Nooksack Valley senior Alyce Harlan admits she had a hard time picturing herself as a state cross country champion.
Part of it, she said was motivation – prohibiting herself from looking ahead so that she could focus on working hard to be the best that she could be. But her coaches kept trying.
“It was about five or six weeks ago that we started to plant the seeds,” Nooksack Valley coach Jay Sloane said, “but she definitely had her doubts if she could win. I think some of it is going from a 20-minute runner to an 18-minute runner – it’s hard to see yourself as a champion.”
Well, Harlan better start getting used to the idea, because on Saturday she claimed the Class 1A state title with her time of 18 minutes, 6.9 seconds on the 5,000-meter course at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Northwest’s Macenna Hansen was second in 18:15.10.
Harlan becomes what Sloane said he believes is the first Pioneers girls runner to win an individual crown.
“It’s pretty cool,” Harlan said. “It’s nice to see the results of a lot of hard work as a senior. You have good races and bad races, but you don’t always see the results.”
Her work ethic is what has set Harlan apart, Sloane said.
“She has the desire and heart to be a great athlete,” he said. “Pure, natural athletic ability, that’s not her strong point, but she works hard to get the most out of everything she has.”
And she showed it again Saturday, working her way up from fourth place a mile into the race to third two miles in, before she broke away in the race’s final 200 meters, running “a really smart race,” according to Sloane. She said she realized early that she wanted to stay with the lead girls, as they were running the perfect pace for her.
“It was pretty crazy,” Harlan said. “I could hear my teammates as I was coming up the hill (to the finish line). They were cheering me on. It took quite a while for it to sink in all the way. I knew I had a shot, but I didn’t think much about it becoming a reality.”
Class 1A girls results