehome, Bellingham used some strong pack running to place second with 74 points and earn a trip to state.
"We've gotten a lot better at running together this year," said Bekah Jensen, who was the Red Raiders' top finisher in ninth with a time of 19:50.3. "We run together a lot, and we've all gotten faster together. We may not have a strong front runner who's going to run some crazy amazing times. But we're going to run a smart race for us, and the split between our first and fifth runner is not going to be that big, and that gets us on to state."
All seven Bellingham runners finished within 55.1 seconds of Jensen, as Maya Norton finished 18th, Leah Veldhuisen 19th, Nicole Burbank 21st, Katie Walker 22nd, Abby Walker 25th and Clara Prentiss 29th.
"We didn't want to go out too fast today," Jensen said. "I think we did a good job of running a smart race and finishing strong."
But nobody finished stronger than Sehome, which actually sat out its fifth-fastest runner so far this season, Dana Ringler, in an effort to give another runner a chance to run and earn a spot on next week's state roster. They still had six runners finish in the top 15.
Joining Pittis, Oviatt and Sullivan in the top 15 were teammates Kate Hannah (eighth), Jessa Clark (13th) and Abby Cybula (15th).
"I thought Zanna ran especially well, and Kate had a great run, which is really important for her," Pittis said. "So many girls ran so well."
That included Pittis, who won a district title for the first time in what has already been an impressive career for the Mariners.
She and RaynJoy Norton were neck and neck near the completion of the first lap around the athletic complex.
"I made a break a little earlier than I expected," Pittis said. "I saw my coach coming around the end of the first lap, and he told me to go for it. I felt good, so I made a push on that little downhill (coming back into the stadium the second time)."
Gappa's finish helped Squalicum place sixth as a team. Claire Scott was the Storm's next finisher in 41st.
Lynden placed 10th and was led by Katherine Smith's 60th-place finish.
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
CLASS 2A GIRLS ON TO STATE
Nicole Burbank* Bellingham
Jessa Clark* Sehome
Abby Cybula* Sehome
Brittany Gappa Squalicum
Kate Hannah* Sehome
Sarah Huffman* Sehome
Bekah Jensen* Bellingham
Maya Norton* Bellingham
Rekekah Oviatt* Sehome
Emily Pittis* Sehome
Clara Prentiss* Bellingham
Zanna Sullivan* Sehome
Leah Veldhuisen* Bellingham
Abby Walker* Bellingham
Katie Walker* Bellingham
*Team lineups may change for state.
CLASS 2A DISTRICT 1/2 CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Lakewood High School
Team scores: 1. Sehome 28, 2. Bellingham 74, 3. Cedarcrest 79, 4. Burlington-Edison 80, 5. Lakewood 126, 6. Squalicum 162, 7. Lake Washington 193, 8. Sedro-Woolley 243, 9. Anacortes 262, 10. Lynden 292, 11.
Top individual finishers: 1. Emily Pittis (Sehome) 18:37.7; 2. Brittany Gappa (Squalicum) 18:58.8, 3. RaynJoy Norton (Burlington-Edison) 18:59.0; 4. Rebekah Oviatt (Sehome) 19:21.0, 5. Zanna Sullivan (Sehome) 19:31.7, 6. Pascale De Sa E Silva (Sammamish) 19:37.8, 7. Olivia Waterman (Cedarcrest) 19:38.7, 8. Kate Hannah (Sehome) 19:48.6, 9. Bekah Jensen (Bellingham) 19:50.3, 10. Amelia Anderson (Cedarcrest) 19:50.4.
Sehome: 1. Emily Pittis 18:37.7, 4. Rebekah Oviatt 19:21.0, 5. Zanna Sullivan 19:31.7, 8. Kate Hannah 19:48.6, 13. Jessa Clark 19:55.4, 15. Abby Cybula 20:04.3, 31. Sarah Huffman 20:48.4.
Bellingham: 9. Bekah Jensen 19:50.3, 18. Maya Norton 20:13.4, 19. Leah Veldhuisen 20:13.5, 21. Nicole Burbank 20:17.3, 22. Katie Walker 20:17.6, 25. Abby Walker 20:23.3, 29. Clara Prentiss 20:45.5.
Squalicum: 2. Brittany Gappa 18:58.8, 41. Claire Scott 21:46.5, 41. Kristin Smith 21:53.2, 45. Justine Johnson 22:12.2, 46. Rachel Phipps 22:14.4, 47. Tara Knight 22:18.1.
Lynden: 60. Katherine Smith 23:36.3, 68. Michelle Navis 24:21.2, 69. Kendra Hack 24:59.3, 72. Cynthia Anker 25:46.5, 74. Anna Roebuck 26:44.8, 75. Morgan Nims 27:21.2.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.