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King finishes fifth in state cross country; girls' team earns 15th
Tyler King saved the best for last as he ran to a fifth-place finish in the Washington state 4A boys’ cross-country championship last Saturday at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
Adrianna Royal placed 59th in the girls’ race to grab the top spot among Oak Harbor runners as her Wildcat team placed 15th out of 16 teams.
King shaved 26 seconds off his personal best in 5,000 meters in his impressive showing at Pasco.
Oak Harbor coach Eric Peterson said King “tore it up.” One mile into the race King was in 11th. He moved up two spots by the next mile marker, then passed four more over the final mile and was closing in on three others as he crossed the finish line, according to Peterson.
King ran a 15:33. His previous personal best was 15:59 at last week’s district meet. Before that, his best mark came at last year’s state meet where he ran 16:05 and finished 22nd.
Not only did King have to overcome his opponents in the 144-man race, but a restart.
At the Sun Willows course, there is an uphill start of 100 meters then a hard left turn. In the original start, a pileup occurred at the turn and a number of runners fell and were stepped on, so officials stopped the race.
Peterson said, “The officials used 17 minutes to bandage up the runners and stop the bleeding, then restarted the race.”
King wasn’t hurt, but Peterson said, “The challenge in that situation comes in having your athletes refocus for another start as well as staying loose with the wind and cold weather.”
Peterson gave King his coat and told him to get away from the commotion as he waited.
Peterson said, “Tyler, as an experienced athlete, distanced himself from the excitement and the other runners on the starting line and was able to do some light jogging and a few striders on the hill while staying mentally prepared and focused for the race.”
Another hurdle King faced was his health. After the Wildcats’ final regular-season meet Oct. 8, King was hit hard by the flu and missed over a week of training. He was still feeling the effects of the lack of training and illness in the league meet.
Peterson said, “I wasn’t sure how he would run Saturday (at state). With a few modifications to this training this last week it was an all-or-nothing on whether he would feel good enough to run with the top runners in the state. Turns out it was and he had a great day of racing.”
King not only finished fifth, but he defeated all six runners who placed in front of him at the district meet Oct. 31, including Cascade’s Dylan Hopper. Hopper also finished in front of King at the Western Conference North division meet Oct. 24, King’s first race back after his illness.
Instead of lamenting about what might have been if he hadn’t gotten sick this fall, King was happy with his fifth-place medal. He said, “At the beginning of the season I was hoping to finish in the top 10 at state. After being sick, I wasn’t sure. I can’t complain.”
Shane Moskowitz of Central Kitsap won the race in 15:06. He was followed by Conner Peloquin (Gig Harbor, 15:22), Adam Thorne (Ferris, 15:31), and Kenji Bierig (Lewis & Clark, 15:32).
Ferris High School of Spokane won the team title with 68 points, upsetting the nation’s No. 1 ranked team and Oak Harbor rival Jackson of Mill Creek, which finished second with 100 points. The Timberwolves, according to coach Eric Hruschka, were hit by their own flu bug. Four of his runners woke up ill the morning of the race.
King was Oak Harbor’s only runner in the boys’ race because he was the only one to finish among the top 15 individuals at last week’s district meet.
Oak Harbor finished ninth in the team scoring; to send an entire team to state, schools had to finish in the top three.
King was just two seconds out of third. Bierig, who finished one spot and one second in front of King, was the only underclassmen who beat King. Both Bierig and King are juniors.
King said he isn’t predicting a state title next year: “There are a lot of other guys with the same goal. We’ll see what happens.”
King attends Coupeville High School but runs for Oak Harbor because his school does not field a cross-country team. Had he run in the 1A state title race, Coupeville’s classification, he most likely would have finished first. The winning 1A time was over 30 seconds slower than King’s.
King, however, doesn’t see it as a missed opportunity: “I run for a 4A school, so the 4A race is where I belong.”
He added he really enjoys the other boys on the Oak Harbor team and “likes what the 4A competition has to offer.”
With his top-20 finish, King has earned an invitation to the Border Clash, a race between the best runners of Washington and Oregon at the Nike World Headquarters Campus in Beaverton, Ore., Nov. 22 at 10 a.m.
Oak Harbor’s girls’ team finished third at the district meet and qualified to compete for the state team title at Pasco.
Eastlake of Sammamish earned the girls’ 4A team crown with 100 points. Stanwood, the Wildcats’ Wesco North foe, finished third with 126 points. Oak Harbor collected 15th with 334.
Peterson said some of the Oak Harbor girls “were plagued this week with the flu, so we’re happy with how the season finished overall.” He added, “It was great for these ladies to have qualified for the state meet, and, being such a young team, they have set their goal to return again next year.”
Only two of the seven Wildcats who competed at state are seniors, Jessica Denmon and Ariel McCarter.
Royal paced Oak Harbor by placing 59th (19:47). Allison Duvenez was 72nd (19:58); Denmon, 104th (20:32); Abby Leete, 124th (20:57); Taylor Von Grey, 140th (21.25); Christina Wicker, 147th (22:16); and McCarter, 148th (22:17) out of 151.
Denmon, Leete, and Von Grey all recorded personal best times.