For the second straight year, Bellingham did all it could possibly do to prove that there is more than one powerful girls' cross country team inside the city limits.
And for the second straight year, the Red Raiders proved their point by finishing second to city rival Sehome at the Class 2A State Championships on Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
"We scored 88 points," senior Maya Norton said in a phone interview. "That's the lowest score a Bellingham girls' team has ever scored, so we're ecstatic right now."
And so the Red Raiders should be.
Not many teams can say they earned top-two finishes two years in a row.
"I feel really blessed to walk away knowing we gave it our all," senior Nicole Burbank said in a phone interview. "We prepared this season as a team to come here and race our hearts out for each other. I'm proud of the girls being able to come away from here with great finishes the last two years. It's a great feeling."
Leah Veldhuisen led the way for the Red Raiders, just missing the podium with her 17th-place finish in 19 minutes, 41.27 seconds.
A pack of three runners that included Abby Walker (24th, 19:50.75), Norton (28th, 19:55.84) and Madeline Prentiss (29th, 19:56.14) followed closely behind.
"I think the key was we stayed connected racing together," Burbank said. "We had really good pack running. We all prepped for the race, and all seven us wrote mental notes on our hands for us to stay connected and stay awake. I think that a key was sticking together as pack."
Julia Latimer rounded out the Red Raiders' scoring runners in 44th place, while Burbank was 53rd and Sarah Rubin was 88th.
"We really put our hearts into this race," Norton said. "At the end, we're all really tired. From what I heard and what I saw, every girl, from first to seventh, gave it their all. ... It is absolutely amazing. I couldn't have asked for anything more. This experience is definitely the highlight. I couldn't have been varsity and run on this team without the help of my wonderful coaches and wonderful teammates."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Pl. Runner School Yr. Time
2. Emily Pittis Sehome Jr. 18:12.64
3. Ellie Rowan-Arnett Sehome Fr. 18:32.00
6. Ruby Watson Sehome Fr. 18:47.26
16. Jessa Clark Sehome Jr. 19:37.87
17. Leah Veldhuisen Bellingham Jr. 19:41.27
23. Aili Emory Sehome So. 19:50.75
24. Abby Walker Bellingham Jr. 19:50.91
28. Maya Norton Bellingham Sr. 19:55.84
29. Madeline Prentiss Bellingham Fr. 19:56.14
35. Rebekah Oviatt Sehome So. 20:06.43
37. Dana Ringler Sehome So. 20:09.34
44. Julia Latimer Bellingham Jr. 20:15.43
53. Nicole Burbank Bellingham Sr. 20:26.81
88. Sarah Rubin Bellingham Sr. 21:04.91
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.