CASTLE ROCK - Roll out the red carpet, the Ilwaco boys cross country team captured the 2A Trico-League championship at Castle Rock Thursday and the girls team finished a strong third place for Coach Joe Williams.

Senior Nate Appel won the boys race in an outstanding time of 14:34, whipping his rival, Jon Marlo of LaCenter by nearly four seconds. "Nate ran a great race. His hard work during the season and over the summer is really paying off," Williams praised.

The Fishermen claimed the League crown by having four of the top six runners cross the finish line. Ed Guelfi, another senior from Ilwaco, ran third in a time of 15:15. junior, Derek Duffy, finished fifth in 15:19 and freshman, Jordan Williams, came in sixth in 15:31. Jon Fagerland was the final runner to produce points for Ilwaco's champions, coming in 11th with a time of 16.

Shaun Peterson and Scott Fagerland, both freshmen, placed 14th and 17th, respectively. "Our Junior Varsity squad defeated LaCenter's JV's 136 to 140," Williams said. "The future looks bright for Ilwaco cross country." The present is pretty rosy, also, as the Fishermen claimed the first 2A league championship in any sport in school history.

The Lady Fishermen finished third in the Trico-League behind LaCenter and Ridgefield. They were led by Kari Knutzen, who finished fifth, Karla Parsons, sixth, and Erin Knick, seventh. The trio was followed by Amber Hall in 15th, Elaina Erola in 18th, and Meredith Jensen in 20th.

Knutzen ran a time of 19:34, Parsons 19:39, and Knick 19:58. Hall crossed the finish line in 22:14, Erola 23:22, and Jensen, who was suffering from shin splints, ran 25:18. "It's going to be difficult for our girls to get past LaCenter at District," Williams said. That's the task facing the Lady Fishermen if they want to make it to State in Pasco.

The district cross country meet is next Saturday at 10:30 on the Newaukum Golf Course south of Chehalis. "Our boys have a great chance to do well at district. The seven guys who finished in league and Garrett Binion and John Hayes all have the ability to score points for us." Binion's asthma has been giving him problems and Hayes suffered a stress fracture earlier in the season, but is attempting a comeback.

Jordan Williams and Shaun Peterson finished one-two among freshmen in the league, with young Williams' time over a minute better than any other school's ninth graders. Duffy was the fastest junior in the League by 11 seconds. Woodland's Tara Ward won the girls race by almost 30 seconds over the next competitor.

This group of runners has shown the credentials to be among the long line of elite track and cross country athletes in Ilwaco High School history. The next two Saturdays in Chehalis and hopefully Pasco will go a long way in seeing exactly where they stand.

If hard work and dedicated coaching have anything to do with it, Williams' charges will continue to excel.

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