Coupeville, WA - About a week ago up at Lynden Christian High School, Granite Falls' Isaac Cortes was in the lead on the final 400 meters of the District-1 3,200 meter final and was in total command to win.
With 250 meters to go, Cortes was passed by Meridian's Jaskaran Dhatt and wasn't able to get back into first place as he fell short of the district title.
Indeed, he was outkicked in the end.
"I've been upset with how I have run the 3,200 this year," said Cortes on his performance last week. "I haven't had a lot big races or run a personal best this season."
But when it came down to the race that mattered most, Cortes showed up.
The Granite Falls senior won the 1A Bi-District 3,200 race in personal best time of 9:47.02 at Coupeville High School this past Saturday, but once again had to over come some adversity to pull it out.
Cortes cruised through his first mile around 4:52 hitting 73 seconds on each lap as his coach told him to do so.
Cortes fell into third place behind Meridian's Abbas Theophilus and, once again, Dhatt on laps 6 and 7 in which he said were his hardest laps.
With 500 meters to go, something clicked for Cortes and his gears changed to a different type of speed.
"I felt more relaxed this time around," said Cortes. "I was confident in my racing after running a 4:27 in the 1,600 on Thursday, so I knew I could run a good time in the 3,200 because I have been training all season long and I have been wanting to run fast badly."
As Cortes got his automatic bid to state with his win, four other runners managed to meet the qualifying standard to also secure a bid.
Meridian's Theophilus (9:50.57) and Dhatt (9:52.56) were second and third and King's Anthony Hart (9:55.22) and Nick LeBar (9:59.01) were fourth and fifth.
In the boy's 800, Callahan Yale of South Whidbey won his second Bi-District title beating University Prep's Arie Smidt running a personal best time of 1:57.19.
Smidt, who ran 1:57.81, took the early advantage as Yale expected.
"I wasn't sure what was going to happen today, but I knew mentally I was going to give it my all," said Yale.
"Arie is really fast and if he was going to take it out quick, he would. I'd just have to stay with him otherwise I wouldn't have made up ground if he got too far ahead of me."
Yale and Smidt would battle for all 800 meters but it was the South Whidbey senior who had just a little bit left in the end to secure the win, in what could be considered an upset over the defending 1A 800 state champion.
"As I was on his shoulder, I just struck at the right time as I had a great chance to catch him and it surprised quite a bit of people by beating him." said Yale on his finish.
Meridian's Jenson Ellars and Nooksack Valley's Logan Clabaugh finished third and fourth in another fight for placing to make it to state. Both would run 2:00, but Ellars was ahead by .07 tenths of a second.
On the girl's side, Olivia Markezich of Bear Creek took the 800 title in personal best time of 2:18.41; her second Bi-District championship of the meet.
Granite Fall's Elie Bassett was second in 2:20.09; The Bush School's Ela Nickels was third in 2:20.27; University Prep's Sarah Colando was fourth in 2:20.96.
Kaia Swegler Richmond of South Whidbey ran under the qualifying time despite placing fifth as she ran 2:21.9 to move on.
In the 3,200, King's' Naomi Smith redeemed herself from a loss in the 1,600 crushing the field and almost lapping every runner in a time of 10:27.5.
Even though she lost the 1,600 to Markezich, who placed third in the 3,200 running 11:14.87, she couldn't be disappointed with the fact she ran 4:55, which is two seconds off her personal best.
"I know Olivia has a better kick than me, so I felt like I learned a lot from that race," said Smith about Thursdays race."
"Now I know where I need to start my kick from which is a little earlier than I have been. I learned some valuable stuff and she was the better runner that day."
Feeling fatigue the morning of the race, Smith didn't know if she had a fast race in her and thought it would potentially be slower.
That wouldn't be the case as she kept cruising through each lap at about 78 to 79 seconds.
Once she got into rhythm, it was all about having fun for No. 1 runner in the state for the 1A schools.
"Just being able to have your sights set on a goal and run towards it is always fun." said Smith. "I just have to keep doing what I am doing next week and always have a good plan going into each race."
Bear Creek's Andrea Markezich was second with a time of 11:10.03 and Northwest's Macenna Hanson was fourth with a time of 11:17.78.
You can catch all these athletes at Roos Field at Eastern Washington University in Cheney this Thursday, May 23, through Saturday, May 25, at the 1A State Track and Field Championships. The 1,600 races begin on Thursday.