Trojans Take Down Pumas

Langley, WA - Two of the top three boys teams in the 1A state rankings battled at the District one and two cross country meet at South Whidbey High School Saturday, Oct. 27, with the Meridian Trojans beating the University Prep Pumas 72-77.

Photo courtesy of Meridian High School.

Senior's Abbas Theophilus (16:46.12) and Jaskaran Dhatt (16:53.22) finished second and third for Meridian. Theophilus had a shot at winning the individual district championship but fell back from first with 400 meters to go.

Theophilus and Dhatt had been Meridian's second and third runner all year behind teammate senior Nathan Schneider (17:12.87), who finished seventh despite dealing with hamstring injuries in both his legs.

"Those boys have been putting in the work for the last two and a half years," said head coach Mike Holz. "Both Jaskaran and Abbas stepped up for their team and I thought they might have had a shot to place first and second."

To advance to the state meet is a challenge in this Bi-District since the majority of the schools are ranked in the states top 10. Winning the district team title, that is even more impressive according to coach Holz, especially in the scenario they were in.

"We just wanted to survive and advance today. We have had some kids injured, so it was more about a team effort today rather than anyone individual."

University Prep followed the Trojans top three runners with three of their own. Nick McHugh (17:20.01) was the Pumas best finisher placing 8th overall, followed by Arie Smidt (17:26.06) in 13th and Max Lagunoff (17:28.32) in 15th.

Jenson Ellars (17:32.33) from Meridian and Ailey Birkeland (17:33.2) from University Prep were their teams fourth runner. Ellars placed 16th and Birkeland placed 17th.

Birkeland was part of another group of three Pumas that could have potentially helped the Pumas win the team title, but it was Kobe Koivisto (45th, 18:24.50) from Meridian who impacted the scoring.

"Kobe probably had a lot of fear going into today because of knee injuries. I was really impressed with him running his all-time best on probably the hardest course we will run all year. He definitely has a shot at breaking 18 minutes at state, which would could potentially put our team on the podium again this year."

Three more teams will join the Trojans and Pumas at state. South Whidbey and King's from the North Sound League were third and fifth and The Northwest School from the Emerald City League was forth.

Granite Falls Isaac Cortes won the individual title running a time of 16:37.27 after coming in as the sixth seeded runner in the Bi-District.

"When we started, the first mile was a lot slower than I thought," Cortes said. "Soon as I knew it, I had to get to the front of the pack. Basically it was just me and the two other guys from Meridian."

Cortes was behind both Theophilus and Dhatt with 800 meters to go in the race. He would eventually surge around the two with 600 to go.

"I wanted to be in good position to win before I got to the track, so I went in front of them and started to accelerate so I could build my lead. They didn't respond and I kicked it to the end."

South Whidbey's Callahan Yale (17:00.97) and Michael Cepowski (17:11.66) were the Falcons only runners in the top 10 placing fourth and sixth.