Boys State XC Recap: Strong pack running leads Issaquah to school's first-ever team title
Full recap from the 2022 State Cross Country Championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
PASCO - It began with a vision and a dream when Liza Rickey took over the Issaquah cross country program a few years ago.
The daughter of long-time Eisenhower head coach Phil English knew the possibilities of what this year's Eagle team had after finishing second at last year's state championship meet. It was just a matter of putting it all together on the right day.
They did just that and even a little bit more this past Saturday in Pasco as a dream finally became reality for the first time in program history.
In a complete team effort, the Eagles of Issaquah came away with the 4A team title, bringing home the school's first-ever boys cross country title by defeating KingCo League rival Eastlake 58-101 on a sunny but very windy day at the Sun Willows Golf Course.
“These athletes set the goal to win two years ago, and they did it,” Rickey said. “These guys are incredible. They have passion, they support each other, they show up each and every day.”
After having just one runner on the podium stand in last year's state championships, the Eagles secured five podium spots and had a sixth runner crack the top 25 to lean the scoring in their favor.
Connor Rickey was the first Issaquah runner across the tape as he placed eighth overall in a time of 16 minutes, 16.1 seconds. Following Rickey on the podium stand were Benjamin Konopka in 10th (16:22), Brennen Rickey taking 11th (16:25.8), Jonathan Liu placing 13th (16:28) and Elliott McIntosh finishing 16th (16:34.6). Getting into the top 25 as well for Issaquah was Alexander Yahn placing 23rd in 16:41.8.
“This is an incredible team,” Brennen Rickey said. “We’ve gone on amazing journey together. I love and support this culture…so having us on that podium in first place is an unbelievable feeling.”
Second-place Eastlake saw its lone podium finisher in Noah Zahn as he finished sixth overall in a time of 16:10.9.
West Valley (Yakima) was third with 112 points with two runners hitting the podium stand in Caden Casteel (7th, 16:14.2) and Max Hutton (12th, 16:27.4). Lewis and Clark finished in fourth with 131 points, with Evan Bruce earning fourth place individually as well in a time of 16:00.1.
Emerald Ridge's Conner Wirth outlasted Rogers' (Puyallup) Isaac Briggs for the individual crown as the senior ran 15:37.4 for the win. Briggs followed in 15:39.7.
Tahoma's Ryan Lewis, last spring's 4A 800 meter champion, finished third in a time of 15:53.6. Kamiakin's Ezra Teeples took fifth in 16:09.8.
The Seattle Prep boys celebrated a state team title for the first in 22 years as the Panthers took down defending champion Bishop Blanchet 75-81 in a very competitive race.
Jack Henzke led all Panthers with a fifth-place individual finish behind a time of 15:54, with teammates Liam Riley and Hudson Atrosh making their way on the podium stand as well, finishing seventh and 15th, respectively, in times of 16:02.5 and 16:12.5.
For Panthers' head coach Andrew Walker, a former runner for Seattle Prep, it's a dream come true for him to see his alma mater to accomplish this feat after many of years of coming up just a bit short.
"It's a cool thing," Walker said. "We don't worry about how it's going to happen; we just go out there and try to get it done...These guys found a way to get it done, so that's been the motto all along."
Seattle Prep bounced back into the win column after falling to Blanchet at the district qualifying meet the week before at Lower Woodland but were without a couple of runners due to sickness. With everyone back this past weekend, the Panthers, as Walker would say, "Found A Way", to get the job done despite adversity striking them towards the end of the year.
"We knew (Blanchet) was going to give us their best shot," Walker said. "Last week, I wasn't concern about it as we were just trying to qualify. Had they run that way at their league meet, they would have beat us. We knew it was going to be tight."
Blanchet's Vincent Recupero and Will Schneider ran in their final state cross country meet together to lead the Bears, as Recupero earned third overall in a time of 15:51.2 and Schneider finished 10th in 16:08.5.
Mt. Spokane put up a good fight, finishing third overall with 89 points. The Wildcats put four runners in the top-20, with Ben Sonneland leading the way with an 11th place run in a time of 16:10.8.
Gig Harbor took home fourth place as the Tides scored 145 points. Micah Galeana and Preston Fradet made the top 10 as individuals with as Galeana took sixth in 15:59 and Fradet was ninth in 16:06.
Lakes' Cruize Corvin goes out a state champion in his final high school race as he went onto run 15:30.1 to claim the 3A crown over Walla Walla's Brody Hartley, who ran a second-place time of 15:39.9.
"It feels so good," Corvin said. "It's been a dream of mine since my freshman year, I was like, 'Maybe I can do that one day,'. To actually do it is unreal."
Shorecrest's Luke Schmidt had himself a day too finishing fourth in a time of 15:51.5.
A year following his absence in the high school running scene in Washington last fall, Sehome's Zack Munson made his return to Pasco for the first time since his freshman to claim this year's 2A individual title.
"It's so nice to be back," Munson said. "So fun to just not only be here competing individually but with my team is another element that I missed out on last year. It was so fun to be able to bring everyone together."
Munson, who finished 21st as a freshman in 2019, clocked a time of 15:37.1 to win his first-ever cross country state title as he beat out Washougal's Samuel Grice's time of 15:56.7.
Early on in the race, the competition heated up with Munson, Grice and Port Angeles' Jack Gladfelter, who finished third in 16:01.3, all packing up heading through the first mile. Right as the three hit the 1.5-mile mark, Munson accelerated along the back end of the course and took full control of the lead, never losing it for the remainder of the race.
"I knew I had to be on my toes," Munson said. "Nothing is ever given. Someone's always going to show up feeling really good. I knew Jack and Samuel are guys that would show up, so I obviously had to be attentive toward my competition. It just came down to who's able to handle the conditions the most. We all ran really well."
Selah's Nicolas Spencer finished fourth overall in a time of 16:07.6 to lead the Vikings to a fourth-place team finish with 187 points. Tumwater's John Hoffer finished fifth in a time of 16:11.
The Bellingham boys captured the program's first-ever state team title as the Bayhawks scored 86 points to beat out inner-city rivals Sehome (2nd, 95) and Squalicum (3rd, 102) in what was their best race of the year.
Will Giesen led three Bellingham runners onto the podium stand as he earned eighth overall in a time of 16:32.3, with teammates Quinn Hartsoch (14th, 16:41.7) and Pade Loveland (15th, 16:42.1) following behind.
Squalicum, the reigning champions, had one podium finisher in Chase Bartlett as he went onto finish 16th in a time of 16:42.6.
Medical Lake's Reid Headrick ran a gutsy race to win the 1A boys individual title, becoming the school's first-ever boys cross country individual champion.
In a close race with Lynden Christian's Andrew Luce, Headrick closed out the final 400 meters with a nine second win in a time of 16:01.1 to bests Luce's effort of 16:10.5.
"I just had to grind it out," Headrick said. "I knew I had a good lead on him, but the question would be if I could hold it, and I managed to do that today."
Headrick ran solo throughout the majority of race with Luce and Northwest's Stephen Bleakley-Harris trailing behind in second and third. Luce broke away from Bleakley-Harris and started to gain ground on Headrick on the final mile. Headrick just kept pushing along and remained out front despite Luce closing in on him.
"Mentally, it was one of the hardest races I've ran," Headrick said. "I knew I had everything in me to beat them...this was my last chance to do it and it's what I wanted to do."
Bleakley-Harris closed the race in third place, running a time of 16:21.2. Northwest teammate Desmond Stanfield rounded out the top five by running a time of 16:44.6.
Freeman's Barrett Poulsen concluded his junior year with a fourth-place finish in a time of 16:37.1.
A battle between Emerald Sound Conference team foes went down to the wire, but it was the Bush boys coming out on top over Northwest 95-100, as the Blazers won their first state championship in program history.
Amare Fields and Duncan Frisbie-Smith each earned individual top-10 finishes en route to leading the Blazers, with Field placing ninth in 17:13.3 and Frisbie-Smith placing 10th in 17:13.7.
Three-time defending state champions Lakeside settled for third, scoring 129 points. Hayden Blank concluded his career for the Eagles, running 16:51.8 to place sixth overall.
Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) scored 134 points to finish fourth. Josiah Jaquith was 14th for the Eagles in 17:24.5.
Behind four individual podium finishes, the Chewelah boys delivered a great team performance to win the program's first state title since the 1996 season.
Cole Foster and Ty Crockett represented the Cougars in top 10 as Foster placed sixth in 17:14.3 and Crockett was eighth in 17:20.8 to lead Chewelah to an 83-121 victory over Pope John Paul II.
Titus Tapia and Blake Foster were the two other Cougars to make the podium stand, placing 12th and 16th, respectively, in 17:37 and 17:42.2.
"Everyone's hard work has paid off," Cole Foster said. "I'm really proud of everybody and go Cougs!"
PJP2 didn't have any podium finishers but were led by an 18th place finish from Samuel Rucker as he ran 17:55.6.
St. George's took home third place honors, scoring 131 points behind the leading efforts of Ben Morales. The senior took third overall in a time of 16:53.7.
Defending champions Liberty Bell placed fourth with 137 points. Dexter Delaney finished fourth overall for the Mountain Lions in a time of 16:59.6 and teammate William Halpin was fifth in 17:06.5.
Tri-Cities Prep Ciaran St. Hilaire dominated the field to win the individual title in a time of 16:27.4. Northwest Christian's (Lacey) Asher Ingram was second in 16:50.1.