Stunning the field, the Oak Harbor High School boys cross country team won the district title at Lakewood High School Saturday, Oct. 27, and the girls placed second to earn state berths for the third consecutive year.
There was concern whether the Oak Harbor boys would qualify for the state meet. The top three teams out of district earn state spots, and the Wildcats edged Shorewood by four points for third in the league meet Oct. 18.
Going against the same schools and Ferndale, Oak Harbor jumped over Mountlake Terrace and Glacier Peak to grab its second-straight district title. Until last fall, the Wildcats hadn't won a district crown in 40 years.
The Oak Harbor girls held form, finishing second to nationally-ranked Glacier Peak just as they did in the Wesco meet.
Oak Harbor, coached by Eric Peterson and Andy Wesley, will now send both the boys and girls to the state meet in the same year for the third consecutive season. Only once, in 1995, did the Wildcats accomplish the feat until the current string.
The state meet is Saturday, Nov. 3, at Pasco's Sun Willows Golf Course. The Oak Harbor girls placed 10th and the boys 11th in 2011.
Running in a steady downpour and over a muddy course, Oak Harbor won the boys district meet with 67 points, followed by Glacier Peak (77), Shorewood (98) and Mountlake Terrace (114).
Three of the five scoring Wildcat runners placed higher at district than at league to push Oak Harbor up the team standings, and all five placed in the top 20.
Gavin Stewart (17:15.7) had the most dramatic jump, moving from 27th to 16th. Jason Salas (17:11.) went from 19th to 15th and Nathan Wagner (17:21) from 23rd to 19th.
John Rodeheffer (16:30.9), who was fifth out of 77 runners, and Clayton Richardson (12th, 16:59.6) grabbed Oak Harbor's top two spots.
Patrick Mayer (17:32.4) placed 26th and Alexander Krantz (17:39.6) 29th.
As expected, Glacier Peak easily won girls race with 21 points. Oak Harbor tallied 83 and Stanwood 97.
Christina Wicker (19:17.3) placed sixth out of 71 to guide the Oak Harbor girls.
Rounding out the scoring were Jonalynn Horn (10th, 19:39), Alex Laiblin (12th, 19:41), Marisa Sligh (23rd, 21:12.3) and Ashley Everett (32nd, 21:28.7).
Rachel Crowther (35th, 21:34.4) and Carlie Kenny (43rd, 22:09.8) also competed.
Peterson said, "Every member of the boys team wanted the district title and ran like animals today…Standout performance by Gavin and Nathan helped vault the boys into first. Both kids picked and stuck with their rival teams, sealing our victory."
He said that most of the girls ran personal records, with the "standout performance of the day" going to Horn.
Peterson added that the girls are "going to focus on a top-10 performance next week at the state meet."
(Below, the boys team shows off its first-place trophy. Photo courtesy of Sandee Oehring.)