High School Sports

A disappointing finish at state couldn’t squelch his impressive season, or his sportsmanship

Bellingham’s Cade Brown smiles as he nears the finish line on his way to a first-place finish at the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships on Oct. 20 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham.
Bellingham’s Cade Brown smiles as he nears the finish line on his way to a first-place finish at the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships on Oct. 20 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

Bellingham cross country coach Bill McClement is quick to take the blame for Cade Brown finishing 31st at the Class 2A State Championships last month, one year after placing eighth on the same course.

“That one’s on me,” McClement said. “He listened to his coach, and his coach had him go out too fast. I deserve the blame.”

Not so fast, coach.

“I don’t blame him,” Brown said. “We both came up with the plan together, and it just didn’t work.”

Pretty mature for a high school junior, but would you expect anything less from a runner who shakes the hand of every competitor he races, no matter whether he finishes first or ... well, 31st?

Brown’s finish at state was an aberration. He finished among the top four every other time he toed the line for the Red Raiders in 2016, including wins at the Northwest Conference Championships and the Class 2A bi-district meet. For that reason, Brown has been selected The Bellingham Herald’s All-Whatcom County Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“We feel very fortunate and privileged to work with Cade,” McClement said. “He arrives at every workout to invest himself in it emotionally, intellectually and physically. He is a role model to all his teammates about how to be consistent and deal with things that are mundane in training.”

And he’s a picture of good sportsmanship.

After the state disappointment in Pasco, Brown didn’t sulk or storm to the team tent. He did the same thing he’s done since his first race as a freshman – shake every competitor’s hand he possibly could and congratulate them on a good race.

“It’s just something in him,” McClement said. “He’s done it since beginning of his ninth-grade year, regardless of where he finishes. That’s just great sportsmanship.”

To Brown, it’s a matter of respect.

“I didn’t want to stop it just because I had a bad day,” Brown said. “I needed to keep that tradition alive. I respect everyone out there. It’s an accomplishment to make it to state.”

But have no doubt, Brown wasn’t satisfied with just making it to state. He plans to use this year’s disappointment as a springboard for next year.

“It’s a growth experience,” Brown said. “With the state meet, I just learned in the hardest form that you can’t underestimate the meet or the caliber of runners there. ... There’s always room to grow. I’m just glad I have one year of cross country left. We only graduate one senior, so we’ll have a strong guys team coming in. My goal was to win at state. It didn’t turn out that way, so now I go back and try to do it next year.”

All-Whatcom County Boys Cross Country Runners of the Year

2005: Jake Riley, Sehome

2006: Jake Riley, Sehome

2007: Mason McHenry, Sehome

2008: Clinton Overman, Sehome

2009: Scott Carlyle, Sehome

2010: Scott Carlyle, Sehome

2011: Patrick Gibson, Squalicum

2012: Patrick Gibson, Squalicum

2013: Chris Fredlund, Squalicum

2014: Kirby Overman, Sehome

2015: Colton Johnsen, Sehome

2016: Cade Brown, Bellingham

2016 All-Whatcom County Boys Cross Country first team

Runner

School

Yr.

Kenny Barnes

Meridian

Jr.

Finished ninth at the Class 1A State Championships with a time of 16:29.4. Also was seventh at the 1A bi-district meet in 17:06.6 and 12th at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:58. Helped Meridian finish seventh at state.

Brooks DeWaard

Lynden Christian

Jr.

Finished seventh at the Class 1A State Championships with a time of 16:24.5. Also was second at the 1A bi-district meet in 16:54.7.

Logan Franey

Sehome

Sr.

Finished 23rd at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 16:36.3. Also was eighth at the 2A bi-district meet in 16:54.4 and fourth at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:16. Helped Sehome win a fifth straight 2A state title.

Tate Hutchins

Lynden

So.

Finished 25th at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 16:37. Also was 11th at the 2A bi-district meet in 17:00.7 and 27th at the Northwest Conference Championships in 17:28.

Bryce Johnson

Sehome

Sr.

Finished 14th at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 16:27.1. Also was sixth at the 2A bi-district meet in 16:51.7 and fifth at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:18. Helped Sehome win a fifth straight 2A state title.

Drake Kirby

Sehome

Jr.

Finished 32nd at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 16:48.1. Also was 25th at the 2A bi-district meet in 17:38.7 and 11th at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:56. Helped Sehome win a fifth straight 2A state title.

Tadeusz Pforte

Sehome

Jr.

Finished 41st at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 16:59.8. Also was 21st at the 2A bi-district meet in 17:30 and 13th at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:59. Helped Sehome win a fifth straight 2A state title.

Jackson Slesk

Sehome

Sr.

Finished 35th at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 16:50.7. Also was 14th at the 2A bi-district meet in 17:09.2 and seventh at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:37. Helped Sehome win a fifth straight 2A state title.

Reed Smith

Sehome

So.

Finished 24th at the Class 2A State Championships with a time of 16:36.5. Also was 10th at the 2A bi-district meet in 16:59.4 and sixth at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:28. Helped Sehome win a fifth straight 2A state title.

Eric Steiger

Lynden Christian

Jr.

Finished 14th at the Class 1A State Championships with a time of 16:34.9. Also was fourth at the 1A bi-district meet in 16:57.1 and third at the Northwest Conference Championships in 16:01.

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