YAKIMA - The Kamiakin boys went on to win six of the seven varsity races and claim the team title for a third year in a row at Franklin Park this past Saturday, October 5, at the 46th Annual Sunfair Invitational.
The state's top program fell short of their expectations last weekend at the Bellevue Invite according to head coach Maxx Rexus despite the fact all of his runners placed well in each respective race.
With the disappointment of last week, Rexus challenged his boys team this past week and made it one of the most instense of the season. Judging by how each individual ran at Franklin Park, you would have never guessed.
"For them to come out and do what they just did today, it blew me away," said Rexus after the meet.
"Our number one priority is to stay humble, keep training hard, and try to be healthy when we step up to the line. They exceeded my expectations today and went for it."
What Rexus is most proud of though was the fact each one of his varsity runners would stand in line after their race and shake hands with their opponents and tell them "good job" or "great race."
Rexus comments, "We want to be remembered as good people too and not just good runners."
The 3A's best runner, Isaac Teeples, ran the fastest time of the day for the Braves finishing in second place in the Varsity No. 1 race with a new personal best of 15:12.5 for the challenging three mile course.
Stanford Smith was the top performer of the six winners from Kamiakin in the Varsity No. 2 race running a time of 15:21.34.
With high hopes coming into this year's race after a defeat last season, Smith gained a lot of confidence from his win.
"I felt really good coming into it and knew I had a solid chance to win it," said Smith.
"Last year, I lost this same race and I was bummed out about it. But, it fueled me up for today and it was exciting just because it was fun. It's not everyday you get a win, so it was really excited to have that."
Along with Smith, the five other winners were Grayson Wilcott (15:46.4), Andrew Larson (15:57.5), Andrew Holladay (16:07.6), Jax Weide (16:22.1), and Jonathan Lagonegro (16:27.8).
After another successful meet, the Braves get their first test of the season when they head to Spokane for the Tracy Walters Invite where they will face North Central and Rogers of Spokane in be a pre-district meet match-up.
With both North Central and Rogers running on a hot streak as of lately, coach Rexus knows his boy's will have to bring it next week if they want to come out on top, as well as set the tone for the district meet in the near future.
"Hopefully we will be able to duplicate what we did here," said Rexus.
"Those teams are running really well right now. North Central's top three have been phenomenal all year and their next four are moving up as well, and Rogers' one through seven are so close together. If we take them for granted, we will be paying for it later. But they all make us better."
Eisenhower's Jonas Price final Sunfair Invite landed in his favor as he went on to win the Varisty No. 1 race in a time of 14:56.21.
With a long, continuous sprint to start the race, Price was not alone as fellow Columbia Basin opponent, West Valley's Brayden Packard, was right on his heals. By the cheering of the Rams cross country team, Price was able to use that as motivation to go even faster.
"I think I went through 2:17 for my first 800," said Price with a smile. "But once we hit the terraces, he wasn't there with me anymore, and that's when I started to fade so I just tried my best to hang on."
In an attempt to break another course record in Washington for a third consecutive week, Price fell short by eight seconds of Mead's Matt Davis, who ran 14:48 in 1993.
Breaking a course record would have been nice, but it was more about one last time running on his home turf and getting a win for the state's top runner.
"It was honestly the best I ever gave out there," said Price on his performance.
"I couldn't have asked for anything better. I went out at the right time when I needed to, just couldn't quite hold it on. Other than that, it was a great race for me even though I didn't get the all-time course record. I still think it's a blessing to break 15 on this course."
All over the state, everyone knows who this kid is. But on a national level, not as much, and Price's win makes a huge statement to the entire country.
"I'm tired of people not knowing who I am," said Price. "This season, I wanted to take out every race and get all the records I can. I just want to leave a big footprint on my senior year, and make a national statement."
West Valley's Packard was third in the Varsity No. 1 race running a time of 15:49.49 and teammate Ben Connell placed second running 16:21.22 in the Varsity No. 2 race.
Geraldin Correa of Kennewick pulled away from a late come back by Ellensburg's Leah Holmgren as she ran the fastest time of the day, 18:14.64, on the girl's side in the Varsity No. 1 race for the win.
A couple of weeks ago, Correa had come from behind at the Shadle Park Invite beating Colville's Alaina Stone. History appeared to repeat itself again, except this time it wouldn't have been in her favor.
"I felt confident and ran a smart race," said Correa.
"I was getting a little bit tired with the hills but the other team was screaming the girl's name so I knew she was right behind me and so I had to stay on pace and then pick it up."
Top 2A runners Holmgren and Bellingham's Livi Lackland Henry placed second and third in the Varsity No. 1 race running times of 18:21.05 and 18:25.37.
Ellenburg's Kate Laurent came in second in the Varsity No. 2 race running a time of 19:17.46 behind Canby from Oregon, Jennifer Torres, who ran 19:08.94.
Unlike the other races going on throughout the day, this was by far the closest one for the entire time as Laurent battled with Torres all three miles.
"(Torres) definitely pushed me and I could hear her breathing the whole time," said Laurent on racing. "She was doing great and it was really important that she stayed with me. If I had run by myself, I wouldn't have got the time I wanted."
Wapato had a pair of first place finishers with Crystal Colin (19:32.37) in the Varsity No. 5 race and Isabela Alvarado (20:11.69) in the Varsity No. 7 race.
Rounding out the other winners were Bellingham's Skye Saling (21:17.5) in the Varsity No. 6 race and Kennewick's Lauren Thompson (20:09.3) in the Varsity No. 4 race.
For more results from this invite, visit: https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/156809/results
For more photos from this invite, visit our Facebook page.