Spurred by an eighth-place finish by junior Jonalynn Horn, the Oak Harbor High School girls cross country team finished 11th in the state 3A cross country meet at Pasco's Sun Willows Golf Course Saturday, Nov. 9.
Horn's placing was the second best in school history (Debra Vaughn ran second in 1994) and in front of three runners who finished ahead of her at the league and district meets this year.
As a team, Oak Harbor finished where it was ranked in the final 3A state poll, 11th, in a strong showing by the Western Conference. Wesco's Glacier Peak defended its state title with 102 points and Mountlake Terrace placed fifth at 157. Oak Harbor scored 238, one point ahead of Bellevue and 19 behind Mount Spokane.
Oak Harbor did not qualify its boys team for state, but two individuals competed: junior John Rodeheffer, the league and district champion, placed 11th (15:40.58, a personal record) and senior Clayton Richardson was 56th (16:37.64) out of 136 runners.
Oak Harbor coach Eric Peterson said, "John struggled a little between the second and third mile but was able to rally, show some mental toughness and move into an 11th."
Tanner Anderson of Spokane's North Central High School won the boys race in 14:44.83 to lead his team to the title.
Rodeheffer finished 61st last year, while Richardson was 48th.
Horn wasn't the only highlight for the girls.
Senior Alex Laiblin, only the second Oak Harbor girl to compete in fourth consecutive state meets, placed 13th (19:02.43), to also record one of the program's best-ever finishes.
Laiblin placed 19th and Horn 39th in 2012.
Laiblin was also the only senior girl to run at state for the Wildcats this year. Rodeheffer's freshman sister Laura placed 58th (20:06.37), junior Marisa Sligh finished 96th (20:56.11, a personal record), sophomore Suzanne Kaltenbach 115th (21:48.96, a personal record), freshman Kaitlyn Chelberg 118th (22:06.99) and freshman Carolynn Wicker 129th (24:49.79).
Sligh placed 128th last year.
Andrea Masterson of Lakeside won the individual girls title over a field of 133 in 17:50.83.
Peterson said, "Jonalynn ran a smart race from the start. She took her spot early and held it throughout the race, finishing with an incredible PR under 19 minutes."
"Alex also had a great race. She came through the first mile in 17th place and was able to work her way through the field to 13th," he said.
With Horn, Laiblin and John Rodeheffer finishing among the top 16, it is the first time Oak Harbor has had three podium runners in the same year, according to Peterson.
It is also the first time Oak Harbor has had more than one runner qualify for Nike's Borderclash, a race between Washington and Oregon's top runners.
Borderclash is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Nike's campus in Beaverton, Ore.
In the past, Tyler King, Mietra Smollack and Christina Wicker competed in the all-star race.