Amy Jo Murphy couldn’t remember where she finished in the Sehome Invite last year, but the Nooksack Valley senior will never forget where she placed this season.
Murphy, delighted that her coaches made her take off her watch, “just ran for the win, not for a time,” as she put it. She put on a furious but calculated kick to win the senior race as the only runner from a Class 1A school to prevail against primarily 4A and 3A competition in the eight varsity class races.
Just to show how much better Murphy is, she not only improved from ninth place in last year’s junior class race, but also ran the second best overall time while winning in 12 minutes, 6 seconds on Saturday, Sept. 12, on the 3,200-meter layout in and near Civic Stadium.
Murphy, who won by 12 seconds, improved by a whopping 1 minute, 5 seconds over last year’s time.
“I’m a little shocked,” said Murphy, who rallied from fourth place about halfway through the race to take the lead with about 600 meters to go. “But deep down in my gut, I thought I could do it.”
On a perfect day for what was a veritable cross country festival, Murphy wasn’t the only standout from Whatcom County, which produced a dozen top-10 finishes among the girls in the four class races and five among the boys.
Bellingham sophomores Cade Brown and Quincy Gale, the freshman winners last year, repeated as sophomores. Brown took the boys’ race in 10:36 and Gale prevailed among the girls in 13:00.
Some of the biggest news occurred in the girls’ freshman race, which produced two of the top three girls’ times overall. Bellingham’s Annika Reiss finished second with the third best overall time at 12:07 behind the phenomenal Taylor Roe, whose 11:19 for Kamiak not only led all girls, but would have tied for 20th in the boys’ senior race.
Class 2A Sehome’s girls claimed second place on a tie-breaker behind Class 4A Glacier Peak.
Murphy, who has a 3.87 grade-point average, said she is trying to attract the attention of colleges. After finishing fourth in last year’s state 1A final, she is determined to make sure colleges are aware of her potential.
“What was really great today was that our Nooksack runners were awesome (especially against so much competition from much larger schools,” said Murphy, who gave the credit for her improvement to “my coaches (Collin Buckley and Jay Sloane) and God.”
Buckley couldn’t have been happier; he immediately texted Sloane, who couldn’t be there.
“Amy Jo is really a learner,” Buckley said. “She works so hard. She’s got a heart for her team and the sport. She’s just a tremendous kid.”
Buckley said Murphy “has really developed a tremendous kick” in the past year.
“I knew she would be fine,” he said, when he saw her hanging slightly back in fourth place. “Jay deserves the credit for working out a plan all week.”
Bellingham’s Cade Brown not only displayed his running chops — and kept alive a dream of four Sehome Invite titles -- but also demonstrated his sportsmanship along with several teammates. They greeted all the finishers in the chute with handshakes and congratulations.
“I just love this race,” said Brown, who met his goal of repeating as a champion and improving his time (by 16 seconds).
“I want to finish higher than 40th (his place at 2A state cross country last year) and improve as much as I can,” he said of his goals. “I don’t want to set any ridiculous goals.”
Gale soaked her right foot in an ice bucket as part of her post-race regimen for coping with an Achilles problem that popped up last spring.
“I feel great, ready for the season,” said Gale, who began to love running when she participated in Girls on the Run, the program for girls in third, fourth and fifth grades. “I love representing Bellingham High.”
Reiss, the 15-year-old daughter of local triathlon and running standout Marti Riemer and road biker Nate Reiss, said she welcomed being pushed by a national-caliber runner like Kamiak’s Roe.
“I run with my mom and that helps push me to go faster,” said Reiss, who won the city’s middle school titles all three years and said she has been running almost since she learned to walk. “I tried to stick with Taylor Roe. She really pushed me. I was pretty nervous (for her first major high school race). I tried to push to the front right away at the start, and that worked well.”
In the boys’ senior race, Sehome’s Colton Johnsen and Riley Allsop finished second and fourth, respectively, behind Arlington’s Nathan Beamer, whose 9:59 was the best of all boys. Johnson ran 10:13, Allsop finished six seconds behind and Ferndale’s Roberto Aguilera was fifth in 10:22.
Johnson, who was third best among all boys, and Allsop, who noted that three of Sehome’s top boys had to miss the meet, said they enjoyed pushing each other.
“We have something special going with our team,” Johnson said of Sehome’s boys. And the team means everything to us.”
One other Whatcom County boy was a top 10 finisher: Lynden Christian sophomore Eric Steiger was eighth.
On the girls’ side, top 10 seniors were Sehome’s Dana Ringler in seventh, LC’s Sarah Ball was eighth and Sehome’s Aili Emory was tenth.
Among the juniors, Sehome’s Kate Rose was fourth, followed by teammates Emma Clark in eighth and Maya Smith in tenth. Among the sophomores, Sehome’s Emma Hageman was sixth and Frances Mitchell was tenth.
Numerous Whatcom County runners finished 11th through 20th, providing tales of improvement potential for next year’s race.
Longtime Bellingham coach Bill McClement pretty much summed up what the sportsmanship-filled meet, as well as his team’s season, is all about: “We just want to keep a relaxed and positive atmosphere, so the kids can enjoy their high school experience.”
SEHOME INVITE AT CIVIC STADIUM
3,200 meter course
Overall team scores: Glacier Peak 29, Arlington 35, Redmond 47.
Top 10: 1. Nathan Beamer (Arlington) 9:59; 2. Colton Johnsen (Sehome)10:13; 3. Pieter Andrews (Arlington) 10:14; 4. Riley Allsop (Sehome) 10:19; 5. Roberto Aguilera (Ferndale) 10:22; 6. Sawyer Carter (Glacier Peak) 10:27; 7. Garren Arnold (Glacier Peak) 10:28; 8. Michael Barene (Arlington) 10:31; 9. Zachary Cushman (Arlington) 10:34; 10. Hans Thoreson (Snohomish) 10:37.
Top 10: 1. 1. Cullen McEachern (Kamiak) 10:10; 2. Chris Bianchini (Glacier Peak) 10:26; 3. Aaron Leavens (Snohomish) 10:35; 4. Cameron Sanders (Meadowdale) 10:38; 5. Ryan Abdalla (Cedar Park Christian) 10:42; 6. Hunter Ashby (Burlington) 10:48; 7. J.J. Childers (Arlington) 10:50; 8. Devin Kirk (Shorewood) 10:52; 9. Eric Acero-Rosas (Arlington) 10:52; 10. James Hafner (10:53).
Top 10: 1. Cade Brown (Bellingham) 10:36; 2. Blake Donnelly (Burlington)10:54; 3. Liam Anderson (Snohomish) 10:55; 4. Eric Nickum (Redmond) 11:02; 5. Colin Knechtel (Meadowdale) 11:02; 6. Isaac Mohn (O’Dea) 11:03; 7. Tim Mandyzuk (Glacier Peak); 8. Eric Steiger (Lynden Christian) 11:04; 9. Kyle Nickum (Redmond) 11:10; 10. Leslie Owen (Redmond) 11:10.
Top 10: 1. Lance Mason (Redmond) 10:52; 2. George Cretu (Redmond) 10:56; 3. Tyler Tanta (Glacier Peak) 10:56; 4. Riley McDowell (Glacier Peak) 10:56; 5. Connor Jaynes (Arlington) 11:07; 6. Travis Mason (Redmond) 11:09; 7. Noah Loftis (Arlington) 11:14; 8. Blake Landry (Arlington) 11:26; 9. Levi Jones (Marysville-Getchell) 11:39; 10. Jose Luis Gandara (Shorewood) 11:39.
Overall team scores: Glacier Peak 32, Sehome 50 (second place trophy on tiebreaker), Snohomish 50.
Top 10: 1. Amy Jo Murphy (Nooksack Valley) 12:06; 2. Nicole Vijgen (Kamiak)12:18; 3. Kyla Shade (Snohomish) 12:23; 4. Emily Donnelly (Monroe) 12:25; 5. Marie Gaudin (Arlington) 12:28; 6. Maria Mueller (Holy Names Academy)12:47; 7. Dana Ringler (Sehome) 12:54; 8. Sarah Ball (Lynden Christian)12:58; 9. Lilly Whitehead (Lakewood) 13:03; 10. Aili Emory (Sehome) 13:08.
Top 10: 1. Heidi Smith (Glacier Peak) 12:10; 2. Katie Brandvold (Snohomish)12:32; 3. Natalie Church (Glacier Peak) 12:35; 4. Kate Rose (Sehome) 12:46; 5. Rachel Hansen (Shorewood) 12:57; 6. Dega Mumin (Cleveland) 12:59; 7. Gabi Frank (Holy Names Academy) 13:00; 8. Emma Clark (Sehome) 13:01; 9. Emily Farden (Shorewood) 13:01; 10. Maya Smith (Sehome) 13:11.
Top 10: 1. Quincy Gale (Bellingham) 13:00, 2. Maria Rivera-Valles (Mt. Vernon) 13:17; 3. Ellie Shoop (Shorewood) 13:26; 4. Elena Willems (Glacier Peak) 13:28; 5. Savannah Hastings (Monroe) 13:31; 6. Emma Hageman (Sehome) 13:36; 7. Amelia Muscott (Redmond) 13:38; 8. Cassie Swartzell (Snohomish) 13:39; 9. Mary Andrews (Arlington) 13:40; 10. Frances Mitchell (Sehome) 13:49.
Top 10: 1. Taylor Roe (Kamiak) 11:19; 2. Annika Reiss (Bellingham) 12:07; 3. Brooke Wallace (Glacier :Peak) 12:38; 4. Hannah Clymer (Glacier Peak) 13:02; 5. Alicia Anderson (Kamiak) 13:05; 6. Alexis Smith (Oak Harbor) 13:13; 7. Leah Clark (Kamiak) 13:19; 8. Eileen Beres (Shorewood) 13:22; 9. Tracy Hatch (Kamiak) 13:27; 10. Kaley Maurer (Monroe) 13:28.
Source: Official results from Sehome