ARLINGTON - The Sehome and Bellingham girls' teams had Cascade Conference schools and two KingCo schools to deal with during the Class 2A District cross country meet, but additional adversaries hardly seemed relevant as Mariners and Red Raiders filled up the finish line's staging area one by one.
Sehome and Bellingham captured 11 of the top 20 spots during the windy state-meet prelude late Saturday morning, Nov. 2, at Lakewood High School.
Headlining the top finishers were Sehome's Ruby Watson and Emily Pittis, who placed second and third, respectively. Ellie Rowan-Arnett finished behind Pittis, and Jessa Clark gave the Mariners their fourth top-10 placer with her ninth-place time. But nobody could catch Burlington-Edison's RaynJoy Norton, who won the race with a time of 18 minutes, 15.27 seconds.
"We did so good," Watson said. "By the time we got to the (timing) chip place, everyone was already in. It was really cool."
Pittis, who saw a Sehome runner finish nearly every time she looked up after her run, almost got caught holding up the line.
"They always yell at me to keep moving (in line), but I can't help it because I don't want to miss anyone finishing. Dana (Ringler) had a fabulous finish, and if I would have missed that I would have been so upset."
The Mariners' top finishes earned them a dominating team win, scoring 30 points. Bellingham, which had two finishers within the top 12, took second with 69 points, and Burlington-Edison's 95 points was strong enough for third place. Each of the top three teams automatically qualified their seven varsity runners for the state meet Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
Watson finished with a 18:37.71, Pittis ran a 18:42.20, Rowan-Arnett ran a 19:03.71 and Clark ran a 19:41.96. Aili Emory finished 15th with a 20:03.71, Ringler was 17th with a 20:09.82 and Rebekah Oviatt finished 19th with a 20:11.30.
"It was really amazing," said Clark of seeing all her teammates finish so strong. "I've been running with this team for a while, and it's so great to see so many people out in front and working together and really showing what we can do."
The Red Raiders added prestige to the city of Bellingham during districts.
Leah Veldhuisen finished 10th overall with a 19:42.39, and freshman Madeline Prentiss took 12th with a 19:48.31. Maya Norton finished 16th with a run of 20:07.65 and Abby Walker rounded out Bellingham's top-20 finishers with her 18th-place finish in 20:09.97.
All of Bellingham's varsity runners will attend next weekend's state meet, but it will be the first time heading to Pasco for Prentiss, who was surprised with her strong run.
"Today I ran a lot faster than I thought I would," she said. "I placed a lot better on the team than I thought I would. I stayed with Leah - the top girl from Bellingham - and just hung on to her."
Norton, a Red Raiders senior, said her team has run well in packs all season. They employed that strategy once again, and it worked in their favor.
"I was proud of our girls, because we worked really well together as a team," Norton said. "For one thing, we wanted to race together, because we do that very well. Also, we wanted to use what the course gives us. We focused a lot before hand on how to run it, and we carried it out.
Both city schools expect to race well at state, but given Sehome's pedigree and top times this season, they are the presumed team-title favorites.
But if Watson or Pittis want to win an individual title, they'll have their hands full with RaynJoy Norton, who won Saturday by more than 22 seconds. Still, Pittis could have run harder and was stocking energy for state, she said.
"It's just another qualifier for state, which is our main thing," said last year's state champ. "I mean, we go a little harder at districts. I kind of went for it, but then I held it back at the end again."
No other Whatcom County runner finished inside the top 35 besides Sehome or Bellingham athletes.
Lynden's Grace Sauter led the Lions with a 40th-place time of 21:18.89. Squalicum's Rachel Phipps was the Storm's top finisher. She ran a 21:57.63, which was good for 46th place.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Lakewood High School
Team scores: 1. Sehome 30; 2. Bellingham 69; 3. Burlington-Edison 95; 4. Cedarcrest 102; 5. Lakewood 135; 6. Lake Washington 148; 7. Anacortes 207; 8. Sedro-Woolley 209; 9. Squalicum 231; 10. Lynden 279; 11. Granite Falls 348 (Top three advance to state)
Top individual finishers: 1. RaynJoy Norton (Burlington-Edison) 18:15.27; 2. Ruby Watson (Sehome) 18:37.71; 3. Emily Pittis (Sehome) 18:42.20; 4. Ellie Rowan-Arnett (Sehome) 19:03.71; 5. Katia Matora (Lake Washington) 19:19.64; Olivia Waterman (Cedarcrest) 19:26.85; 7. Pascale De Sa E Silva (Sammamish) 19:35.82; 8. Stephanie Schlimmer (Sedro-Woolley) 19:38.18; 9. Jessa Clark (Sehome) 19:41.96; 10. Leah Veldhuisen (Bellingham) 19:42.39
Bellingham: Leah Veldhuisen 19:42.39; Madeline Prentiss 19:48.31; Maya Norton 20:07.65; Abby Walker 20:09.97; Julia Latimer 20:22.46; Nicole Burbank 20:25.86; Sarah Rubin 21:12.44.
Lynden: Grace Sauter 21:18.89; Frances Sauter 22:39.45; Alex Schulhauser 23:09.95; Cynthia Anker 25:17.32; Morgan Nims 25:35.41; Danika Miedema 26:52.27.
Sehome: Ruby Watson 18:37.31; Emily Pittis 18:42.20; Ellie Rowan-Arnett 19:03.71; Jessa Clark 19:41.96; Aili Emory 20:03.71; Dana Ringler 20:09.82; Rebekah Oviatt 20:11.30.
Squalicum: Rachel Phipps 21:57.63; Christina Lilleston 21:59.70; Sydney Arndorfer 22:25.98; Hailey Linville 22:34.93; Justine Johnson 2:53.86; Kristin Smith 23:02.46; Tara Knight 23:49.99.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.