Like most standout cross country runners, Bellingham High School junior Cade Brown likes to run – a lot.
He started competing in cross country as a seventh-grader after tiring of lacrosse. It wasn’t a surprising choice, considering his parents competed in high school and college cross country and encouraged him to try the sport.
He instantly fell in love.
“It was one of the easier sports to pick up,” Brown said. “It helped that there was a really good team atmosphere and it’s a great community of people that like to socialize. Even though Sehome is our rival, I’m still friends with some of those runners because of how great the running community is in Bellingham.”
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Brown has had a successful high school cross country career through two-plus seasons.
Last year as a sophomore, he placed eighth at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 15 minutes, 57.3 seconds. Earlier this season, he won his third straight Sehome Invitational race against fellow juniors, holding up three fingers to commemorate the event as he crossed the finish line.
“The Sehome Invite is unique,” Brown said. “To compete against your class, rather than all of the runners, is always cool. That was definitely a goal of mine to win that a third straight time.”
But Brown has set some even loftier goals: He wants to finish in the top three this year at the state championships, and he wants to qualify for the Nike BorderClash and the Foot Locker West Regional races. Bellingham coach Bill McClement believes Brown can do it.
“Whatcom County has been historically strong when it comes to cross country runners,” McClement said. “We believe that Cade is becoming one of the top names associated with Whatcom County in 20 or so years.”
To qualify for the Nike Border Clash, Brown must turn in one of the 40 fastest times among all classifications at the state meet.
As impressive as Brown is racing, McClement said his personality is what makes him such a great runner. McClement called him a great teammate to be around and said he likes to dance, tell jokes and just hang out with his teammates like a regular teenager.
“He’s created a culture around this team that makes everyone better,” McClement said. “He interacts with every teammate, from JV to varsity, and every teammate is comfortable talking to him at any time.”
Brown’s sincerity has spread not only to his teammates but his opponents.
Last year after he won the sophomore race at the Sehome Invitational, he shook every runner’s hand as they crossed the finish line, from second to last place. In another race, he lapped several runners but every time gave them a shout of encouragement.
As inclusive as he is, McClement said Brown also is a hard worker who is extremely competitive.
“He comes to practice ready every day,” McClement said. “He’s consistent in workouts, has a wonderful work ethic and is extremely organized. He also takes responsibility for his actions and never projects on anyone else.”
Brown said his drive is what makes him so competitive and determined to become better.