Girls team finishes 12th for IHS, Williams squeaks past Hayes at finish for 14th place
PASCO - "Our boys team ran faster times than they did a year ago, and we accomplished what we wanted to, but we just got beat," an optimistic, but disappointed Coach Joe Williams said of his highly-rated boys cross country team following their fifth place finish at the State meet on Saturday.
Of the girls team that finished 12th in the 1A/B meet, Williams said, "You have to give the girls a lot of credit. They stuck to it, and now they realize going to State is a big deal."
The boys team was ranked second to eventual state champ Charles Wright Academy and high hopes of upending the private school on the 5 km course permeated the trip to Eastern Washington.
"They improved more than we did," Williams said. "Their top runner bettered his time by over a minute. Our plan was for each of our guys to beat each of theirs, but we just weren't able to go with them."
One problem was that CWA's runners were in the 6-foot range; four of Ilwaco's 6 runners are pushing 5'8" in height. "We just didn't have the depth to respond during the 20 minutes of the race today," Williams said Saturday.
Of both squads, the coach related, "I am real proud of what we did. The kids accomplished a lot." The boys were within 42 seconds of each other and staying fresh and having a good "pack time" were pre-race goals that were clearly accomplished.
Jordan Williams nipped John Hayes at the tape to finish 14th overall in 17:21. Hayes was 15th in the same time. Shaun Peterson claimed 25th in 17:52, Dylan Wirkkala was 27th in 17:56, and Scott Fagerland finished 30th in 18:02.
Mike Huitt was the fastest sixth place finisher of any team in the meet at 18:33; Matt Kaino was 53rd in 20:03 in running his first state race as a freshman. The Fishermen scored 111 points to CWA's winning 31. Seattle Academy was second with 73, Highland scored 104, and Newport had 109. Luke Jensen and Carl Jackson were alternates for the boys team at state, gaining valuable experience by watching the event.
The girls team placed 12th with 278 points, led by senior Erin Knick's 17th place finish in 21:11. Katie Freese was 41st in 22:25, and Meredith Jensen hit the tape in 23:39 in 60th place. The Lady Fishermen freshmen duo of Kat Oja was 77th in 24:47, and Monica Millner placed 83rd in 25:15. Elaina Erola finished 84th in 25:19.
Williams said of the girls, "They didn't start real fast as a team and were caught in a bottle-neck early in race except for Erin."
Zillah won the girls meet, followed by a number of private schools in the top 10. Rainier was 11th, finishing just ahead of Ilwaco.
Williams said he was confident the results would start a fire in his teams for next year. Only Knick and Erola graduate, and a strong contingent of middle school girls and boys will be joining the squads.
"Instead of running 40 miles a week, we might have to run 60," he said.
He had special praise for assistant coaches Mike Anderson and Sarah Taylor. "They make a great effort every day and really help our teams," Williams said.
The Fishermen finished second in the 1982 cross country race, and the girls' top place was fifth in 2000. Ernie Ammons was state cross country champ in 1992, and Ivan Bannon finished as high as second. Ericka Karnofski is the highest girl finisher in school history for the Lady Fishermen, coming in fifth in 2000.
"We had high expectations this year, and it would have taken a perfect race to meet those expectations," Williams said. "We have next year to try again," he concluded. "Every one of our kids did their best."