After three straight second-place finishes at the Class 2A Championships, the Bellingham girls’ cross country team doesn’t begrudge their counterparts from across town at Sehome. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
“Being second to Sehome, we know how hard they work,” Bellingham senior Leah Veldhuisen said in a phone interview. “We know they deserve it.”
But the Red Raiders deserve their credit, too, especially after they scored yet another second-place finish on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Thanks to having all five scoring runners place in the top 35, Bellingham finished right behind the Mariners for a third straight year, 50-85.
“The past three years, we’ve finished second at state,” senior Abby Walker said. “That’s quite an accomplishment. It’s been pretty fun. Definitely a lot of it is due to the great community we live in and the great coach that we have.”
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Veldhuisen led the Red Raiders’ charge, placing seventh with a time of 19 minutes, 14.23 seconds.
The run was particularly rewarding for her, considering she finished just off the podium in 17th as a junior.
“I’m really, really happy,” she said. “My goal coming in was to get on the podium (top 16), and it was a stretch goal to make it in the top 10. I was very happy with my race — I think everyone on our team should be happy with how they ran today.”
Veldhuisen credited freshman Quincy Gale for working with her in the race and pushing her to the strong finish.
Gale also turned in an impressive run in her debut at state, placing on the podium in 15th in 19:21.00.
Walker (19:41.98) wasn’t far behind in 26th, followed by Madeline Prentiss (19:50.64) in 30th and Julia Latimer (20:00.82) in 35th.
The key to the Red Raiders’ run on Saturday was simple.
“We talked about making a series of positive decisions during the race,” Latimer said. “I think everyone made the right decisions at the right times today.”
That’s something they’ve been doing for the last three years, and even in 2011, when Bellingham placed fourth.
“This means a ton to us to finish second again,” Latimer said. “To know that we’re one of the best teams in the state is incredible. There is so much competition, even within our hometown, but we’ve proven that we’re one of the best.”
Squalicum’s Grace Oswin, who was competing as an individual, finished 41st in 20:08.17, while Blaine’s Hillary Kiele finished 58th in 20:23.89.
On the boys’ side, Bellingham’s Cade Brown finished 40th in 16:28.97, Squalicum’s Chais Sugden was 52nd in 16:47.34 and Blaine’s Parker Morris came in 59th in 16:54.93.