Bishop Blanchet, the state’s second-place ranked 3A cross country team, almost completely dominated the District 2 SeaKing (combined Metro and Kingco Leagues) Championship at Lake Sammamish on Nov. 2, taking four of the top five spots.
But Bainbridge High junior Sean Westerhout prevented a clean sweep with a gutsy second-place place finish, moving up from eighth place at the Metro Championship, as he beat all but one of the five Blanchet harriers who came into the race with faster PRs (personal records).
Determined to go out aggressively on the twisty, muddy course, Westerhout led the field at the 1-mile mark (4:55), just ahead of the eventual winner, Blanchet senior Kai Gundlach, the fourth-place 3A runner in the state.
That strategy had a price, though.
“I was really exhausted in the last mile,” Westerhout admitted, especially after a long stretch in the soft sand of the lake’s beach.
But he held pace to set a 7-second PR (16:05), finishing 8 seconds ahead of Blanchet’s William Schneider, who at Metros had beaten him by 15 seconds.
Only one Spartan, two-time district champion Sebastian Belkin, has ever run the Sammamish course faster, according to team officials.
Behind Westerhout, the young Bainbridge harriers were the 10th of a dozen teams, with most finishing well ahead of their district rankings, but without PRs on this challenging course, officials said.
After crossing the first mile mark toward the back of the field, sophomore Alex Miller and freshman Will Browning both gradually passed about 20 runners in the rest of the race, with Miller finishing in 17:19, Browning in 17:49.
Sophomore Mace Korytko also worked his way up to finish just under 18 minutes, while seniors Micah Glasby, Garrett Peterson, and Reuben Allen slipped back a little after coming through the first mile in a fast, tight pack.
Junior Cassidy Parr, the only female Spartan who qualified for the SeaKing Championship, also turned in an outstanding, career-best performance, cutting her PR time by 32 seconds (20:43) for 37th overall, 11 places ahead of her Metro finish.
“This tops off a season of huge improvements for Cassidy.” said BHS Assistant Coach Paul Benton, “cutting more than 2 minutes off last year’s PR and coming within two spots of qualifying for State. With her leading by example, our girls team should get back to the district championship next year, maybe further.”
However, this year it was only Westerhout heading to Pasco on Nov. 9, looking to substantially improve on his 66th place finish (16:56) at State in 2018.
“He’s looking fresh and has growing confidence,” said BHS Head Coach Anne Howard Lindquist.
“We won’t be surprised if he again beats a lot of runners who think they are faster than he is,” she added.