CHEHALIS - Ilwaco boys cross country team established themselves as one of three premier teams in the state of Washington Saturday in Chehalis, finishing second to Chelan in the 26 team event.
The Fishermen boys were second to perennial champion, Chelan, scoring 97 to the north central powerhouse's 87 points, and outdistancing all other 3A and 4A schools in the meet. The Lady Fishermen finished a strong tenth place among 23 girls teams for Coach Joe Williams.
"Our guys all improved their times by half a minute almost to a man and our girls, while there is still room for improvement, did very well in spite of some nagging injuries," the veteran coach said. "Today we showed we can compete with Chelan and the other top team in the state, South Whidbey."
Nate Appel continued his brilliant senior season by finishing third out of over 150 runners in a time of 15:54 for the three mile course. "Nate's leadership and positive work ethic is a real plus for our team," Williams commented. Derek Duffy improved to 18th place and had an outstanding time of 16:49, just ahead of freshman sensation, Jordan Williams, who finished 20th in 16:52.
Ed Guelfi finished 21st in 16:59 and Jon Fagerlund continued his improvement by finishing 36th in 17:18. Garret Binion completed the course in 17:58, being the third Ilwaco runner to average less than six minutes per mile, quite a feat for any high school team. Freshman, John Hays, out with an injury, continues to work on his conditioning by swimming and other workouts in anticipation to even further strengthening the Fishermen team.
"Any one of our top six or seven runners would deserve a great deal of credit as individuals, but having them all doing so well, some of their times tend to get overlooked," the veteran coach concluded.
The Lady Fishermen were led by Kari Knutzen, who completed the course in 21:34, good for 33rd place. Karla Parsons came in 38th in 21:53 and Erin Knick had a time of 22:41, earning 54th among 120 plus runners. Amber Hall, coming off a leg injury, came in 72nd in 23:52. Elaina Erola continued to contribute solid efforts for Ilwaco, finishing 90th in a time of 25:03 and Meredith Jensen, also nursing a leg injury, finished 102 in a time of 25:59.
"The girls are hopeful of overcoming some of their nagging injuries and there is a possibility of a couple of ways they can get to state. I am looking forward to them reaching their peek in the next couple of weeks," Williams said.
The boys finished ahead of the likes of Renton, R. A. Long, Chehalis, Yelm, O'Dea, Black Hills, Tumwater, and Peninsula high schools, to put their accomplishment in perspective.
In the Junior Varsity race, Dylan Wirkkala and Scott Fagerlund tied for fourth and fifth with an excellent time of 18:20. Kathleen Oja, a seventh grader, won the junior high girls race in a time of 10:32 for the 1.5 mile course. "Our program looks strong in the younger grades. Our junior high girls have outstanding speed, especially in their first mile," raved an obviously pleased Williams.