Island XC stars head to State, led by Belkin

SEATTLE – At Lake Sammamish State Park last weekend, the Bainbridge High School boys cross country team upset Seattle Prep, the Metro League champion, to win their way to the state championship in Pasco on Saturday, Nov. 4.

Interlake and Redmond, ranked one and two in the state, respectively, were first and second at the SeaKing District meet, followed by Ballard, the Metro runner-up, then Bainbridge and Franklin, said BHS Head Coach Anne Howard Lindquist.

The team was again led by junior Sebastian Belkin, who became the first Bainbridge runner ever to win the SeaKing District Championship, following up on his Metro Championship last week.

Patiently running both of his first two miles of the 5K course at a fast but steady 5:07 pace, Lindquist said Belkin passed all 20 runners who were ahead of him at the 1-mile mark and then calmly accelerated into a 4:57 final mile to finish in 15:43.2, opening up a 10-second gap over the chasing pack from Franklin, Interlake and Redmond.

Fellow juniors Carter Hall (16:29), Carlo Ruggiero (16:31) and Nathan McVay (16:55) all pushed hard in the last mile to race their fastest 5Ks ever, securing the team’s invitation to state.

For the final scoring spot, Elliott Windrope finished inches ahead of surging Sean Lindsey (both 17:18), while captain Ben Cibula, the only senior on this young team, matched his personal record of 17:55. Overall, the 2017 team’s average 5K time was 16:35, second only to the school record 16:23 set by the 2015 team in Pasco.

On the girls side, senior captain Anna Scott, a repurposed soccer player in just her second cross country season, won a coveted individual spot at state for the second consecutive year, finishing in an excitingly dense pack — one of four girls within 1/10th of a second. Her 19:52.72 was the eighth fastest Bainbridge time ever at Sammamish — 35 seconds faster than she ran the same course at the Bellevue Invitational last month.

Though not securing a berth at state, the rest of the girls team (Adalynn Griesser, Natalie Taylor, Emma Brundige, Lauren Wallach, Eleanor Collins, Lydia Goss) competed well.

In her last BIXC competition, senior captain Griesser raced to a season’s best 20:35.

Rapidly improving sophomore Collins finished in 21:33 — 14 seconds faster than her personal record at Metro last week.

Senior Lauren Wallach culminated an outstanding cross country career: her 21:46 was 20 seconds faster than her Metro Championship PR, and almost 5 minutes faster than she ran as a freshman.

As Scott, Belkin, and the rest of boys team — including alternates Jason Weiss and Sean Westerhout — head east to the state championship, the coach said she is upbeat about their chances.

“Though anything can happen,” she said, “I think a calm and confident Anna will run her best race, steady Sebastian should end up somewhere in the group up front, and the boys team has a good shot at a top ten finish. It will be an exciting day for BIXC.”

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