Bellingham, WA - With 400 meters to go, Meridian's Nathan Schneider entered Civic Stadium one last time and appeared to be well on his way to win a Northwest Conference Championship. He would be the first Trojan since Collin Magnusson back in 2014 to win the conference meet.
Now we have 200 meters to go, Schneider making his final turn down the homestretch. A championship right in front of him.
A celebration for the Meridian boys was about to begin, but then "the kick" happened.
Behind Schneider was Sehome's Jacob Alexander, running with what appeared to be so much anger in his face. The chant from Alexander's teammates on the sideline lit a fire underneath him and a burst of speed drove him past Schneider with 50 meters to go.
Alexander's final move at the end made him become the 2018 Northwest Conference cross country champion running a time of 16:08.92, to Schneider's 16:10.13.
Coming into the race yesterday, Alexander didn't have a mindset of even winning at all. He was hoping to finish in the top 15 or 20.
"I thought it was going to go out really fast so my hope was to finish in the top 15 or so," Alexander said. "After our first mile, I felt like I wasn't putting a full effort into it."
Because he started out slower than expected, Alexander's coach said to progress up through the race and pass people all the way to end. But the thing that clicked for Alexander was when his coach told him a message which would change his whole race plan.
"I was up with those two Meridian runners in the top three and my coach looked at me and said, 'you could be a champion today.' That's when I knew it was time to fight."
Alexander was able to catch up to Meridian's Schneider before entering the stadium and the two would go back and forth in the back woods. Schneider would pull away from Alexander for a while, but like I said earlier, the other runners from Sehome cheered on their teammate to victory.
"When I came into the stadium, my teammates were lined up along the last little stretch telling me I could win this thing. I knew it was time to go and just gave it my all."
Alexander has been Sehome's No. three runner all year long, but these last two races he has been in, he has come in first for the Mariners.
To go along with his great performance, the Sehome boys won another Northwest Conference team title scoring 33 points and also having three more runners finish in the top 10, and a total of six runners in the top 20.
Reed Smith (16:18.71) placed 3rd, Lucas Cunningham (16:20.43) placed 4th, and Roman Schroyer (16:38.36) placed 9th for Sehome.