Wolves ready for state title run

In the grand scheme of the postseason picture, this meet mattered little.

But Sequim's cross country runners can consider it a true test of how well they might fare if both teams qualify for the state meet.

Considering their times and placings, Sequim coach Harold Huff says his Wolves are hitting their collective stride just right.

Led by junior Alli Cutting, who finished second overall, each of Sequim's girls finished under 20 minutes for a solid all-around performance. After back-to-back league championships in 2006 and 2007, however, the Vikings of North Kitsap proved too deep to beat. The Wolves finished with 48 team points, just behind North's 41 team points.

"We ran a great race," Huff said, minutes after watching his girls finish. "Hats off to NK, they've got a good girls team. (But) we're running outstanding times and they're all healthy."

And though the same can't be said for Sequim's boys, who saw several runners suffer illnesses in the days leading up to the league meet, the Wolves still managed to pull third place (83 points) behind North Kitsap (43) and rival Port Angeles (75).

"There's just too many of them sick; it's killing them," Huff said.

Following a boys junior varsity race that saw Sequim's crew take second, the varsity team came out strong on the league meet trail, the nearby Cedars at Dungeness golf course. Led by senior Kenny Russell, the Wolves got two top-10 placings and its top five in the first 25 runners.

For his part, Russell (ninth, 15:36) wasn't happy with the finish after coming down with an illness just four days previous.

"We had to cut down workouts," he said. "It's really hard to run with a cold. I'm just keeping my head up. The guys ran awesome."

Teammate Ben Ohnstad was 10th with a 15:51 finish, followed by Colby Robb (20th, 16:39), Alex Jenkins (21st, 16:42) and Tyler Wilson-Walters (16:44). Freshman Joel Christopher, a late add to the varsity team, took 31st at 17:01 while Joe Hutchison was 49th with an 18:14 mark.

After battling sicknesses for most of the season, Sequim's girls look close to full strength, particularly Cutting. The league runner-up actually led the first half of the race before defending cross country 2A champ Ruby Roberts pulled away for the win in 17:02. Cutting finished in 17:24.

Unlike Kingston, however,

Sequim's girls showed their depth to be the best among Olympic League 2A teams; Audrey Lichten finished sixth in 18:19, Laura Moser was 12th with an 18:56 mark, Christina Bruce was 13th with a 19:06 and Zoei Zbaraschuk took 15th at 19:29. Sequim's Alyssa Stratton and Taylor Roads each finished in the top 30, helping the Wolves put further distance between themselves and all but North Kitsap. Kingston was third with 71 team points, 30 behind Sequim.

"We all ran pretty strong (but) not to our full potential," Bruce said following the meet. "If we all run our best, we're an amazing team."

If either Sequim squad is saving a better performance, it couldn't come at a better time than in the next two weeks. On Nov. 1, Sequim takes on Olympic and Nisqually League teams at the West Central District meet at American Lake Golf Course in Tacoma. The top three teams and 15 individuals from the district meet qualify for the state 2A meet, held this year at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco on Nov. 8.

Sequim's girls have qualified for the state meet as a team since 2002.

Huff said both Sequim squads are going to train hard for one more week, the one leading up to districts, before tapering for the state meet.

"Barring injuries, there's no excuse for us not being in the top three," he said.

Individually, Russell finished 10th at the state meet in 2006 and ninth last year. The Sequim senior said he has his eyes on a 2A state title, and his chance - minus any health problems - looks good: the only runner who finished ahead of him at last year's state meet who didn't graduate is Port Townsend's Quinton Decker, and Decker's Port Townsend team now competes in the 1A classification.

Olympic League

meet elite

• Top 10 boys finishers

1. Quinton Decker, PT 14:49.0

2. Bereket Piatt, PT 15:12.4

3. John Wojtech, Olympic 15:21.6

4. Tabor Reedy, NK 15:22.4

5. Joel Brose, NK 15:25.1

6. John Christian, PA 15:25.9

7. Tyler Spear, NK 15:32.2

8. Brad Garrett, PA 15:33.0

9. Kenny Russell, Sequim 15:36.4

10. Ben Ohnstad, Sequim 15:51.3

• Top 10 girls finishers

1. Ruby Roberts, Kingston 17:02.9

2. Alli Cutting, Sequim 17:24.8

3. Marina Roberts, Kingston 17:54.7

4. Annelise Weinmann, NK 17:58.4

5. Rose Bishop, Kingston 18:13.6

6. Audrey Lichten, Sequim 18:19.0

7. Hilary Leonard, NK 18:28.2

8. Alison Maxwell, PA 18:38.8

9. Elizabeth Staker, NK 18:43.4

10. Shawna Williams, NK 18:45.2

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