Recap from the 2021 state cross country boys championships
PASCO - It was only a matter of time before two of the state's best runners would race each other this season. It only seemed fitting that it happened to be in the final cross country meet of their high school careers.
On Saturday at the Sun Willows Golf Course, the debate of who was No. 1 in Washington was finally tested between Kamiakin's Isaac Teeples and Olympia's Ethan Coleman. What was supposed to be the race of the year became one of the more unexpected ones -- Teeples winning by over 30 seconds.
The Kamiakin senior captured his second state cross country title, winning the boy's 4A race in 14 minutes, 57.80 seconds for the 5,000-meter race, becoming the first athlete in the new course era to break the 15-minute barrier.
"I think this was a huge win for me," said Teeples. "I was kind of a sleeper coming in, so I was just happy I could come out and give some fans some love."
Dating back to last spring, Coleman had defeated Teeples in three consecutive races -- one was a 5k on the track, and the two others were in the Olympia 3,200 and Brooks PR meet. In those races, Teeples struggled to stick with Coleman. This time around, he was right on his heels.
"I just wanted to sit right on him and see what he does," said Teeples. "My plan was to just gauge what he was doing from behind."
The two ran even with each other from the start crossing their first mile in 4:38, and then came through their second mile at 9:38.3. Coleman was just a few feet ahead, going into the final half of the race. And then the move happened.
With just a little over half a mile to go, Teeples made a move unlike any other, dropping Coleman on the uphill climb to take his first lead of the day. From there, Teeples never saw Coleman again until the finish line. The result was a 35-second victory.
"I said a little prayer, not going to lie," said Teeples. "Hills are my jam, so I threw in a surge and didn't look back."
Coleman, who had the No. 1 time in the state at 14:40, crossed the finish line in second place at 15:32.60, his highest placement ever at the state meet.
Teeples' teammate Grayson Wilcott managed to crack the top three, running 15:50.30 to finish in third.
"I've been having dreams about this since freshman year," said Wilcott. "Coming in, I knew I could get that third-place spot. Going up the hill with a mile left, I felt like the pace was slowing down, so I just went and figured this was the move that was going to get me third place."
Not only was Kamiakin able to seal two of the top three individual spots, but it also led them to claim their fourth consecutive state title scoring 81 points to beat out Issaquah by 45 points.
There were question marks about this year's Kamiakin group as to who would replace a vast core of seniors from their 2019 state title squad, which also qualified for Nike Cross Nationals. It was clear what the two seniors were capable of, but the three through seven runners were unknown to head coach Matt Rexus.
"Nobody wanted COVID to destroy the season, but we needed that whole year to grow as a team," said Rexus. "Most of these kids missed 12-18 months of normal training."
Athletes like Ezra Teeples, Jackson Johnson, Tanner Mills, Jackson Farris, and Adam Chan had never competed in state competition. They had either been in middle school or on Kamiakin's JV squad during the 2019 state title run.
In their first year of varsity running, those four can now say they are a part of the history of Kamiakin state title squads.
"This was one was the toughest to win just because of the youth of the back guys," said Rexus. "We knew if the top two guys would score a low number like five or less points, it was going to take a lot of pressure off the young guys. They kept on believing and kept on fighting."
Issaquah's Brennen Rickey led the second-place Eagles with a seventh-place run of 16:01.40.
Rounding out the top four teams in scoring was Eisenhower (3rd, 152 points) and Tahoma (4th, 168). Amha Almeneh was first for the Cadets placing 13th in 16:23.40, while Ryan Lewis crossed the finish line first for the Bears running 16:22.20 to place 12th.
Other top individual performances included Newport's (Bellevue) Sam Jacobsen (4th, 15:56.50), Eastlake's Ethan Pedersen (5th, 15:56.80), and Curtis' Maxim Serafimovici (6th, 15:57.50).
Schneider Leads Blanchet Back to Glory
All year long, Will Schneider and the Bishop Blanchet boys had one goal in mind -- win a state title. The top-ranked team in the state was able to get the job done for the first time in 17 years, scoring 88 points beating out Gig Harbor's 111.
"I think all the pieces came together for us this season," said Schneider. "It's great to see all our hard work pay off, especially after finishing second two years ago. I think that fueled the fire for the people returning to this year's team."
Four of Blanchet's runners finished within the top 20 individually to secure medals, including Schneider winning the overall title in a time of 15:17.10.
"Anything less than first place today, they would have been disappointed," said Blanchet head boys coach John O'Leary. "We were heavily favored back in 2000 when it was very windy, so memories like that were coming back, but our boys saw through with their resilience and enjoyed the challenge."
The head-to-head match-up between Schneider and Lakes' Cruize Corvin was the one to watch heading into Saturday's race as both of them had a win over the other at some point throughout the season and were familiar with each other racing schemes.
With that already in mind, Schneider had a plan to react to certain situations mid-race, but he did improvise a little just past the 1.5-mile mark.
"My coach and I talked about some spots where we can make a move, and I was able to make a move a half-mile earlier because I felt like that was the spot to go for it," said Schneider.
The other three Blanchet runners in the top 20 included Freshman of the Year Vincent Recupero (4th, 15:47.30), Tyler Graff (17th, 16:21.90), and Drew Oliver (19th, 16:25.90).
Arlington's Brandon Moore was second behind Schneider, coming in at 15:34.10, followed by Stadium's Luke Alfonso in third running 15:42.20. Walla Walla's Brody Hartley rounded out the top five, running 15:51.70.
Mead scored 158 points to take home the third-place trophy led by Brycen Gardner (8th, 16:07.90) and North Central finished fourth with 160 points led by Jonah Aden (13th, 16:18.60).
Selah's Quigley Goes Out a Champion
It was only a matter of time before Selah's Cooper Quigley would be standing atop the state podium. It seemed fitting that it would be in his final high school cross country race.
The 2A's No. 1 runner all year claimed his first state title, running a time of 15:38.30, becoming the first Selah athlete since James Currell in 2008 to accomplish the feat.
"This is what I've been training for since I started running," said Quigley. "I think it's always the goal for really anyone in high school to become a state champion. Without my coaches and some former teammates' help over the years, this wouldn't have been possible."
The Vikings also secured a second-place team trophy behind Quigley's efforts scoring 99 points, their highest placement in 31 years matching another runner-up finish. Eric Swedin also got on the podium with an eighth-place finish in 16:18.30.
Columbia River's Daniel Barna managed to close into second place, running 15:56.40 after trailing in fifth for most of the race. Sammamish's Hale Behan was third, running 16:00.40. Foster's Kidus Kassa was one of the day's biggest surprises, placing fourth in a personal best 16:06.50.
The Squalicum boys finally came away with a first-ever state championship win scoring 77 points and ending Sehome's long run of eight straight championships. The Storm was led by Owen Voigt's 19th place finish in a time of 16:56.80, and the team had an impressive nine-second five runner spread.
Sehome was third, scoring 124 points, as Kiefer Law was ninth for them, running 16:26.50. Will Giesen placed fifth in 16:13.40 to lead Bellingham to fourth, scoring 135 points.
Riverside's Distel Ends Legacy as 1A's Best
Two years ago, Riverside's Jamar Distel said he wanted to be the best there ever was. He got that exact wish his senior season.
The Riverside senior can now call himself a state champion after years of battling injuries as he ran a 1A course record time of 15:00.40 to claim this year's title.
“It sounds cliché, but it’s really the motto of not giving up,” Distel said. “I’ll have those setbacks and injuries, but as long as I never give up, nothing is impossible. Everyone says it, and it’s the truest thing I've ever heard.”
It was another solo effort for the top 1A runner as Distel closed in his first mile at 4:38.7, already 16 seconds ahead of the field, and by the end of the race won by 76 seconds over the second-place finisher.
“It’s all a mental game,” Distel said. “It may not help my racing tactics, but it definitely helps upstairs, which is far more important than any sort of racing tactic.”
Klahowya's Kelton Gagnon and Medical Lake's Reid Headrick battled to the end for second place, with Gagnon inching him at the line running 16:16.70. Northwest's Stephen Bleakley-Harris (4th, 16:17.40) and Port Townsend's Max Allworth-Miles (5th, 16:38.20) rounded out the top five.
Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) won their third consecutive 1A state title scoring 111 points behind the efforts of Hayden Blank (7th, 16:47.90) and Colby Splichal (13th, 17:18.80).
“I told the guys before the race, ‘You guys are going to run so fast,’ ” Lakeside head boys coach Steve Olsen said. “We had tapered for this week, and it made a huge difference between last week and this week.”
King's was second in the team standings scoring 136 points. Hiroto Nasu (9th, 16:57.50) and Staser Simpson (10th, 17:12.90) were the Knights' only podium finishers. Cascade (Leavenworth) finished in third with 147, followed by Medical Lake in fourth with 158.
Ilwaco's Quintana Repeats as 1B/2B Champion After Battling Tough Season
For Daniel Quintana, COVID wasn't kind to him. The Ilwaco senior caught the virus earlier this year, forcing him out of competition as well as running for a while.
"COVID just hit me really hard," said Quintana. "I was afraid to go out and run because I was feeling so weak."
It took some time to get back into running again and some encouragement from his coaches. However, like any athlete faced with adversity, Quintana was able to rise when the 1B/2B state meet rolled around quickly. His efforts won him his second state title.
Battling back and forth with Liberty Bell's Will Halpin till the final downhill stretch, Quintana was able to throw in one last surge at the end to cross the finish line at 16:30.90. He joins Asotin's Chander Tiegen and Adna's Austen Apperson as the only athletes to win multiple state titles in the 1B/2B state era.
"(Haplin) gave me a really good fight," said Quintana, who was seeded 15th going into the meet based on season times. "When I was right next to him, I felt good and thought I could keep up the pace and speed up a little bit during the race if I needed to."
Haplin, who ran a second-place time of 16:36.90, led Liberty Bell to their first state title since 1998 as the Mountain Lions scored 50 points to defeat top-ranked Pope John Paul II.
"I felt confident about our boy's ability to run as a pack," said Liberty Bell head boys coach Erik Brooks. "It seemed like on a day like today, our third, fourth, and fifth runners were going to be super important, and sure enough, we were able to have a great race after mixing it up with Pope John Paul and St. George's."
Pope John Paull II finished with 96 points as Trevor Dugo led the way with a sixth-place run in a time of 16:59.10. Chewelah was third with 107 points, and St. George's was fourth with 115.
For more results from the 2021 Boy's State Cross Country Championships, click here.
For more photos from the meet's action, click here.