High School Sports

A turned ankle may turn their fortunes at state, but this team still expecting a big day

Meridian’s Kenny Barnes (300) battles for position during the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships Oct. 19 in Bellingham.
Meridian’s Kenny Barnes (300) battles for position during the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships Oct. 19 in Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

For the first month and a half of the fall season, the Meridian boys cross country team looked poised to accomplish something it had never done before.

They had five strong runners at the top of their lineup, and it looked like almost nothing would get in the way of the Trojans claiming the first state championship in the program’s history.

But during the week leading up to the Northwest Conference Championships, coach Mike Holz said junior Jenson Ellars – the team’s No. 5 runner – “tweaked” an ankle.

“It’s too bad,” Holz said. “Jenson had been having a real good season for us.”

Despite that setback don’t count the Trojans out, yet. There’s still plenty of talent on this team, as evidenced by the team placing four runners in the top 11 at the Class 1A Bi-District Championships Saturday at South Whidbey, where the Trojans out pointed Northwest 71-85 to claim the bi-district title.

Holz said he believes it’s too early to count the Trojans out of competing for the 1A state title Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

“I’m pretty excited about the possibility,” Holz said. “I don’t want to say we’re going to win, but we’ve got as good a shot as anybody. ... We need our fifth guy to be a little healthier or someone else to step up, but we definitely have a shot.”

The reasons for Holz’s optimism are easy to figure out – senior Kenny Barnes and juniors Abbas Theophilus, Jaskaran Dhatt and Nathan Schneider.

Barnes, obviously, has been the leader of the group, but he said this group hasn’t required all that much leadership.

I think all of them have a chance to run to the podium, individually.

Meridian cross country coach Mike Holz

“It’s weird being a senior,” he said. “We’re all pretty mature. It’s not like I have to be a parental figure for the team.”

But he has led the way on the course a number of times, including Saturday at the bi-district meet, when he finished third in 16 minutes, 50.03 seconds. Theophilus wasn’t far behind in fifth (17:00.80), with Dhatt in seventh (17;10.41) and Schnedider 11th (17:39.57).

Senior Henry Skaggs was Meridian’s fifth scoring runner, as he placed 45th in 18:53.03, while sophomore David Wallace was 56th in 19:16.06. On the sore ankle, Ellars finished 80th in 20:40.36.

With so much top-end talent, Holz said he’s seen his team pushing each other to get better. This summer, he said the juniors were actually running faster that Barnes, but all that did was inspire Barnes to work harder and get faster.

“I’m just a competitive person,” Barnes said. “It’s really exciting to me to have four guys that can push me to get better.”

I don’t want to say we’re going to win, but we’ve got as good a shot as anybody.

Meridian cross country coach Mike Holz

If they can continue to push each other, Saturday could be pretty special for the Trojans.

“All of us just have to push as hard as we can and run our best race,” said Barnes, who finished on the podium last year at state with his ninth-place finish.

With the talent Meridian has, there’s a good chance he won’t be the only one celebrating on the podium Saturday, even if the Trojans don’t win a state title.

“I think all of them have a chance to run to the podium, individually,” Holz said. “If they run strong, it’s not outlandish. Kenny’s been there before and the other guys could be right there with him. The have a good chance to have a very special day Saturday.”

Whatcom County state qualifiers

Class 3A girls

Runner

School

Time

Jaclyn Denham

Ferndale

20:10:00

Class 2A girls

Runner

School

Time

Annika Reiss*

Bellingham

18:23.38

Rosie Kirker*

Sehome

19:52.05

Grace Much*

Bellingham

20:16.83

Livi Lackland Henry*

Bellingham

20:17.35

Emma Hageman*

Sehome

20:17.64

Aspen Allsop*

Sehome

20:33.95

Emma Berreth*

Sehome

20:45.67

Kate Giesen*

Bellingham

21:06.36

Scout Ormsby*

Bellingham

21:07.09

Jamie Good

Blaine

21:15.60

Zoe Thompson*

Bellingham

21:16.59

Claire Campbell*

Bellingham

21:21.27

Isabelle Douglas*

Sehome

21:53.73

Aine Dillon*

Sehome

21:55.67

Jonquil Loeffelholz*

Sehome

23:31.58

Class 2A boys

Runner

School

Time

Cade Brown*

Bellingham

15:55.26

Reed Smith*

Sehome

16:35.33

Tate Hutchins

Lynden

16:51.06

Lucas Cunningham*

Sehome

16:58.69

Jacob Alexander*

Sehome

17:00.31

Ty Veldhuisen*

Bellingham

17:01.34

Roscoe Perry

Lynden

17:02.94

Isaiah Ellis

Lynden

17:13.86

Tadeusz Pforte*

Sehome

17:16.44

Timothy Crabtree*

Bellingham

17:22.68

Jack Miller*

Sehome

17:24.22

Drew McFall*

Bellingham

17:24.84

Caleb Schmotzer*

Bellingham

17:29.86

Roman Schroyer*

Sehome

17:38.34

Max Horne*

Sehome

17:40.18

Jensen Kintzele*

Bellingham

17:46.08

John Johnson*

Bellingham

18:10.75

Class 1A girls

Runner

School

Time

Alyce Harlan

Nooksack Valley

19:12.32

Brooke DeBeeld

Nooksack Valley

20:49.78

Kendyl Otter*

Meridian

21:06.97

Lily Snow

Nooksack Valley

21:12.51

Ashlee VanDenTop*

Meridian

21:20.68

Juliette Haggith

Mount Baker

21:39.74

Kali Cook

Mount Baker

21:46.69

Emily Schneider*

Meridian

21:53.36

Rubi Stuit*

Meridian

22:01.44

Kayley Betancourt*

Meridian

22:07.15

Makenna Holz*

Meridian

22:26.37

Allysa Brooks*

Meridian

24:37.33

Class 1A boys

Runner

School

Time

Eric Steiger*

Lynden Christian

16:39.03

Kenny Barnes*

Meridian

16:50.03

Abbas Theophilus*

Meridian

17:00.39

Brooks DeWaard*

Lynden Christian

17:00.80

Jaskaran Dhatt*

Meridian

17:10.41

Nathan Schneider*

Meridian

17:39.57

John DenHartog*

Lynden Christian

17:40.76

Arlin Holder

Nooksack Valley

17:48.56

Nate Snow

Nooksack Valley

17:51.27

Logan Clabaugh

Nooksack Valley

18:08.28

Thane Boersma*

Lynden Christian

18:31.64

Henry Skaggs*

Meridian

18:53.03

Shane Hamstra*

Lynden Christian

19:02.29

David Wallace*

Meridian

19:16.06

Levi Postma

Lynden Christian

19:16.36

Isaiah deRegt*

Lynden Christian

19:59.11

Jenson Ellars*

Meridian

20:40.36

*Qualified as a member of a team. Team rosters can be changed for state championships.

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