By Bruce Cyra
For The Beachcomber
Pirate cross country Captain Madeline Yarkin will be heading to the state championship race in Pasco on Nov. 6 — but it will not be her first trip to Pasco.
In finishing in fifth place against 34 other teams competing in the 5k District 1-4 qualifying race at South Whidbey High School this past Saturday, Yarkin qualified to run in Pasco, the only Pirate harrier to qualify this year.
Yarkin has made the trip to Pasco before, but in the past as a supporter of her older sister Ella Yarkin, who preceded her as captain of the team and who raced at the state championship three years as a Pirate.
Yarkin gained valuable experience watching her sister as both captain and a racer — and has put that mentorship to good use this season. Yarkin not only broke a 23-year-old 5k cross country record this season but raced to a finish on the cold and hilly South Whidbey course well ahead of her ranking heading into the competition.
Holding her own against the competitive field, and after running the first mile in eighth place, Yarkin moved her way up against the field in the short but steep second mile, and finally into fifth on the long downhill in the third mile through the woods of Community Park.
In the race, the Pirates were also represented by first-year runner Atticus Spence, also a tenth grader like Yarkin, who took advantage of the long downhill in the third mile of the course to make up ground on the other runners. For the first year ever, the boys’ team ran at a separate location for their District 3 championships on Oct. 30, running in windy conditions at Chambers Bay in University Place.
There, the Pirates were led by senior captain Levi Blasingim, who narrowly missed the cut-off for state-qualifying, leading his teammates Christian Kincade, Tyler Huffman, Travis Martin, Dylan Fick and Caleb Guadamuz against seven other teams. The Pirates will continue to practice together this week in support of Yarkin as the season winds down, heading into the final race of the season in Pasco, and then to lead the Chautauqua Elementary runners in their annual Turkey Trot, where many Pirates got their start in running.