Cross country: Oak Harbor boys, girls teams and King qualify for state

It was all treats and no tricks for the Oak Harbor High School cross country team at the Northwest District meet at South Whidbey High School Saturday, Oct. 30.

No treat was sweeter than the effort of the Wildcat boys team which put in its top performance of the year to qualify for the next weekend’s state meet.

The powerful girls team also qualified for state. Unlike the boys, it was no surprise the girls, ranked eighth in the state in the 3A poll, earned their second consecutive state berth. The boys’ trip to state was highly unexpected.

To earn a trip to state, the teams had to finish in the top three in the 11-team meet. The girls (66 points) placed second behind the state’s top team, Glacier Peak (20), while the boys (103) nabbed third behind Everett (44) and Glacier Peak (59).

Coupeville’s Tyler King, who practiced and traveled with Oak Harbor during the regular season, won the 1A boys race at the 1A Tri-district meet at the American Lake Golf Course in south Tacoma Saturday. He posted a time of 15:45.3 to win by nearly 20 seconds over Port Townsend’s Habtamu Rubio in a race that featured 123 runners.

King, a favorite to win the 1A race, and the Oak Harbor teams journey to Pasco Saturday, Nov. 6, for the state finals at the Sun Willows Golf Course. King’s race will begin a noon. The 3A girls start at 12:30 and the boys at 2.

Going into the district 3A boys race, Oak Harbor head coach Eric Peterson knew there was a good shot that junior Matt Reith would finish among the top 15 individuals and earn a trip to state after Reith was sixth in last week’s league meet. He said he was hoping freshman Caley Powers could improve upon his 21st-place effort at league and squeak out a top-15 finish at district. Powers did just that, placing 15th. Reith and Powers, however, will now be joined by their teammates at state because of their collective efforts.

Peterson said, “Looking at last week's results we calculated the boys had a SLIM chance at making top three IF a number of things happened.” Those “ifs” became realities.

Peterson said Reith “had to continue with his high performance,” Powers “had to run like a beast,” and “John Kaltenbach, Josh Schrum, and – this was the key – either Mike Kincy, Nate Miller or Clay Richardson had to step up…to run a huge PR. All three did.”

The Wildcats also had to leap frog over two schools (Shorewood and Shorecrest) they finished behind in last week’s league meet and hold off the three additional teams that joined the Wesco 3A clubs in the district meet.

Competing against the same group of runners from the league meet plus the additional Northwest Conference schools, four of the five individuals who scored for Oak Harbor improved their finishes. Powers (17:12.53) jumped from 21st to 15th, sophomore Kaltenbach (17:27.61) from 22nd to 19th, junior Schrum (17:58.15) from 29th to 26th and senior Kincy (18:23.93) from 42nd to 35th.

Reith (16:59.09) led all the Wildcat runners by placing eighth in the 5,000 meter race, and senior Miller (18:35.44) finished 44th and freshman Richardson (18:44.6) 50th out of 76.

The Wildcat girls did their Cat Pack routine once again; the team members are so equally talented they end up running in a group.

Senior Allison Duvenez (19:51.24) was the leader, placing eighth, then teammates finished 13th through 17th and 21st: senior Adrianna Royal (13th, 20:12.01), senior Abby Leete (14th, 20:15.89), sophomore Christina Wicker (15th, 20:22.87), junior Hannah Bressler (16th, 20:27.65), freshman Alex Laiblin (17th, 20:35.41) and junior Taylor VonGrey (21st, 13.56).

The Oak Harbor girls are a group of interchangeable parts, Peterson said. “They are such a tight group of runners that if someone has a bad day there is another team member to step up.” This was illustrated in the district meet. Duvenez finished first among the Wildcats but was the fifth Wildcat to cross the line in the league meet. Wicker was the top ‘Cat at league but fourth at district.

Duvenez also helped Oak Harbor reach one of its goals at district: break up Glacier Peak’s dominance. The nationally ranked Grizzlies had five girls finish ahead of all the Oak Harbor runners at league. Duvenez was able to finish in front of the fifth Grizzly at district.

Peterson also pointed out the Leete PR’ed on the district course to help lead Oak Harbor to the state berth.

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