Sports

Spartan harriers fly over the home sod

Spartan Hillary Pritchett crosses the finish line at the Battle Point Park during the girls cross country meet, taking second place with a time of 19:44. Overall, the Bainbridge girls team took first place besting the Lakeside Lions and Bishop Blanchet Braves on Wednesday.  - JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo
Spartan Hillary Pritchett crosses the finish line at the Battle Point Park during the girls cross country meet, taking second place with a time of 19:44. Overall, the Bainbridge girls team took first place besting the Lakeside Lions and Bishop Blanchet Braves on Wednesday.
— image credit: JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo

Caroline Johnson sets the pace; the girls now are ranked fourth in state polls.

If the Bainbridge girls cross country team keeps up this pace, they’ll add some serious hardware to their trophy case.

The Spartans, now ranked fourth in the state in the latest WSCCCA poll, took five of the top six spots to easily outscore the Lakeside Lions and the Bishop Blanchet Braves Wednesday at Battle Point Park.

Caroline Johnson wore the shoes of Hermes as she finished first with a time of 19:14. Hillary Pritchett was second with a time of 19:44 and Emily Farrar took third in 19:51.

Spartan head coach Dean Tarbill said its the first race Johnson’s run as well as he knows she can.

“We took her aside and we had to make sure that mentally that she had to go out and quit worrying about running to beat somebody and run your race that you’ve been trained to run,” he said. “She had a great stride, and when she gets concerned about if she’s going to get second, I think she starts shortening her stride.

“She ran a real strong race and I think (her) time was an exceptional time.”

Johnson said she felt great, as she has been getting back into shape after being sick early in the season.

“I finally got to sleep early last night at 9 o’clock, so I had lots of energy for today,” she said, admitting that for the past two races, she hasn’t been able to hit the sack until 11 p.m. due to nerves and homework.

She’s impressed with her team’s success this year, and thinks they can get to State.

“We’re doing really well,” she said. “Definitely we’ll end up going to State with our team. We just need to keep getting stronger.”

Michelle Yates was fifth with a time of 20:44 and Emelie VanVleet was sixth with 20:47.

Other top placers for Bainbridge were Molly O’Keefe in 16th with21:34 and Jamie Huggler in 17th with 21:39. The times were good enough to help the Spartans score 17 points. Blanchet finished with 42 and Lakeside finished with 85.

Despite the injuries — Yates is suffering from intestinal problems and Callie McKenzie didn’t run because of a severe lower calf bruise – Tarbill hopes they’ll make it to Pasco.

“I think that we should get there,” he said. “Barring injuries or us overtraining them or alienating them, they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them.

“I tell them two things: you want to place or p.r. (set a personal record) every time. That’s a goal, and almost every race, the girls are improving.”

The boys had a more difficult time, as they finished third with 60 points. Blanchet was first with 32 points while Lakeside was second with 38.

Joel Turkheimer was the top finisher for Bainbridge, placing fourth with a time of 16:22. Bevan Taylor was sixth with a time of 16:35.

Other top finishers for the Spartans were Max Welch in 11th with 17:06, Ian Shiach in 21st with 17:53 and Collin Schulze in 23rd place with 17:57.

Turkheimer felt that he ran a good race, but knew it would be difficult to overcome the talent on both teams, as Blanchet has won three 3A state titles since 2000 including last year and Lakeside is the fifth ranked team in the state.

He also said the course gave them a bit of trouble, as the layout was changed from last year.

“It was fast,” he said. “It was kinda confusing because I didn’t know it as well as I knew the old one.”

Despite the level of competition his charges were up against, Tarbill said he’s happy with the boys’ performance.

“I keep saying this, and it (sounds like) a broken record, but they’re really (doing great),” he said. “They take the training well and they’re a real cohesive team.”

While the top seven teams will make it to Districts, Turkheimer said his team were “a year or two” away from really making any noise.

“I think we got a lot of people who are looking pretty good, but they need to improve,” he said. “In a year or two we can look at qualifying, but it’s a real competitive league.”

The boys and girls were competitive last Thursday as both teams defeated Seattle Prep and Eastside Catholic.

At the Mt. Baker Invitational last Saturday, the boys finished 11th, while the girls took fourth.

Bainbridge will take part in the Fort Warden Invitational today in Port Townsend.

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