The Bainbridge High School girls varsity cross country team scored a fifth-place finish at the recent SeaKing District 2-3A Championship meet at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle, earning themselves a trip to the 2016 Washington Interscholastic Activities Association State Championship meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco this weekend.
It is the first time BHS girls are set to appear at state since 2012.
The Bainbridge boys team struggled a bit, but pulled through enough to finish in the top 10. Sophomore Sebastian Belkin (31st place, 16:43.00) will move on, the sole Spartan fella to score a shot at state.
“It’s a tough crowd up front at districts,” BHS Head Coach Anne Howard Lindquist said in the wake of the meet. “We hope to see Sebastian’s backups ripping through a fast time trial next Friday in Pasco.”
The girls, she added, were “getting faster every day.”
“This confidently competitive, relaxed and determined team of returning varsity and new runners created our first-ever, all seven sub-21 [minute] Metro League performance,” she said of the top finishing girls. “With the closest running pack in the district, this team knows how to key off each other for success.”
In fact, BHS sent to districts its overall fastest teams in both gender groups, Lindquist said, “with the tightest packs [first through seventh] ever, and, of course, a fantastic group of experienced racers and supportive teammates.”
The girls finished fifth on the 5,000-meter track, with an overall team score of 180. Holy Names Academy led the pack (62), with Ballard (142) in second, Redmond (144) in third, and Lake Washington (170) in fourth.
Trailing BHS were teams from Bishop Blanchet, Ingraham, North Central, Mercer Island, Garfield, Eastside Catholic, Lakeside (Seattle), Kamiakin and Roosevelt.
HNA’s Jordan Oakes, a senior, was the fastest individual girl, finishing in 17:37.20.
Senior Spartan speedster Audrey Weaver led the Bainbridge bunch, finishing in 26th place with 19:46.60.
Behind her was junior Anna Scott (43rd place, 20.04.90), senior Naomi von Ruden (49th, 20:09.40), sophomore Natalie Taylor (51st, 20:13.40), junior Adalynn Griesser (52nd, 20:13.40) and senior Jackie McVay (70th, 20:35.50).
The Spartan win was keyed by the break-out run of Weaver, team officials said, whose 19:46 was another 19 seconds faster than her strong 20-second personal record (PR) set just a week earlier at the Metro Championship. Weaver raced the Woodland Park course faster than any BIXC girl has done since 2005, and tied Signe Lindquist’s girls record for the 7th fastest 5K ever — on any course.
Beating Bishop Blanchet by two points was a classic “pack” win for Bainbridge, coaches said. While Weaver and Scott ran exceptionally well, the Brave’s top two runners were still several places ahead.
But with Griesser and Taylor crossing the line together just four seconds behind von Ruden, the Spartan’s third through fifth runners finished in a pack, five seconds ahead of Blanchet’s third through fourth-place runners and 10 seconds ahead of their fifth. That same combination of strengths (fast leaders with a compact group close behind) also explains how Bainbridge beat eight other state-worthy teams, they said, and it bodes well for their chances in Pasco.
The Bainbridge boys earned 10th place with a team score of 239. North Central claimed the top spot with 33, Kamiakin the second with 82 and Interlake finished third with 130. BHS beat out teams from Roosevelt, Ingraham, Franklin and Bellevue.
Behind Belkin, the next best BHS boys were senior Jacob Carlson (53rd place, 17:03.50), sophomore Carlo Ruggiero (61st, 17:12.50), sophomore Nathan McVay (68th, 17:18.50) and sophomore Elliot Windrope (79th, 17:26.40).
The top finisher in the boys division overall was Garfield’s William Laird, a senior, who managed first place with 15:59.40.
It was a week of achievements, Lindquist said Monday in an email sent to the entire Spartan squad.
“Several big goals were successfully reached by our racers at last Thursday’s district championships, where many of the fastest teams in the state competed for the top seven team places and top 49 individual places in order to get to the state championships.”
Other goals still remain out there for another race, another time, she added: “It’s always good to have something to chase.
“We didn’t quite make the dream goal of having both varsity teams race on the Sun Willows golf course,” she explained. “We did find out what the best competition in the state looks like, and what we could most definitely aspire to with some consistent work and long term thinking over the next couple years.
“Our team has been consistent all season in taking care of each other, being supportive and responsible. This was very true at districts and will again be in action with an excellent group of runners as support team for state meet participants.”
Lindquist said she and her assistant coaches, “have been impressed with the long term commitment, camaraderie, and focus of this group of girls, and now they’ve shown they’re competitive with the state’s best. All along we’ve thought they — and Sebastian too — would be racing their fastest at the end of the season and that’s what our state runners plan to do at the championship on Nov. 5.”