Led by senior Audrey Lichten (far right), Sequim’s girls cross country squad ran its way to a district-meet berth. Team members include (from left) Amelia Ohnstad, Natalie McMurray, Jasmine McMullin, Tina Schwarzwald and Lichten. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell
by MICHAEL DASHIELL
The end of the road for some, a fresh start for others.
Featuring some of the top runners in the state, the Olympic League cross country meet proved bittersweet for a handful of teams with postseason hopes, perhaps none more so than Sequim's boys.
The Wolves needed to finish in the top four among 2A schools to advance the entire team to the West Central District meet and a good shot at a state berth.
But Sequim finished fifth - edged out by rival Port Angeles, no less, by a handful of points - and, for the first time since 2003, the majority of the team stays home for districts.
Advancing based on individual times were senior Alex Jenkins, who finished ninth overall, and sophomore Adrian Clifford, who was 16th.
"It's so competitive," Sequim coach Harold Huff said, noting that the meet featured two odds-on favorites for state championships and several other top-10 athletes.
"There's no room for errors. The kids ran well. There's just a couple (of boys) that didn't have their best. They have to realize they can't go out and run their best all the time."
Sequim's girls, who thanks to late-season addition of exchange
student Tina Schwarzwald were able to field an official team with five runners, captured the fourth 2A seed to districts, led by veteran Audrey Lichten. The senior powered through the course in 19 minutes and four seconds, third overall behind league champ Marina Roberts of Kingston and North Kitsap star Reagan Colyer.
"I felt I ran really strong," Lichten said. "It was a fun race. I was just focusing on that (lead) group and seeing how I felt."
Lichten said she simply focused on the next runner in front of her, then worked to pass her, until it was just a three-way race with Roberts and Colyer.
Joining Lichten at districts will be Jasmine McMullin (19th at league meet), Natalie McMurray (52nd), Amelia Ohnstad (55th) and Schwarzwald (73rd).
For Sequim's girls, it's the ninth team district berth in as many seasons.
For Jenkins, it's his third district berth.
"This (league) race is intense," he said. "Every year it's gotten faster."
He has placed 20th at districts as a sophomore and sixth last season. His top finish at state was 43rd last season.
Clifford, a freshman, was 15th at last year's district meet.
"He (Adrian) just has to work on raw speed," Jenkins said. "He has amazing endurance."
The district race, one that includes runners from the Olympic League and South Puget Sound League, is at American Lake Golf Course in Tacoma on Saturday, Oct. 30.
The top five teams and 25 individuals at districts advance to the class 2A state meet, set for Nov. 6 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.