Bellingham, WA - A day filled with some blue sky and sunshine here in good, old Whatcom County and finally I got to interview and take photos of a cross country team out in the open at Lake Padden. Our 4th stop takes us to one of, if not, the best programs for both boys and girls in the entire state of Washington, Sehome High School.
Head Coach: Kevin Ryan (23rd Year)
Total Runners: 115
Key Returners: Lucas Cunningham (Sr.), Reed Smith (Sr.), Jacob Alexander (Jr.)
We Don't Know Them, But We Will: Jack Miller (Jr.), Roman Schroyer (So.),
Can anybody name a more dominating program on the west side of the state for almost 2 decades? For the 9th time, and 6th consecutive year in a row, the Sehome Mariners reigned as the 2A Cross Country State Championship for 2017.
Losing two of their top 7 guys, the Sehome Mariners do return a star studded team with 5 varsity runners coming back. Head coach Kevin Ryan credits the youth he had last season and is sure glad to have them back again this year.
"The team definitely came along last fall," said Ryan. "When your led by your top 3 runners all being under classmen, and still win a state title, it is great. But we are counting on some younger guys to step up since we need to replace our 4, 5, 8 spots."
Led by senior duo Lucas Cunningham and Reed Smith, the Mariners are one of the most talented teams in the state and a heavy favorite to take home the 2A crown again for a 7th consecutive year.
Coach Ryan is happy to have Smith join the team again this fall after not coming out for track in spring as he played soccer instead. Last fall, Smith finish 3rd at the 2A State Cross Meet and ran a best 5k time of 15:46 at the Northwest Conference Championships.
After a stellar track season, Lucas Cunningham comes back to this cross season with tons of momentum after placing 2nd at the 2A State Track Meet with a personal best time of 1:55. He also ran a personal best in the 1600 in 4:28. Coach Ryan cannot wait to watch Cunningham this fall after the great training he had over the summer.
"Lucas did everything we could ask for to run well during track. He has had a great summer of training, so we're really excited to see how things go. It is going to be a new feeling for him learning what it is like to be in the front of the races and to position himself to win them too."
Filling the spots behind the top 2 runners will be juniors Jacob Alexander, who also had a great track season running the 3200 in 9:52.6, and Jack Miller who ran 16:39 for his best 5k time last fall. Sophomore Roman Schroyer, another state runner for the Mariners, ran 16:34 last fall.
Senior Sam Risser, Juniors Dominik Riemann and Coleman Brummel, and freshman Ted Buetow are some other runners to watch for as well this year.
Among other schools who are a favorite to win the 2A title, besides Sehome, are Pullman High School and Liberty High School in Issaquah. Along with winning another state championship, coach Ryan would like to see his younger runners develop their training for the future.
"The goal for the team is to progress, but the main goal is to get those underclassman to take the next step in their training and hopefully make more progress. Anytime you have won state 6 years in a row and then bring back the runners from last year's team, we want to win again, but we want to win it the right way by making the proper development and not just relying on a couple guys."
Key Returners: Aspen Allsop (Sr.), Rosie Kirker (Jr.)
We Don't Know Them, But We Will: Emma Berreth (So.), Isabelle Douglas (So.), Ava McCullough (Fr.)
The Sehome girls returned to winning ways in 2017 after a 3rd place finish in 2016 behind state champion, Selah High School, and Liberty High School of Issaquah. The girls won their 10th state title in program history passing Northwest Christian Lacey High School for most in the state of Washington for a girl's program.
Last years girls team were not in the talks of contention for a cross country state title, but for some reason everything came to plan at the end said head coach Kevin Ryan and here we are a year later and another Sehome cross title.
"When we got our 4th runner back, we new we were back to win again," said Ryan. "But when she was not able to finish the race, never would have thought we would have won with just 6 girls, but they all stepped up on the right day and I think we surprised a lot of people."
Returning from last year's squad are two podium placers, junior Rosie Kirker (8th) and senior Aspen Allsop (11th). Kirker had a tough track season this last spring suffering stress fractures in her legs but was still able to qualify for the 2A 3200 state race. Coach Ryan was amazed that the soon-to-be junior made it that far into the season with a such an impactful injury.
"Anytime you have a serious injury, you dont get ahead of yourself. For her, the district meet was treated like the state meet and it was like, 'hey lets see what you can do'. She ran a really smart race that day and was able to make it on to actual state meet. She's just a smart, veteran runner."
Allsop ran well during the track season with times of 2:27.54 in the 800 and a personal best of 5:39.59 in the 1600.
Other state returners from last fall are sophomores Emma Berreth and Isabelle Douglas who return with varsity experience. Freshman Ava McCullough is a runner coach Ryan believes will make an immediate impact because of the experience she has had as a runner so far. Another sophomore in Jonquil Loeffelholz will round up the top 7 for the girl's team.
The girls are not as strong as the boys team this year, but coach Ryan says the potential is definitely there for them to be successful.
"If everything goes right and we get the training and the health we need, we have the chance to a good team and hopefully put ourselves in position to win state."
Heavy favorites West Valley High School of Spokane and Bellingham High School stand in the way of the Sehome team this fall for the state team title.