— The Fifth Annual Sehome Cross Country Invite offered Whatcom County’s top senior runners a final chance to compete in a cherished race that’s become an early-season tradition for area schools.
But leave it to a pair of freshman to bring home the county’s lone individual titles.
Thirty-six teams and 1,333 athletes made for a talent-rich field Saturday, Sept. 13, at Civic Stadium. Races were run by class standing, and by the end of the first two varsity races, Bellingham already had produced two winners.
Both Red Raiders boys’ freshman runner Cade Brown and freshman girls’ runner Quincy Gale gave Bellingham an exciting glimpse of what’s to come with strong individual performances. Brown earned a commanding win, finishing the 2-mile course in 10 minutes, 52 seconds, which was 26 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
He certainly lived up to the Flash Gordon T-shirt he was donning post race.
“For the first race of high school, real race, it is nice to have a win,” Brown said. “It makes me feel really good about this season, and we have a great group of guys here, and they are just going to keep getting stronger with the years to come. I think we are going to be great.”
And as for his T-Shirt: “I bought this before school, because, yes, I do like to run, so he has become one of my favorite superheroes.”
Gale’s race was much closer, as she had to fight to hold off Monroe runner-up Sydnee Hanson. Gale finished the race with a 12:57. Hanson ran a 12:58.
“Coming up to the last stretch I was pretty nervous, and we were going back and forth,” Gale said, “but when I crossed the finish line it was exciting. I couldn’t really believe that I won, because I’ve never really won anything before, so it was cool.”
While individual champions were sparse, the defending Class 2A state champion Sehome girls’ team proved it again will be a force this season. The Mariners won the Invite with 35 points, Glacier Peak finished second with 67 points and Inglemoor took third with 81 points.
Six Sehome runners — senior Emily Pittis, junior Aili Emory, sophomores Maya Smith, Abby Johnson and Tatiana Langley and freshman Emma Hageman — finished top-10 in their respective classes.
Two-time state champion Pittis, who ran an 11:54, placed second in the senior run, giving the Mariners their top finisher.
“It would have been nice to win for my last (Sehome Invite), but I don’t think I was focused on that entirely, like I have to do this, so I just wanted to make it a positive last invite, and I think it was,” Pittis said.
Emory placed seventh, Smith took sixth, Johnson was seventh, Langley finished eighth and Hageland also placed eighth.
Outside of Pittis, Lynden Christian’s Sarah Ball was the next top girls’ finisher. The junior Lync placed fourth in her race with a 13:00 run.
“I think it went really well,” Ball said. “I was hurting at the end, but I kicked and it was great. It was great for one of my first races.”
Other top-10 girls’ placers were Bellingham’s Leah Veldhuisen (eighth) and Zoe Thompson (eighth).
The defending Class 2A state champion Sehome boys’ team couldn’t make the Sehome Invite a Mariners sweep. They settled for fourth place, as Glacier Peak won with 41 points, Inglemoor took second with 66 points and Snohomish placed third with 80 points.
That’s not to say Sehome didn’t have plenty of strong performances.
Kirby Overman, Sam Gillman and Bryce Johnson each finished in the top 10 of their respective races. Overman’s seventh-place finish was the best of the group.
“My legs are a little tired, but I just wanted to practice getting out, getting my position and just kind of run from there,” said Gillman, who placed eighth in the junior race with a 10:39. “I ran as hard as I could, and I felt like my training has progressed to how I think I did today.”
Finishing just one spot ahead of Gillman was Ferndale standout Roberto Aguilera. The Golden Eagles junior put together an exceptional race, taking seventh with a 10:32.
“I felt really tired, but I think I got a PR, so I should celebrate that,” said Aguilera, who beat his personal best by 15 seconds.
Sehome Invite at Civic Stadium
Sehome Invite at Civic Stadium