They call it the Westside Classic, and for Sequim runners, it was another classic performance.
Sequim's girls cross country squad earned their fourth consecutive district championship while the boys, led by district champ Kenny Russell, took second overall and both teams are headed to the state 2A meet in Pasco Nov. 8.
"We always try to peak (on) district and state weekends," Sequim coach Harold Huff said. "We had brutal workouts, just brutal. We want them to be their best at the end and make sacrifices on the way."
With junior Alli Cutting leading the way once again, Sequim placed their five scoring runners in the top 11. Cutting took second with an 18:34 mark, less than 10 seconds behind rival (and defending state 2A champ) Ruby Roberts.
Sequim sophomore Audrey Lichten battled her way past Kingston's Rose Bishop for fourth place with a 19:26 mark while senior Laura Moser made the most of her last district race, placing sixth at 19:45.
Senior Christina Bruce was ninth (20:32) while Zoei Zbaraschuk was 11th (21:10).
In the girls' team scoring, although Kingston and Sequim fought tooth-and-nail for the top six spots, Sequim's depth proved too much, outpacing the Buccaneers by 30 points. Fife was third, just six team points behind Kingston.
"(The girls) had their best race of the year," Huff said.
Cutting, who was third at the district meet in 2007, said she was happy with her finish, even if Roberts, her friendly rival, managed to win.
"If would have been nice to beat her (but) I'm hoping that will work itself out at state," Cutting said. "I'm now focused more on time."
On the boys' side, Interlake turned out to be the top team, edging Sequim by seven points. But the visitors from the KingCo conference didn't get any help from Russell, who won his second district meet title in three years.
"I didn't feel so hot - I was still struggling from that sickness," Russell said, noting an early-season bout with a sinus infection. "I was lacking a little energy (but) I just had that mindset of winning that race."
With Russell hardly training at all, the rest of Sequim's boys put in their last week of truly hard training - and it showed. The rest of the squad managed to stay together and finish in a flurry, taking places 16 (Colby Robb, 17:27), 17 (Tyler Wilson Walters, 17:31), 19 (Ben Ohnstad, 17:39) and 20 (Alex Jenkins, 17:45).
Senior Alex Clifford helped the Wolves' cause with a 23rd-place finish (17:54) while freshman Joel Christopher was 24th (18:03).
"The boys were a little flat," Huff said. "They were a little tired with the workouts. I think we'll be better off (the extensive training). Kenny is starting to feel a little better. I think he can run faster."
Sequim moves on to Pasco, a familiar site for Huff and the Wolves. It's the third consecutive trip for the boys and seventh for the girls. Sequim's best finish was in 2006, when the girls' squad took fourth overall behind state champion Stephanie Marcy.
The course, set at Sun Willows Golf Course, has rolling hills and turns conducive to
Sequim runners, Huff said, since the Wolves do plenty of training at hilly Robin Hill Farm Park.
"I think that will definitely help us - we get so much training on hills," Cutting said. "I was really impressed with our girls. We should all do better next week. It's going to be a fight, for sure."
In the girls' race, the Roberts sisters and Cutting figure to be at or near the top along with Sehome's Annie Moore, Hockinson's Shannon Porter, Becca Friday of Bellingham and Squalicum's Sophie Curl. In the team standings, the top teams figure to include a trio of strong Northwest Conference teams - Sehome, Squalicum and Burlington-Edison - plus Cedarcrest, Deer Park and
"I think if the girls run on top of their game, as well as they are capable of, they should be in the top five or six," Huff said. "Those girls are ready to go."
On the boys' side, Russell likes his chances for a state crown, with possible challenges coming from Connor Whan of Burlington-Edison, Scott Carlyle of Sehome, Todd Jackson of Elma and a pair of runners from Tumwater: Steven Acosta and Nathan Duray.
"I think my chances are still really good," Russell said. "I know I've beaten all these guys (from districts) before. By Tuesday or Wednesday, I'm hoping I'll get this sickness gone. We're going to state - that's all that matters."
Sequim may be without the services of Ohnstad, a strong senior who Huff said may have a stress fracture.
After finishing the runner-up three straight years (2002-2004), Sequim's girls have ruled the West Central District meet, earning titles in 2005, 2006, 2007 and this year.
Sequim's boys followed back-to-back seventh-place finishes in 2004 and 2005, with a district title in 2006 and third-place finish last year.