Bellingham - On a day in Bellingham at Civic Stadium filled with dumping rain and high winds, Whatcom County distance runners seemed to be right at home with the conditions yesterday in the annual Birger Solberg Invite hosted by Sehome High School.
While most coaches were able to go into heated rooms during the cold day, the athletes were all bundled up in blankets and jackets in the stands as they sat and waited to compete in their events.
2k Steeplechase the Highlight of the Day
The first race of the day probably drew the most attention as 18 boys and 9 girls ran in the 2000 meter steeplechase. Some of the competitors in the race have some experience running in this event, while others were just trying to climb over the barriers to keep going.
On the boys' side, Michael Cepowski of South Whidbey came from behind to beat Curtis senior Brody Sodon in the last 100 meters, winning in a time of 6:48.43. Lynden's Josiah Diacogiannis and Nooksacks Arlin Holder placed 13th and 14th for the County's top spots.
In the girl's race, Kamiak's Alicia Anderson won her 2nd consecutive Birger Solberg 2000 meter steeplechase ran in 7:29.25. Nooksack's Alyce Harlan seemed to be enjoying the entire race and stormed back from 5th place to finish in 2nd place with a time of 7:52.75 in her first ever steeplechase.
Another unique distance event featured on Saturday was the 4 x 800 meter relay. The Henry Jackson boys and Anacortes girls would claim both of those 1st place finishes.
Isaiah Ellis and Lucas Cunningham Finish 2nd in 1600 Races
What started off as a very fast race for the Frosh/Soph level stayed that way as Issac Cortes of Granite Falls won in a time of 4:34.94, beating Lynden's Isaiah Ellis (4:35.53) for the top spot. Nooksack Valley's Logan Clabaugh (4:47.91) was the only other Whatcom County competitor in the race to finish in the top 10.
In the boy's varsity 1600 meter race, from the get go the race went back and forth with the top 5 runners leading at one point during the race. Henry Jackson's Jospeh Skoog in the end took 1st in 4:33.8. Sehome's Lucas Cunningham took 2nd with a time of 4:36.07, a personal best for him.
Due to high winds, Cunningham was forced to pack in the lead group the first couple of laps before making any moves.
"I was just trying to tuck in and run smart for the first couple of laps." said Cunningham after his race. "It definitely went out really slow but it helped that my teammate took it out to create some separation."
With about 500 meters to go is when Cunningham finally made his move to separate himself from the 3rd and 4th place position. Sehome's other top finisher was Tadeusz Pforte finishing 4th.