Lakewood boys, Nation state-bound

LANGLEY — When so many runners compete to extend their seasons, it’s natural that some will go home disappointed.

It proved true at districts as the Lakewood boys team qualified for state but other local individuals and teams fell short of qualifying at the Nov. 1 meet at South Whidbey High School.

The Cougar boys were paced by junior Taylor Guske, who unveiled a new level of toughness and competitiveness in the second half of the season, winning the Hole in the Wall Invite in early October and the league championship last week. Guske led the 2A boys contest for the first mile and a half, ultimately finishing in third place and just 10 seconds out of a district championship with a time of 16:39.

Senior Nick Devier ran a consistent second-place pace behind Guske for the first mile or so, falling back to 11th place by the finish line.

“It wasn’t the plan for them to be leading at that point,” Lakewood coach Jeff Sowards said of the boys’ early lead. “But they had the talent to be up there.”

The boys finished in fourth place, earning the district’s last team slot to state.

But it became clear when the Lakewood girls fell 11 points short of their own team slate to state that the girls — energized in large part by the team’s improvement throughout the offseason to rise into the 2A state coaches’ poll — had the talent to match the boys program and the ability to compete with the programs that would send all seven of their runners to Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

“The top four teams in the state are in this district,” Sowards said, adding of the Cougar girls and South Whidbey, two teams considered among the state’s 10 best at the 2A level, “There will be 16 teams at state next week and two of the best won’t be there.”

Instead, the girls will be represented by senior Lacey Nation, the only Lakewood girl to make an appearance in the top 20, the 2A standard for an individual berth to state.

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