ARLINGTON - Squalicum boys' cross country runners Chris Fredlund and Nick Gallaher collected more than top-three finishes during the Class 2A District cross country meet. They also contracted a layer of course mud to their uniforms thanks to a torrential down-pour of rain that started 30 minutes before their race.
The duo didn't let the adverse conditions affect them, though they were quickly forced to switch race strategy.
"It kind of changed the mind of how the race was going to go," said Gallaher, with pieces of mud dotting his face. "I thought today everybody was going to go straight under 16 (minutes), but it changed a little bit. I wanted to go out strong and finish in the top five, and it worked pretty well."
Fredlund and Gallaher had no problem conceding first place to Lake Washington's Devon Grove after he built a big lead during the first 1,000 meters.
The Squalicum pair put together a great final kick, especially Gallaher, to solidify their placing, as Fredlund took second in 16 minutes, 2.66 seconds and Gallaher finished third with a 16:05.59. Grove's 15.55.23 won the race.
Lakewood's Douglas Davis approached Gallaher's side from behind with 75 meters to go, but the Storm runner bolted for the finish line once he realized his finish was in jeopardy.
"I saw him coming up and I thought, 'I got to take third. I can't let him pass,'" Gallaher said. "I run the 400 in track, and that speed kind of helps me get through the end of the race."
Sehome and Bellingham each placed runners in the top 10. Mariners' Kirby Overman finished sixth with a 16:36.48, and Red Raiders' Brian Chmelik took seventh with a 16:38.30.
Lakewood won the district title in a extremely close contest, in spite of all three schools running strong races. The Cascade Conference's Cougars recorded 68 points, Squalicum finished second with 73 and Sehome rounded out the top three with 74. Cedarcrest grabbed the final state spot, as the top four teams and 20 runners earned automatic berths to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 9, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
Squalicum recorded five top-25 runners. Besides Fredlund and Gallaher, Chais Sugden finished 20th in a time of 17:07.15, Dylan Tomberlin was 23rd with a 17:11.21 and Jared Radtke finished one spot behind him with a 17:12:40.
Six of Sehome's runners finished within the top 25. Riley Allsop placed 13th with a time of 16:57.99, Colton Johnsen was 14th with a 17:03.40, Ben Stalheim was 19th with a 17:06.13, Noah Ringler took 22nd with his 17:09.52 and Nathan LeTavec finished 25th with a 17:12.44.
Overman was pleased with his team's finish but was hoping for a better result himself. The poor conditions certainly didn't help.
"It throws you off a little bit, especially on some of the turns, because it's muddy and slick, but you try to push through the cold as much as you can." said a shivering Overman, while trying to warm up wrapped in a flannel in the grandstands. "I would have liked to be up there a bit more, but next week is the important one. That's what I'm going for."
Allsop, who struggled during last week's conference championships, felt the opposite about his race.
"It was a lot of fun," said Allsop of the rain. "I mean, we're Mariners. This is what we're use to. You just push through it. ... Last week kind of stunk. I didn't have a good race, but this week I was stronger. I'm just recovering from a cold. I was out of school Wednesday and Thursday."
Bellingham earned a seventh-place team finish, but Chmelik's time was strong enough to send him to state. He was the only Red Raider to crack the top 20 and will be going to Pasco alone, but the senior said he's excited to run a course more suited to his style.
"I think it was a good finish," he said. "It was really rough conditions, but it was a strong race, and I'm happy with my performance. That finish doesn't really suit my racing style, so I'm looking forward to (state)."
Thomas Swineford posted Lynden's top finish. The senior finished 33rd with a 17:38.52.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
At Lakewood High School
Team scores: 1. Lakewood 68; 2. Squalicum 73; 3. Sehome 74; 4. Cedarcrest 100; 5. Lake Washington 111; 6. Anacortes 130; 7. Bellingham 155; 8. Burlington-Edison 229; Archbishop Murphy 272; 10. Granite Falls 285; 11. Sedro-Woolley 300; 12. Lynden 336. (Top four advance to state)
Top individual finishers: 1. Devon Grove (Lake Washington) 15:55.23; 2. Chris Fredlund (Squalicum) 16:02.66; 3. Nick Gallaher (Squalicum) 16:05.50; 4. Douglas Davis (Lakewood) 16:07.06; 5. Logan Orndorf (Cedarcrest) 16:32.38; 6. Kirby Overman (Sehome) 16:36.48; 7. Brian Chmelik (Bellingham) 16:38.30; 8. Mitchell Darrah (Lakewood) 16:40.14; 9. Drew Cabales (Lakewood) 16:44.40; 10. Dylan Holland (Anacortes) 16:45.09
Bellingham: Brian Chmelik 16:38.30; Simon Maguire 17:31.04; Sam Gillman 17:37.55; James Sayegh 17:52.28; Jacob Stahl 18:23.63; Aidan Glaze 18:45.08; Grant Rienstra 18:50.15.
Lynden: Thomas Swineford 17:38.52; Jacob Heeringa 19:08.68; Tyler Stokes 20:16.60; Aiden McCaig 20:28.23; Anthony Ricci 21.58.32; Caleb Sterk 22:31.87.
Sehome: Kirby Overman 16:36.48; Riley Allsop 16:57.99; Colton Johnsen 17:03.40; Ben Stalheim 17:06.13; Noah Ringler 17:09.52; Nathan LeTavec 17:12.44; Zane Markosian 17:43.49.
Squalicum: Chris Fredlund 16:02.66; Nick Gallaher 16:05.59; Chais Sugden 17:07.15; Dylan Tomberlin 17:11.21; Jared Radtke 17:12.40; Dillon Rinauro 17:42.08; Wyatt Laviqueune 18:40.43.