Updated: Aug 22, 2018
Deming, WA - Happy first day of cross country season in Whatcom County. It happens to be a smokey day here but that doesn't seem to be keeping all the runners from coming out to their first day of practices. To kick off the season, I will be going around to all 10 high schools previewing each schools cross country programs. First stop, out at my old stomping grounds: Mount Baker High School.
Head Coach: Gordon Braun (2nd Year)
Total Runners: 20
Key Returners: Ian Green (Sr.), Braedan Hart (So.), Nico Johnson (So.)
We Don't Know Them, But We Will: Eli Freeman (So.), Rex Vandenhaak (So.), Finley Bell (Fr.)
The Mountaineer boy's team have one of, if not, the youngest teams in the Northwest Conference for the second year in a row. But with the youth, head coach Braun believes there will be a competitive spirit blooming around the program.
"With one senior, we are young but we do have a solid top 3 or 4 guys" said Braun. "We are going to need a sophomore and one of the freshman to step up and complete our top five".
Sophomore duo Braedan Hart and Nico Johnson showed great signs last fall as freshman and both were able to run sub 18 minutes for a 5,000 meter race. Johnson, who ran track last spring, got under 5 minutes in the 1600 running 4:53 at the 1A District Meet. Both Johnson and Hart should be the top runners for the Mountaineers.
Team captain and lone senior, Ian Green, was the Mountaineers second runner last season and came up short of one spot of making it to the State Cross Meet. Green's best 5k time from last season was 17:42 at the NWC Cross Country Championships.
Another sophomore in Eli Freeman missed out on most of the season last fall due to injuries but when healthy, he was in the top 4 spots for the Mountaineers. Freshman Finley Bell and Sophomore Rex Vanderhaak will get into the mix as the 5th and 6th runners.
The Mountaineer boy's have a rich background of winning 3 state cross titles and Braun wants to eventually get back to the winning ways. Braun believes the boy's are one year away from making some noise in this conference.
Key Returners: Juliette Haggith (Jr.), Kali Cook (Jr.)
We Don't Know Them, But We Will: Shay Knutson (So.), Jenna Lenssen (So.)
Another young team in the Northwest Conference, the Mountaineer girl's are full of great talent despite not having any seniors this year. Last fall, two girls from the Lady Mountaineers qualified for the 1A State Cross Meet in Junior's Juliette Haggith (92nd) and Kali Cook (77th). Head Coach Gordan Braun expects these girl's to make it again this year, but he thinks the entire team could make it as well.
"Besides Juliette and Kali, two sophomores in Shay (Knutson) and Jenna (Lenssen) should make a big impact on our team and we should have a solid top 4, and hopefully get that 5th runner".
Haggith's best 5k time from last fall was 20:35 and Cook's best 5k time was 21:08.9. Both girls also ran track as well last spring.
Sophomore Lenssen was running great all year long last fall and was at one point the Lady Mountaineers 2nd runner. Unfortunately the week before the district meet, she sprained her ankle at practice and was not able to run in the race the following week. But, she came back later that spring and had a great track season.
Like the boy's program, the Lady Mountaineers have a rich background of success winning 5 team state titles. The Lady Mountaineers rank 3rd on the All Time Greatest Girl's High School Programs in the State of Washington on the Washington State High School Cross Country Coaches Association website.
7 - The number of years in a row the Lady Mountaineers have gotten a runner to the State Meet.