CATHLAMET-Get out the brooms! The Ilwaco boys cross country team swept the first six places in a five-team meet at Cathlamet Thursday. The amazing production from the team is the result of old-fashioned hard work, according to Coach Joe Williams.
John Hayes set a course record on the 3.1 mile loop, winning in 17:37 and running on a 5:42 pace per mile. (His time of 15:05 time last week at Elma was on a 2.7 mile course, not 3.1 as earlier reported.) Jordan Williams was hot on Hayes' heels in 18:08, easily earning second. Shaun Peterson zipped in at third place in 18:15.
Dylan Wirkkala was a strong fourth in 18:23 and edged teammate Scott Fagerland, who finished in 18:24 for fifth, by only a second. To prove how deep - and how just plain good the IHS team is, Mike Huitt was sixth in the meet with a sparkling time of 18:39, yet did not even score for the fast Fishermen because only the first five finishers are counted for team points.
Technically, the Lady Fishermen matched the boy's perfect 15 score because they were the only school to field a five-person team among girl runners from Naselle, Kalama, Oakville, and host Cathlamet. Erin Knick claimed second place in a time of 23:20 behind Cothren from Cathlamet. Meredith Jensen was a minute behind, which was fast enough for third in 24:20. Katie Freese was fourth in 25:52, Monica Millner finished sixth with a time of 26:32, and Elaine Erola completed scoring for Ilwaco in 26:32 as she claimed seventh.
Both Hayes and Knick were recently named to be among Athlete's of the Week by the Longview Daily News. Hayes said, "Right now our whole team is running well. Hopefully we will remain healthy and continue to improve so we can peak at some of the big invitational meets that are coming up." The top six Fishermen runners were within a 1:02 of each other and the five scorers were only 47 seconds apart.
Kathleen Oja finished 10th for the girls in a time of 28:21. Matt Kaino was 12th (20:49), Luke Jensen 14th (20:59), and Carl Jackson finished 23rd (22:50) for the guys.
The Ilwaco boys are rated fifth in the latest Washington State Cross Country Coaches poll, and the girls are in sixth place. It took the pollsters a week to figure out the Ilwaco squads are not 2A anymore, as the boys were seventh among the bigger schools in the initial poll. Look for both squads to move even higher in 1A after their solid-gold performances at the home of the Mules.
Stephen Berglund continues to be undefeated in middle school cross country, winning his race in 11:06. Robert Gibbons was a snappy second in 11:16, Kyle Huitt, seventh, hummed home in 13:00, and Evan LaPlatney completed the loop for 10th in 14:36. Desmin Wirkkala walloped the middle school girl's field by winning first place in 12:47.
The only opportunity to catch the high-flying Ilwaco cross country teams in action at home this season will come in their next races Sept. 23. They host a four-team meet beginning at 4 p.m. on the Black Lake course that begins and ends at Pederson Field.