Updated: Oct 4, 2018
Marysville, WA - The Nike Twilight Invite is unlike any other cross country meet here in the state of Washingotn. With the opportunity to run at night with lights all over the Cedarcrest golf course, this invite is one of the best for both competition and enjoyment by all those who compete in the races, and for those who watch these high schoolers run.
For me, it was definitely one of my favorite races in high school, but unfortunately I was only able to run in it my senior year. But coming back to it brought back so many memories of the fun and excitement of racing. Once again, the 2018 annual invite was one for the books.
The varsity races were split up into 2 separate runs, with schools ranging from 1B-2A classfication in one and 3A-4A classification in the other.
In the first race of the evening, the 1B-2A boys race was a tight contest from the beginning to the finish. Port Townsend's own Nathan Crantell pulled off a come from behind win in 16:26.80 passing Steilacoom's Zach Koivisto, who ran 16:28.50, on the final homestretch. At one point during the race, Crantell wasn't even at the front or remotely close at all.
"I wanted to go out slow and not too fast," said Crantell. "I didn't want to die going into the 2nd mile so that way I could progress up in the race and pass people."
With under a mile to go, Crantell became fatigued but he said could see the 2nd place runner in front of him who also was starting to become exhausted. He would eventually pass him and then it came down between him and Koivisto from Steilacoom.
"Once I ran by the 2nd place guy, I was seeing how long I could push myself until I caught the guy in 1st. I finally caught him on the last part of the race. Wasn't sure how much I beat him by, but I won."
1st place team Sammamish scored 118 points beating out 2nd place University Prep (130) out of Seattle and 3rd place Steilacoom (152).
The 3A-4A boys race was another competitive race that night with the majority of the runners sticking together for the first 2 miles. Woodinville's Luke Houser came into this meet with the mental approach of attacking the hill before the 2 mile mark, with the idea that he needed to push through it to have a shot at winning the race.
"Coming into the race I wanted to push at the 2 mile mark," said Houser. "The other guy that was with me, I think he was trying to do the same thing because we were in such a big race that we needed to separate ourselves from the pack."
Houser and Jesuit's Jack Bennett did push their leads with a mile left, but it would be Houser who had more left in the tank as he went onto win in a time of 15:32.00. Bennett would finish 3rd in 15:39.40 after being passed by Bainbridge's Sebastian Belkin, who placed 2nd in 15:38.2.
Houser said he was pleased about his placing and time because of the strong finished he had at the of the race.
Jesuit High School from Portland, Oregon did win as team scoring 63 points despite Bennett not getting the individual win. Edmonds-Woodway was 2nd with 87 points and Martin Luther King from Riverside, California was 3rd with 102 points.
Moving to the girl's meet starting with the 1B-2A race. If you were at the end of this race, you might have been confused as to seeing the winning runner finish twice. Well, the girl who won the race also has a twin that placed 2nd behind her.
Bear Creek's Andrea and Olivia Markezich went 1-2 for the Grizzlies with Andrea taking the win in 17:58.50, the fastest girl's time of the day. Olivia was 10 seconds behind her sister as she ran 18:08.20. Olivia wanted to hang on with her sister for the race because of her great racing strategy.
"My game plan was to run with Andrea because I know she goes out at a really good pace," said Olivia. "The idea was to see how fast I could go and to see how long I could hang on with her."
Andrea had a winning mindset coming into the race and nothing was going to stop her from achieving that feat.
"The ultimate goal coming into today was to win the race and break 18 minutes," said Andrea. "I just wanted to stay true to that and make it happen."
One runner I was surprised to not see in the same race as the Markezich twins in fact moved up to the 3A-4A race with the idea of racing against some fast girls from some bigger name schools like Jesuit, Glacier Peak, and Lake Stevens. However, it might have been better for this individual to have run in the smaller school race because it was indeed faster.
The tiniest runner in the entire meet in fact blew away the competition. King's High School's Naomi Smith won the large school race in 18:10.60, 6 seconds faster than 2nd place but 20 seconds faster than 3rd.
"I didn't really have a game plan going into the race," said Smith. "I just expected to be drug out by the other girls."
When Smith hit the first mile of the race, she realized she was the one setting the pace, not the other competitors.
"I realized I wasn't behind anyone at the half point mark and in fact I was leading the pack. So, I decided to just go out and see what I could do. Ended up winning so that's how it went."
Finishing in 2nd was Jesuit's Makenna Schumacher and her team placed 1st overall in the big school race scoring 46 points. Vista Murrieta from Murrieta, California was 2nd with 65 points and Glacier Peak was 3rd with 115 points.
For more results, visit: https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/Results/Meet.aspx?Meet=144223&show=all
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For photos from this invite, visit: https://zimbugphotography.smugmug.com/High-School-Sports/Cross-Country/2018-Cross-Country/Nike-Twilight-Invitational/
The Runner will travel down to Lakewood High School for the 2018 Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational for the Invite of the week. Majority of the schools in attendance at this meet will be there next Saturday.