Kermit the Frog was wrong — it is easy being green, at least when you’ve got six teammates also wearing green.
For the second straight year and the third time in five years, the green-and-gold-clad Sehome boys’ and girls’ cross country teams swept the Class 2A team state titles on Saturday, Nov. 8, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, and in both cases it was truly a team effort.
“It’s the most amazing feeling,” Sehome sophomore Maya Smith said in a phone interview. “I’m so lucky to be on a team that is able to work together and compete like we did.”
Smith was one of three Mariners girls runner to place in the top 10 individually on Saturday to help the team out-point second-place Bellingham 50-85.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Smith’s fifth-place finish in 19 minutes, 4.03 seconds was behind teammate Emily Pittis’ state-championship time of 18:11.13 and in front of sophomore teammate Abby Johnson’s ninth-place finish in 19:16.09. Ellie Rowan-Arnett placed 25th in 19:40.16 and Dana Ringler rounded out the Mariners’ scoring five in 28th (19:48.48).
“I was really happy with my run,” Smith said. “There was never a moment when I felt I couldn’t go on. I kept thinking about all my teammates and how I wanted to do well for them. That really kept me going.”
In traditional Sehome fashion, the girls wrote the names of their teammates on their hands to use as in-race reminders of what they were competing for.
The boys were just as impressive as the girls, as Mariners had all five scoring runners place in the top 21, led by eighth-place Kirby Overman, who ran a personal-best 15:50. Teammates Colton Johnson (16:06.77), Riley Allsop (16:10.22), Sam Gillman (16:12.79) and Ben Stalheim (16:13.83) were right on his hip in 15th, 17th, 19th and 21st place, respectively.
“I think everyone ran strong,” Overman said. “When I looked back, I saw our next four guys almost one after another. I was really amazed by how our entire team performed.”
The result was an impressive 52-82 victory over second-place Sequim.
As amazing as that performance was, it’s something that has become expected out of Sehome cross country teams the past decade.
The boys’ title was their fourth since 2005, while the girls won their ninth overall and eighth in the past nine years.
“I think that’s a testament to a lot of things,” Overman said. “With Kevin (Ryan) all the coaches and assistant coaches we’ve had here, it’s always just a good atmosphere at Sehome when it comes to running.”
And that atmosphere is passed down from class to class, as are the expectations.
“I was expecting it to be something unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” said Smith, who went to state as an alternate as a freshman last year. “But when I got out there and started running, it didn’t feel all that different from any other meet. ... (The older runners on the team) just told us how to get ready and reminded us of what we were running for — we were running for the team.”
Smith certainly fed off having fellow a fellow sophomore in Johnson to run with Saturday, as both continued to push each other throughout.
“Maya had the race of her life, and she owes a lot of that to having Abby right there,” Pittis said. “They’ve worked together all season. I’ve been constantly impressed with how the two of them have worked together all year and the relationship they have on and off the course.”
And having relationships like that makes something like Saturday’s victories even sweeter.
“I’ve love all the teams I’ve run for, but this year was particularly special,” said Pittis, who will leave the Sehome cross country program with three individual and three team state titles. “This one was super tight. There was not a girl that I didn’t love and respect and trust. I think we’ve really grown so much as a team. It means so much to me — I’m probably going to start crying. But they’re happy tears. I love this team. I love this school, and there isn’t anybody else I would want to run for.”