After four years and three individual girls’ cross country state titles, Sehome senior Emily Pittis finally revealed her kryptonite — she’s not a fan of leading. In fact, she said it’s “terrifying.”
“It’s a nerve-racking place to be,” Pittis said in a phone interview. “When you make your move, you know all these girls behind you are gunning for you.”
Whether she likes it or not, Pittis is pretty darned good as the frontrunner. For the third time in four years, she claimed the crown as the top girls’ Class 2A runner, running a career-best time of 18 minutes, 11.13 seconds on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco .
Though she’s pleased with that accomplishment, the ultimate team-first runner is even more ecstatic that her run helped lead the Mariners to a third-straight team title.
“You can say that’s a pretty special way to finish off,” said Pittis, who also won individual titles as a freshman and sophomore. “It couldn’t be much sweeter. Who wouldn’t want to go out that way?”
According to her coach, Kevin Ryan, no other cross country runner has been more decorated in state history, as Pittis leaves with three titles and one runner-up finish individually to go with the team’s three firsts and one second over that same span.
And for one final time in Sehome green and gold on Saturday, Pittis displayed what makes her a truly special runner.
“It’s really still a bit surreal,” Pittis said. “I came into the race super focused and really calm about the race. It was the weird calmness I don’t think I’ve ever had before state.”
About two miles in, Pittis said she found herself in a three- or four-runner lead pack, and she knew she was coming to a point where Ryan liked to stand to yell encouragement.
“He’s always at the two-mile mark,” Pittis said. “He always yells great, inspirational things. I’m not sure what he said this time, something like: ‘Time to go. This is your race.’ Something really motivational. I hate taking the lead, because it’s really terrifying, but I figured this is my last race — the last time — so I might as well.”
And take the lead she did, as she pulled away to beat second-place Kristen Garcia, a freshman from Sedro-Woolley, by more than 17 seconds to put a fitting exclamation point to her amazing career.
“It’s a pretty good feeling right now,” Pittis said. “I’m just so thankful for Coach Kevin and all the coaches I’ve had the past four years and all my teammates. I couldn’t do this without their help. I’m thankful for my family’s support. I’m in shock how fast it has all gone and how amazing it’s been.”
Number of Pittis' individual second-place finishes corrected Nov. 10, 2014.