Cross country: Wildcat girls finish first; King wins boys race

Using a pack mentality, the Oak Harbor girls cross country team defeated Lake Stevens and Lynnwood Thursday, Sept. 30, at Windjammer Park in the Wildcats’ only home meet of the fall.

The lone Wolf, Coupeville’s Tyler King, won the boys race, and Oak Harbor finished second to Lake Stevens.

Viking runners took the top two spots in the girls race, then a mass of Wildcats snared the next seven to lead Oak Harbor to a 25-36 win over Lake Stevens. Lynnwood was a distant third with 85.

Running in a pack was the strategy of the day, according to Oak Harbor assistant coach Andy Wesley. Although it slowed the top Wildcat runners, it pulled along to some of the others to their best times of the season.

Abby Leete, Allison Duvenez and Adrianna Royal finished third through fifth, and all received the same time, 19:01, in the 2.75 mile race. Christina Wicker and Hannah Bressler ran 19:02 for sixth and seventh, and Alex Laiblin(19:04)and Olivia Meyer(19:18)grabbed eighth and ninth. Lake Stevens’ Cia Bywater won in 18:15.

Wesley said, “We will cut them loose this weekend.” The Wildcats travel to the Mount Baker Invitational at Silver Lake Park in Maple Falls at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.

There the ‘Cats will see some of their toughest competition of the season, including the state’s top ranked 2A team, Sehome. Oak Harbor is ranked seventh in 3A.

The Vikings dominated the boys race won by King in 15:13. Oak Harbor’s Caley Powers was fourth in 16:06. Lake Stevens took the other seven spots among the top nine to tally 18 points. Oak Harbor finished with 46 and Lynnwood 82. The Wildcats were missing their top runner, Matt Reith, who is out indefinitely with a back injury.

Wyatt Homola was 13th (17:09), Michael Kincy 14th (17:11), Clayton Richardson 15th (17:12) and Nate Miller 18th (17.22).

It was King’s second race of the season, but he said the first was “more like a training run” and he did not “push it” against Lake Stevens and Lynnwood. King, one of the state’s top distance runners, said he will go all out Saturday at Mount Baker to see where he stands in his training.

In the past King ran for Oak Harbor because Coupeville does not have a cross country program. Coupeville athletes have also competed for Oak Harbor in swimming, wrestling and golf, other sports not offered at the Central Whidbey school.

That changed this year when Oak Harbor dropped from 4A to 3A. When schools like Oak Harbor and Coupeville combine to form one team, both schools’ enrollments are added together to determine the team’s classification (which is determined by enrollment). As a 3A school, if Oak Harbor absorbed Coupeville’s enrollment, it would push Oak Harbor back to 4A.

King continues to train and travel with Oak Harbor, but has to compete for Coupeville as a one-man team.

King said he still considers himself a part of the OHHS squad: “I am still a team member; I still have the companionship. I train with them and ride the bus with them; the jersey is just a different color.”

King’s biggest disappointment is not being able to compete in the highest classification in the state meet. Last year he finished fifth in the 4A race and had his sights on the title this year.

His time last year in the 4A state race was a half-minute faster than the 1A champion. However, King expects a challenge in the 1A race this year, particularly from Elma’s Todd Jackson, who was injured last year and did not run at state. Jackson’s best times equal King’s.

King will also compete later this fall in the Border Clash, which features the top runners from Washington and Oregon. In addition, he will take part in the prestigious Foot Locker regional meet in late November in California in hopes of qualifying for the national cross country meet.

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