King's Girls Stun Northwest at Districts

Langley, WA - No. 5 King's High School girls cross country team took down the No. 1 team in the 1A ranks, The Northwest School, yesterday at South Whidbey High School at the District One and Two 1A Championships.

This win for the program feels great right now says head coach Rod Wilcox, and will be a big momentum build for the team.

"I was so excited about how well the girls ran," said Wilcox. "But beating Northwest or not doesn't matter this week. Next week matters so much more, but for those girls to get that title is huge."

Junior Naomi Smith won her eighth race of this season and her first ever district individual championship running 18:16.1 to lead the Knights to a first place team finish.

For Smith to do well and win, she knew she had to separate herself from the other girls in the race because she said her kick isn't her strength.

King's Naomi Smith coming up to the first mile in the District One 1A Championship Meet at South Whidbey High School (Keenan Gray/The Runner)

"The goal was to get out quick so I could break away from the other runners," said Smith. "I wanted to be alone by the time I hit the track the last time and it actually worked better than expected. Just having that mindset at the beginning of the race really helped me out."

In only her second year of cross country, previously a volleyball player, Smith has become one of the most notable names in the 1A classification in the state of Washington.

Wilcox says the leadership Smith brings to the team is why the girls are having so much success right now.

"She is a joy to work with. Beyond the fact that she is really good, she's a good team leader and positive role model to the other girls."

Also finishing in the top 10 from King's was Greta Gunning placing tenth overall running 20:31.45.

The Knights are enjoying being districts champions as of now, but its only a matter of time before the state meet is here. Wilcox knows this was a great learning experience for his team.

"The girls learned a lot about themselves after this race and now they can take that confidence and go out next week and roll. This was the nervous one, and next week's will be fun."

A total of 42 individuals and six teams qualified for the state meet in Pasco next week.

Joining Smith in the top 10, King's Greta Gunning finished tenth running 20:31.45.

Finishing second and third from Bear Creek was Andrea and Olivia Markezich and they ran 18:29.14 and 18:50.62.

Macenna Hanson from The Northwest School was her team's top runner placing forth overall running a time of 19:43.30. Northwest placed second as team scoring 82 points.

South Whidbey's Kaia Swegler Richmond finished 5th and her time was 19:53.75. The Falcons did qualify as a team placing fifth with 160 points.

Ela Nickels and Lolo Dederer finished seventh and eighth for The Bush School running 20:13.91 and 20:16.06 and the Blazers finished in third as a team scoring 133 points.

Meridian placed 4th as a team with 144 points and Kayla Aalpoel led the Trojans with her sixth place finish and time of 19:56.81.

Granite Falls' own Elizabeth Bassett was the Tigers only runner in the top 10 and to qualify for the state meet. She placed ninth overall with a time of 20:22.71.

The 1A State Championship meet will take place in Pasco, Washington at Sun Willows Golf Course Saturday, Nov. 3. The girls race will begin at 10:30 a.m..

Qualified Teams (including the runners)

Kings - Naomi Smith, Greta Gunning, Campbell Baker, Alexandra Christophilis, Jenae McInnes, Allie Fattizzi, Grace Hutchenson

The Northwest School - Macenna Hanson, Sasha Balaski, Haylie Bleakley-Harris, Lanie Rettig, Grace Patterson, Charlotte Howell, Maleda Sims

The Bush School - Ela Nickels, Lolo Dederer, Liya Micksovsky, Dylan Cundiff, Dalia Cape, Sabine Blumenthal

Meridian - Kayla Aalpoel, Kendyl Otter, Makenna Holz, Rubi Stuit, Cristian Esquivel, Kady Amot, Emma Forbes

South Whidbey - Kaia Swegler Richmond, Natalie Rodriguez, Flannery Friedman, Grace Huffman, Laila Gmerek, Grace Complita, Mary Moss

The Overlake School - Anya Sharma, Sophie Sharp, Annika Mihata, Liv Sather, Raini Bozarth, Jessica Colleran, Radha Iyer

Qualified Individuals

Bear Creek - Andrea Markezich, Olivia Markezich

Cedar Park Christian(Bothell) - Analia Johnson

Granite Falls - Elizabeth Bassett

Lynden Christian - Maya Ewing, Simone Veltkamp

Mount Baker - Juliette Haggith, Kali Cook, Zetta Schmidt

Nooksack Valley - Lily Snow, Selly Garcia

Seattle Academy - Olivia Shaw

University Prep - Olivia Poolos, Layli Egrari

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