PASCO — Four local runners, from both Arlington and Lakewood high schools, took advantage of their opportunity to compete in the WIAA State Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Arlington’s freshman Emma Janousek and sophomore Cassidy Rude qualified for state at the district tournament on Saturday, Oct. 27, with Janousek finishing in 10th place at 19:07.7 and Rude finishing in 15th place with a time of 19:10.1.
Lakewood’s state qualifier, Ariel Jensen finished in 14th place at districts with a time of 19:56.4, while Douglas Davis finished in 13th place with a final time of 16:38.2.
“[Janousek and Rude] have been about as consistent as you can get,” said AHS head coach Mike Shierk. “They have a simple race strategy — don’t go out crazy that first mile and as the race progresses, others will slowly fade out. They go out conservative for the first mile and they’ll be in 35th place there, but by the end they are placing in the top 10 or 15. They’ve been so confident that they do it at every race.”
Rude stayed consistent at the state meet, finishing in 48th place with a time of 19:27.6, while Janousek took 70th place with a time of 19:51.3.
Lakewood’s state competitors also ranked highly at the championship race. Out of 141 runners, Jensen finished in 54th place with a time of 20:37, while Davis took 29th place with a final time of 16:30.7.
“I thought they both did really well,” said Lakewood head coach Jeff Sowards.
“Ariel’s race was off, I know she was in shape to finish a minute faster. It’s really the only bad race she’s had all season, so it’s unfortunate that it happened at state. But we are really proud of the accomplishments she’s made, especially coming back from her sophomore year when she was really sick. We are proud of her. Douglas had a fantastic race at state. He set a lifetime personal record and finished in 29th place. We are really pleased with him and this puts him in the top 15 all-time performers at Lakewood.”
Although only the top two girls from Arlington’s cross country team made it to state, Shierk was eager to express pride in both his girls and boys teams this season. His top boys team runner, Jameson Wren, missed state qualification by only six spots.
“We were very proud of him, we can’t ask for anything more,” said Shierk, who also commended the efforts of the girls team as a whole.
“If you know anything about cross country, you know a big thing is the team top average. The best [girls] team average I’ve seen was in 2009 when the group finished with an average 20.39. This year’s team was 20.08. Any other year we’d be qualifying for state as a team. We are in the toughest bi-district. This is by far the best team I have ever coached. Our whole goal all season was a 20.20 average at districts and then we beat it by 12 seconds? That’s incredible.”
What’s perhaps most exciting about the success of Eagle runners this year is that the team is fairly young.
“These kids want to be state champions,” said Shierk. “The beautiful thing about this is that if you work hard and challenge yourself you can be in the elite group of runners.”
Lakewood’s teams are also set to improve next season.
“With our top runners, we only lose one boy and one girl next year,” said Sowards. “The season ended really well for our varsity teams. Kids were running their best times at the end of the season, with personal records at districts. We are really pleased with their times, their extra effort and their attitude, and we are really looking forward to next year.”