Updated: Aug 26, 2018
Everson, WA - Great news! Today was probably the last day any schools will be inside for fall sports since I can see some blue skies in the area and a majority of the smoke has been cleared out. Our next stop is out in the valley at Nooksack for the high school cross country previews.
Head Coach: Jay Sloane (5th Year)
Total Runners: 20
Key Returners: Logan Clabaugh (Jr.), Josh Steele (So.)
We Don't Know Them, But We Will: Jack Manske (Sr.), Bryce VanBerkum (Jr.)Eric Riley (So.)
The Pioneer boys cross country team got 3 runners to the 1A State Meet last fall, the most competitors at the state meet since the school won the 1A cross title in 2009. Of the 3 boys who made it to Pasco, only 1 will return this upcoming season.
Junior Logan Clabaugh is coming off one of the best track seasons in Nooksack Valley school history for a sophomore running 4:31.35 in the 1600, missing out on state track meet by one spot, and 10:16.13 in the 3200. Last fall was his first time out for cross country after playing football his freshman year. No doubts run through his mind at all after running 17:45.3 in a 5k and making state his first season.
Another athlete from the track team this last spring coming back for his 2nd year of cross country is sophomore Josh Steele, the first freshman athlete from Nooksack Valley to win a district title in the 400. Sloane says Steele has put in the most miles this summer out of all the athletes that have turned out and cannot wait to watch him race this year.
"Both Logan and Josh had great first years of cross," said Sloane. "I expect Logan to make it again to state this year, and Josh has the capability of making it."
Coach Jay Sloane emphasizes the team aspect numerous times and knows how important it is to have team success.
"Our first few are very strong, and then we have incoming guys that are pulling up into the 3, 4 5, spots. As the season progresses, they will be a strong team again."
Other athletes that had great track seasons for the Pioneers that will run this fall are sophomore Eric Riley and senior Jack Manske. Riley was predominately a 3200 runner as he ran 11:15.3, while Manske's event was the 1600.
Junior Bryce VanBerkum, who played golf in the spring, ran cross last fall and will fill the 5th spot for the Pioneer boys this year. His best time from last season was 19:37.
For the boy's team, Coach Sloane says he is coaching them to get to state just like any of his other past teams. Despite the youth, he believes his team will put themselves into great position to make it to Pasco in November.
Key Returners: Lily Snow (So.), Abigayle Harlan (So.)
We Don't Know Them, But We Will: Eden Benner (So.), Andrea Hulford (So.)
If you payed attention to last year's Nooksack Valley girl's cross country team, you may remember a certain state champion that brought home her school's first individual cross country state title. Alyce Harlan became head coach Jay Sloane's 3rd individual state cross champion he has coached during his 20 year span of cross country coaching.
Of all the athletes he has coached, he would have never expected this type of runner to complete what Alyce did over the course of her 4 year career.
"Pretty special year last fall," Said Sloane. "Watching her progress over the last 4 years was something I have never seen in an athlete, going from a 30 minute 5k runner, down to a 18:06 minute 5k runner. Losing her is definitely a big hit."
Along with Alyce, the Nooksack girls did qualify two more girls to the 1A State Meet, including returning sophomore Lily Snow, who ran 20:38 for her best 5k time last fall.
Coach Sloane sees this season as a rebuilding year for the Pioneer girls. Some with good summer miles, but also some who are new to program and are just learning.
"I think those that ran last year are coming back stronger, but there is also a mixture of training this offseason. Some got a lot done this summer, while others are building up into the training."
The Pioneers graduated 3 girls last fall, bringing 4 back from last years team. Accompanying Snow are sophomores Abigayle Harlan (23:18) and Courtney Velthuizen (29:59.9), and junior Jenna Tiemersma (26:37.5). There is a potential senior Madison Hem will join the team this year too.
Sophomores Andrea Hulford and Eden Benner join this years cross country team, which will definitely help out the Pioneers. Benner ran track for Coach Sloane last spring, but has not run cross country since middle school. Hulford did run cross country in middle school, but also has not run this sport since 7th grade.
Coach Sloane is excited to have Hulford and Benner on the team this year and believes they will make a big impact for the team.
With the combination of new runners and experienced ones, Coach Sloane says it is a rebuilding year but his goal is to get his girls team to the state meet through a tough 1A Bi-District for the 3rd time in the last 4 years.