When the lead pack running the Class 1A State Championships went out fast, Nooksack Valley junior Amy Jo Murphy wasn’t fazed.
She stuck to the race plan coach Collin Buckley and she crafted, and the result was perfect execution and the top-five state finish Murphy was seeking.
“It was right to the script for her today,” Buckley said in a phone interview. “Once she hit 1,000 meters (remaining), she really had to make a big decision and go as hard as she could. She just pulled it out like a champ.”
Murphy successfully held off Lakeside’s Lindsey Jacobson during the final charge to the finish, earning herself a fourth-place finish in a time of 19 minutes, 9.51 seconds Saturday, Nov. 8, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
“It felt really good,” Murphy said of her finish in a phone interview. “It was a lot of fun, and I’m happy with what I got. I wanted to be top five, and I was, so I’m happy.”
Since Murphy first qualified for state as a freshman, she’s improved every year.
That first season she placed 45th, and last year Murphy took a major leap, finishing ninth with a time of 19:23.21. Buckley credited Murphy’s dedication and drive for her ability to improve each of the past three seasons.
“For Amy, it’s hard work,” the Nooksack Valley coach said. “She puts in the time, and she is one of those kids who is really a student of the sport. We give her certain workouts, and she responds every time.”
Murphy, the lone Nooksack Valley representative, constructed a brilliant individual race. She was the top 1A Whatcom County girls’ placer.
Team wise, only two teams in the state were better than Lynden Christian.
The Lyncs scored 120 points, good for a third-place finish, which was the team’s best placing in 27 years, LC coach Darren Postma said.
Junior runner Sarah Ball lead the Lyncs with her 18th-place finish in a time of 20:10.33. Brandy Bruneau (20:51.67), Brianna Bruneau (20:52.29) and Taylor Ten Pas (20:57.36) finished 36th, 37th and 38th, respectively, and McKenzie Young (21.09.34) was 47th.
“We really didn’t know how we were going to do going into it,” Ball said in a phone interview. “We were hoping to get a podium spot. We worked really hard, and it’s exciting. We just went out and ran our best.”
Lynden Christian coach Darren Postma said Brandy, Brianna, Ten Pas and Young were running around 60th place before gaining nearly 30 places the second half of the race.
“We ended up running a good race,” Postma said in a phone interview. “For a while there, we were concerned, but coming through with third place and taking 13 points ahead of Riverside, it was a good battle.”
Lakeside won the Class 1A title with 49 points, Northwest was second with 61 and Riverside rounded out the top four with 133 points. Meridian engineered a strong sixth-place finish, although points-wise the Trojans’ 195 tied them for fifth.
Junior Mimi Meggison recorded a team-high 10th-place finish in a time of 19:42.40 after her finish was sent to a video review. Meggison was originally listed 11th, but after she told her coach, Mike Holz, she believed she leaned across the finish line in front of the girl credited with a better finish, a review in fact showed Meggison finished 10th.
Dena Andrushenko (20.26.50) finished in 26th place with a career-best time, Ashlee VanDenTop (21:15.47) took 52nd, Tianna Pratt (21:21.42) finished 59th and ran a personal best and Madison Holz (23:28.30) took 115th and ran her best time of the season.
“To even tie for fifth where we were at the start of the season, it was something pretty special for me,” Holz said in a phone interview. “It shows we have a lot of leadership on our side.”
Mount Baker scored 263 points, which was good for a 13th-place finish. Sophomore Kaitlyn Stapp was Baker’s top finisher, taking 48th place with a time of 21:10.17. Katie Buss (21:11.13) finished right behind in 49th. Haley Rollins (21:34.21) took 70th, Natalie Smith (22:05.69) finished 88th and Katherine Dunford (22:29.18).