On the grassy hills of the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, Bainbridge High School junior harrier Sean Westerhout flew past his week-old 5K personal record, racing to an 11th-place finish in the 3A State Cross Country Championship.
He was the sole Spartan representing BHS at the state meet Nov. 9.
Ranked 33rd entering the race, Westerhout came through the first mile in 29th place (5:02).
In the second mile, he moved up to 17th place by maintaining a steady pace (5:08), then in the last mile (5:03 average) pushed past half a dozen more of the state’s best runners to capture 11th place in 15:46.4 — a huge 19 second personal record, according to team officials.
Westerhout’s strong race puts him second on the BHS men’s 5k list — a half a tick faster than Ryan Cox’s 15:46.8 of 2015.
Sebastian Belkin is the only Spartan who has run a faster 5K time on that course (or any other), having managed 15:22.
“Sean’s enthusiasm and committed training have come through this season,” said BHS Head Coach Anne Howard Lindquist. “He’s broken his PR five times this season. That was an incredibly smart race at State, with his strongest second mile ever. And our time-trial guys, the day before, were inspiring too.”
Westerhout placed 66th at the state meet last year, as part of an eighth-place team finish.
“[I] definitely started out toward the back for the first mile, then moved my way up with Fred [Lui, of Lakeside] through the second mile,” Westerhout said.
“The last mile, I just tried to hold onto my place and not lose any ground. My secret to success was keeping in sight the Bishop Blanchet runners throughout the second and third miles.”
Hopes were high from the start, officials said, but the results were even better than expected.
“We knew he would improve last year’s strong state performance (66th in 16:56) because he had already set three strong PRs this season — 16:27 at the Bellevue Invitational, 16:12 at Hole-in-Wall [and] 16:05 at the district championship,” said Assistant Coach Paul Benton.
“But we didn’t anticipate him taking down Ryan’s record. He ran a really fast, don’t-let-up race, and seemed to have fun doing it. And he’s still a junior. We can’t wait til next year,” Benton added.
Westerhout is a cerebral athlete, Lindquist said, from a strong stock of competitors.
“His take on competitive running has evolved every season in his young career,” she said. “He’s a diversely talented athlete, who’s competed in mountain biking, soccer, tennis, golf — and likely other sports I don’t know.
“His older brother Schuyler also ran [cross country], and, not surprisingly, his parents are strong athletes, too.”
Nine of Westerhout’s teammates, traveling with him to Pasco for support and experience, raced in an informal time trial the day before the meet, with three of them setting PRs: Mace Korytko (17:34, a 5-second PR), Trout Boback (17:59, 8-second PR), and Alec Stauffer (19:58, 30-second PR).