A new course, a modified race and plenty of mud were among the hurdles the Bainbridge boys and girls cross country teams faced Saturday, but their final meet of the season was mostly smooth sailing at Battle Point Park.
The Bainbridge boys swept the top five spots against Bremerton while the girls mostly raced among themselves as the Knights do not field a full girls team. But the boys and girls were able to run together in packs instead of staggered times for the two races, and it led to better results.
“There was way more competition; we had a good pack,” junior Lucy King said.
King raced neck-and-neck with teammate and fellow junior Eden Michael most of the way, but always had someone to chase with the boys running up ahead. Michael’s time of 19 minutes, 42.4 seconds and King’s 19:42.8 were the two fastest 5K times ever for a Bainbridge girl on that course, beating the previous record by 44 seconds. Those times are also good for sixth and seventh among the fastest 5Ks run on any course by a Bainbridge girl.
And the course wasn’t easy. Battle Point usually sees its yearly cross country meet in October, rather than February, so the course was redesigned to avoid sections full of water. But recent rains left the course muddy and soggy; most runners came across the finish line with mud all over their uniforms.
“It’s that second mile, once you come off the path,” Bainbridge sophomore Aaron Ramirez said. “It’s really muddy.”
But the changes were well received. The runners were happy to have more packs, and Ramirez said the course was “really fun” despite the conditions.
Ramirez was the top finisher in the boys race, finishing with a time of 17:46.8, the third-fastest time among the six schools that ran the course that day. He and teammate Alex Miller ran most of the race together, until Miller fell back with stomach cramps.
“I started off a little fast, and I was sticking with Alex,” Ramirez said. “When we were coming around that hill the second time, we started to drop, and I passed him up on that hill.”
Miller gutted it out and still finished second. His 18:56.6 mark was just three-tenths of a second ahead of Bainbridge freshman Bodie Strom. Abe Cole was just behind those two with a time of 18:58.8, and Nick Grant was fifth in 19:31.2.
Rounding out the five scorers for the girls were Lily Curtis (third, 21:28.9), Cassidy Parr (fourth, 21:31.8) and Liliana Pohl (fifth, 22:00.5).
The season isn’t over yet for the Bainbridge cross country team. Battle Point is set to host the JV and varsity championships. Times are yet to be determined, but the JV race was set for Wednesday, while the varsity race is scheduled for Saturday. Bainbridge is also set to compete in a virtual state championship in coming weeks.
For the athletes, it means another week of practice and more chances to be outside with friends rather than cooped up inside in front of a computer screen.