Meridian senior Collin Magnusson and Nooksack Valley junior Amy Jo Murphy continued to make cross country names for themselves in the 40th annual Mount Baker Invitational.
Magnusson, last year’s runner-up, chalked up another goal while continuing his steady improvement as one of the state’s top Class 1A distance runners.
The personable Trojan impressively broke 16 minutes with his course-best of 15 minutes, 59.03 seconds on the challenging 2.97-mile Silver Lake Park double-hill course on Saturday, Sept. 27, while beating one of the state’s biggest young middle-distance names in track and field.
Lake Stevens sophomore Noah Wallace — who finished a remarkable fourth as a freshman last spring in the Class 4A state 800 meters — claimed second place at Silver Lake in 16:24.48 for the top non-senior time.
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Murphy — bolstered by excited shouts of “Amy Jo!” from her Nooksack teammates and friends — was thrilled to take the first cross country victory of her career while winning the girls’ race in 19:34.93 over runner-up Mimi Meggison of Meridian, also a junior.
In Murphy’s case, she literally made a bigger name for herself, using the victory to take the opportunity to explain the name she really goes by, regardless of what rosters and entry lists say.
“It’s definitely Amy Jo,” she said with the same big smile she ran with pretty much throughout the race while obviously having the fun she always seeks in the sport.
Magnusson called it “really cool” to win at Silver Lake Park, since it was his fourth year in the race.
“The Meridian cross country team is like a second family for me,” he said, proud to have led the 1A Trojans to second place in the 13-school meet behind Class 4A Lake Stevens and equally proud to have heard cheers he called “just blarin’’ as he rounded a corner toward the fans.
“I am surprised to have won by such a big margin,” said Magnusson, who hopes to give several other big names of the Northwest Conference — who weren’t there Saturday — a run for the league title. “I went out maybe a little faster than I wanted to, but I felt good all the way.”
Magnusson, along with all the runners, was grateful to have one of the most beautiful days possible for the meet, especially considering last year’s heavy rain and mud.
Wallace and Lake Stevens sophomore teammate Trevor Allen, who was third in 16:28.41, will give Ferndale junior Roberto Aguilera a mental push, the Golden Eagles’ leader said.
“I was happy all the way through,” said Aguilera, who finished a strong fourth in 16:37.34, a personal best for the course. “Next year, those two (Lake Stevens standouts) will push my game a little more.”
Wallace, who takes pride in holding the Washington state record for freshmen in the 800 meters, praised Magnusson for his win.
“He was a strong competitor,” Wallace said of the Meridian senior.
Murphy, who was fourth in last year’s girls’ race, said she is always more concerned with improving her times than where she places in any meet. Still, taking a cross country victory at last was sweet indeed.
“More motivation, I guess,” she said when asked what gave her the boost she needed. “God and my coaches, Collin Buckley and Jay Sloane. But the main thing is I just wanted to have fun. That’s always what I really want, to have fun.”
Murphy said she hung back for a while until taking the lead for good at the top of the first of the two challenging hills.
Meggison called the meet “a learning lesson” for her, saying she went out too fast.
“I’m always my worst critic,” said Meggison, a devoted runner who has had to cope with several injuries in recent years. “I learned not to go out that fast so early and to really push on the hills.”
Murphy impressed coach Kevin Ryan of defending champion Sehome.
“Amy Jo is one of the great stories in local running,” said Ryan, who used his junior varsity in both varsity races because Sehome came off major meets in the past two weeks and faces major meets in the next two weeks. “You can see it on her face. She’s just out here enjoying it. You can just see that enjoyment.”
Buckley couldn’t have agreed more, after he and Sloane did a celebratory dance in the grass over Murphy’s first win.
“She’s a bundle of energy and just loving it,” Buckley said of Murphy, who gave the coach his first girls’ champion at Silver Lake in 11 years of coaching, first at Mount Baker and now in his fourth year at Meridian.
Boys’ runner-up Meridian had two other Top 10 finishers in eighth-place Derek Morrow (17:06.59) and tenth-place Derek Holz (17:24.42), a sophomore. Squalicum’s Chais Sugden placed seventh in 17:04.57.
Meridian’s boys had 60 points behind Lake Stevens’ 25. Third place went to Lynden Christian (142), followed by Ferndale (144) and Nooksack Valley (173). Sehome was seventh, Blaine eighth, Baker ninth and Squalicum 11th.
In the girls’ race, junior Sarah Ball (20:23.75) claimed third to lead Lynden Christian to second place with 78 points behind Lake Stevens’ 57. Meggison and sixth-place sophomore Dena Andrushenko (20:52.24) led Meridian to third with 79 points.
Ferndale finished fourth, paced by fifth-place Angie Rooth (20:49.17) and seventh-place Jillian Anderson (20:52.28). Other local top 10 placers were fourth-place Hillary Kiele (20:37.27) of Blaine and eighth-place Natalie Smith (20:55.83) of Mount Baker as Whatcom County runners swept the first eight places.
Squalicum’s girls took fifth, Sehome’s junior varsity finished seventh in the varsity race, and Nooksack Valley was eighth.
On Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 1:09 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
|Name:||0928 Baker Invite XC|
|Requested by:||Rasbach, David|
|Assignment start:||09-27-2014 12:00 PM|
|Assignment end:||09-27-2014 02:00 PM|
|Instructions:||Coverage of the Mount Baker Invitational cross country meet. Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Lynden Christian, Meriidian, Nooksack Valley, Sehome, Squalicum and Mount Baker are expected to participate.|
|Deadline:||09-27-2014 06:00 PM|
|Event time:||09-27-2014 12:00 PM|
|Event location:||Silver Lake park. Varsity boys at 12:15 p.m., Varsity girls at 1 p.m.|
|Name:||0928 Baker Invite XC|
|Summary:||Coverage of the Mount Baker Invitational cross country meet.|