As the race winner, Sehome sophomore Emily Pittis had the best vantage point to watch the Mariners reclaim the Class 2A Girls' Cross Country state championship on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
"We screamed for such a long time after we finished," Pittis said in a phone interview. "Every time I saw one of my runners finish, I screamed and cried. It was such a great feeling knowing that we all came here and ran a great race."
Truth be told, Pittis didn't have much time in between each time she screamed and cried, as Sehome placed five runners among the top 17 finishers to blow away the field with 40 points. Bellingham was the closest pursuer with 118 points, beating out third-place Capital with 122.
The victory was extra special for the Mariners, after Cheney beat them by seven points in 2011 to end a string of five straight state titles, but with Saturday's win, that proved to be just a hiccup in what is now a string of six titles in seven years.
"I think all the girls put in so much work for this," said freshman Rebekah Oviatt, who placed ninth with a time of 19:22.5. "We were all running for the team. Even the girls who weren't running, we really wanted it for them. We love each other so much, and we work so hard for each other."
All you had to do was listen to Pittis' screams, which were soon joined by screams and tears from her teammates as they finished, to see how much it meant.
"I remember as I came through I heard a lot of screaming, and I saw this wave of green and gold," said junior Abby Cybula, who placed eighth in 19:32.8. "Everyone was just so excited. We are all so happy about this."
And there could be a lot of joy in the future for the Mariners, as well.
The Mariners will lose one senior - Kate Hannah (21st, 19:53.2) - to graduation off the seven runners they started on Saturday.
That means they'll return Pittis, Oviatt, Cybula, freshmen Dana Ringler (13th, 19:34.7) and Zanna Sullivan (19th, 19:47.3) and sophomore Jessa Clark (23rd, 19:55.2).
"I really don't know what to think about this right now," Ringler said in a phone interview. "I'm just a freshman, and this is all new to me. Everyone is so excited. ... We all love to run, and we run hard for each other. We all wrote each other's names on our hands so we would remember we weren't out there alone."
Not that teammates were ever that far away with all seven finishing in the top 23 and all seven under 20 minutes.
But if anybody knows anything about strong pack running it's Bellingham, who was led by Bekah Jensen's 22nd-place finish in 19:53.5.
"I looked behind me and it was just like a big fire truck of red coming up behind me," Jensen said in a phone interview. "I'm so proud of them all."
It was particularly impressive, considering the Red Raiders had to deal with some last-minute adversity, when sophomore Abby Walker, who was expected to be the Red Raiders' No. 5 runner on Saturday, got ill on Friday night.
As a last-minute substitution, older sister Hayley, who was an alternate runner for the team, stepped in and picked up Abby's spot.
Hayley ended up being Bellingham's sixth runner to finish in 65th place with a time of 20:53.3.
"We decided just a little before the race," Hayley said in a phone interview. "I felt bad for my sister, but we all decided to dedicate our race to her, and we thought about her during the race."
The Red Raiders ran in such a tight pack, they actually could have talked about her, if they'd liked.
Behind Jensen, Leah Veldhuisen (36th), Maya Norton (37th), Katie Walker (38th) and Nicole Burbank (42nd) all finished within nine seconds of each other.
"We've had to overcome a lot of obstacles this year, and it was no different this time with one of our runners getting sick the night before," Jensen said. "We pulled together and ran as a team, which is what we've been doing all year. We ran as a pack."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
WHATCOM COUNTY GIRLS' TEAM STATE CHAMPIONS
School Year Class
Mount Baker 1977 1A
Mount Baker 1978 1A
Mount Baker 1999 2A
Mount Baker 2000 2A
Mount Baker 2001 2A
Sehome 2002 3A
Squalicum 2003 3A
Squalicum 2004 3A
Sehome 2006 2A
Squalicum 2006 3A
Sehome 2007 2A
Sehome 2008 2A
Sehome 2009 2A
Sehome 2010 2A
Sehome 2012 2A
WHATCOM COUNTY RESULTS
Pl. Runner Yr. School Time
1. Emily Pittis So. Sehome 18:17.7
5. Brittany Gappa Sr. Squalicum 18:51.4
9. Rebekah Oviatt Fr. Sehome 19:22.5
11. Abby Cybula Jr. Sehome 19:32.8
13. Dana Ringler Fr. Sehome 19:34.7
19. Zanna Sullivan Fr. Sehome 19:47.3
21. Kate Hannah Sr. Sehome 19:53.2
22. Bekah Jensen Sr. Bellingham 19:53.5
23. Jessa Clark So. Sehome 19:55.2
36. Leah Veldhuisen So. Bellingham 20:09.3
37. Maya Norton Jr. Bellingham 20:10.7
38. Katie Walker Sr. Bellingham 20:14.1
42. Nicole Burbank Jr. Bellingham 20:18.8
65. Hayley Walker Sr. Bellingham 20:53.3
67. Clara Prentiss Jr. Bellingham 20:54.8
CLASS 2A STATE MEET
Team results: 1. Sehome 40, 2. Bellingham 118, 3. Captial 122, 4. North Kitsap 139, 5. Burlington-Edison 160, 6. Cedarcrest 183, 7. Yakima West Valley,199, 8. Kingston 246, 9. Ellensburg 261, 10. Deer Park 264, 11. Cheney 267, 12. Sumner 281, 13. Port Angeles 297. 14. Steilacoom 300, 15. Mark Morris 357, 16. Washougal 384.
Top individuals: 1. Emily Pittis (Sehome) 18:17.7; 2. Sanne Holland (Cheney) 18:30.1; 3. Brittany Aquino (Spakane East Valley) 18:36.6; 4. Reagan Colyer (North Kitsap) 18:45.1; 5. Brittany Gappa (Squalicum) 18:51.4; 6. McCall Skay (Spokane West Valley) 18:55.2; 7. RaynJoy Norton (Burlington-Edison) 18:56.9; 8. Kathleen Ramsey (North Kitsap) 19:12.5; 9. Rebekah Oviatt (Sehome) 19:22.5; 10. Lauren Pierson (Capital) 19:26.1.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.