By Bruce Cyra
For The Beachcomber
Mustang cross country team on top of the league
Coach Scott Healey has had his hands full this season, with more than 50 sixth- to eighth-graders running cross country this fall. Just over halfway through the season, his teams are starting to take shape, with solid performances by the top three on the girls and boys teams, backed up by many first-timers filling in the rest of the top seven.
The Mustang girls are led by eighth-graders Emily Harrington, Cecilia Guenther, and Daisy Jones. Running on their home course on Sept. 21, the girls finished 1, 2, and 4 to win the meet. After a quick race on Saturday, Oct. 2 at the Curtis Invitational, in Chambers Bay, Harrington is ranked first in the league over 1.5 miles, followed by Jones in second and sixth-grader Bridget Simmons ranked third.
All three set personal bests over the 1.5-mile course. Cecilia Guenther fills out the top four, ranked first in the league after her win on the Fort Steilacoom meet on Sept. 28, over the 1.47-mile course. Sixth-grader Katherine Thompson rounds out the Mustang top five, ranked fourth in the league over 1.5 miles after her finish on the Mustang’s home course. The Mustangs look to capture another league title for the second year in a row after Harrington, Guenther and Jones led them to the top in the previous season.
The Mustang boys, likewise, are led by consistent finishes by their top three runners — Bodie Thomas, Harrison Decker and Josh Healey, backed up by Cash Nowicki, Brent Calhoun, Oliver Bresnick and Brian Guenther filling out the top seven. Eighth-grader Thomas, after leading his team to first place last season, is ranked third in the state over 1.5 miles, after his win at the Sunfair Invitational in Yakima on Oct. 2, setting a personal best of 7:45 over 1.5 miles. Decker and Healey both set personal best at Chambers Bay, with sixth-grader Decker ranked fourth in the state to Thomas, and seventh-grader Healey ranked third in the league. The Mustang boys look forward to capturing their third team title in four years.
Coach Healey hopes to keep his large teams healthy through the last three races of the season, culminating in the league championships at Titlow Park in University Place on Oct. 19. Their next race is at the large invitational, Hole in the Wall, held in Arlington on Oct. 8, which promises a fast course for setting personal bests.
Pirate harriers look to send runners to State
After the COVID restrictions and changes, Pirate harriers were happy to be back together, with their captains, Madeline Yarkin and Levi Blasingim, mentoring their team as they enter the second half of the season. Sophomore Yarkin, ranked first in the league, has led the Pirate team through the first half of the season with high finishes and a personal best over 5 kilometers at the Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) Invitational on Sept. 18. Senior Blasingim is currently on pace to qualify for the state championships with his high ranking in West Central District. Yarkin is supported by sophomore Taylor Huffman and freshmen Atticus Spence and Lilja Bjarnason, both setting personal bests over 5 km at Chambers Bay.
Blasingim has been followed closely by Junior Hank McSheehy, also ranked high in the district after setting a personal best at Fort Steilacoom. The men’s team is supported by senior Tyler Huffman, freshman Travis Martin, sophomore Dylan Fick and senior Caleb Guadamuz.
Assistant Coach Lisa Cyra said the mentoring of the younger runners by the more experienced has been especially valuable this season for the newcomers after such a tumultuous couple of years, highlighting the extra time and effort put in by captains Yarkin and Blasingim in organizing and supporting their team-mates in their progress.
Coach Laura Johnson is proud that Yarkin has led the field in every league race this year, running close to the school record in the 5 km, and with the team largely free from injury, they are looking forward to the second half of the season, excited to improve their personal bests at Hole in the Wall, and in the league and district championships, where they look to qualify runners for the state championships on Nov. 6, in Pasco.