Girls place first at league cross country meet

Freshman Jessica Merritt kicks down the final stretch of the Fort Steilacoom course on Tuesday, Sept.24. Merritt finished ninth in the race.  - Courtesy Photo
Freshman Jessica Merritt kicks down the final stretch of the Fort Steilacoom course on Tuesday, Sept.24. Merritt finished ninth in the race.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

For The Beachcomber

The Pirate cross country team’s success seems to be on the rise as the season progresses.

The girls’ team took first place of seven teams at a Nisqually League meet hosted by Charles Wright Academy at Fort Stielacoom on Tuesday, Sept. 24. This was the first victory for VHS girls’ cross country in years. The girls scored 41 points, putting them 10 points ahead of second-place Cedar Park Christian.

The top three finishers for the Pirate girls team all beat their personal best times, a big accomplishment considering the amount of hills in the Fort Steilacoom course.

Senior Maddi Groen came in second with a time of 20:46; freshman Jane Oslwald placed fourth with a time of 21:18, and freshman Jessica Merritt came in ninth, running the course in 23:17.

Sophomore Natalie VanDevanter was the fourth finisher for the varsity team and improved her season record despite a knee injury. Sophomore Aubrey Kraabel ran a fantastic race as well, smashing her season record by almost three minutes.

The boys team placed fifth at Fort Steilacoom, beating Life Christian Academy and Cascade Christian. Freshman Jeffrey

Parrish ran his first 5k in under 19 minutes and placed 21st. The Pirates’ number-two runner, junior Aaron Kitchener, ran an all-time personal record of 20:08. He hopes to break through the 20-minute barrier in meets to follow.

For the second week in a row, the VHS cross country team had a two-meet week. Luckily, there were three days of practice after the meet at Fort Steilacoom to prepare for their next race: the Pacific Lutheran University Middle School and High School Invitational, where more than 30 teams competed. Although both the boys’ and girls’ teams were still recovering from performances earlier in the week, everyone proved their durability by attacking the new course with high spirits in rainy and muddy conditions on Saturday, Sept. 28.

The invitational was separated into five races. First, there was a co-ed middle school 2k and four separate 5k races for freshman/sophomore girls, freshman/sophomore boys, junior/senior girls and junior/senior boys.

Seventh-grader Clara Atwell represented McMurray brilliantly once again, finishing in 12th place with a time of 9:51.

Next, freshman Jane Oswald finished third in her race, but was the fastest freshman, earning a Freshman Champion medal. Freshman Eva Cyra also thrived on the muddy course, improving her personal record by more than 40 seconds.

For the boys, freshmen Langston Dziko and Isaac Hughes remained side-by-side throughout the entire race, pushing each other to improve both their personal records. Hughes tried to make a move on Dziko with about 50 meters to go, but Dziko passed him with an impressive final kick.

Maddi Groen took second place in the junior/senior girls race and also took home the Senior Champion title.

Senior Camille Char-news showed junior Jenn Hornish the ropes for Hornish’s first high school meet. Both fought through the downpour and Hornish finished 46th, Charnews 47th.

Junior Joe Shugart’s relentlessness on the course was evident on Saturday; he dropped almost a minute off of his personal record despite the weather. Junior Aaron Kitchener and seniors Codi Williams and Philip VanDevanter finished in a close pack in 34th, 36th and 37th place, respectively.

— Maddi Groen is a member of the Vashon cross country team.

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