Fall sports preview: Wolves cross country squads look to climb back to state

Fall sports preview: SHS cross country

Head coach: Harold Huff (16th season)

2016 finish: Boys — 6-2 in Olympic League, Olympic League meet champions; second at West Central District meet; 11th at 2A state meet; Girls — 7-1 in Olympic League, second at Olympic League meet; fourth at West Central District; 13th at 2A state meet

Top returnees: Boys — Murray Bingham (jr.), Alec Shingleton (jr.), Liam Byrne (jr.), Jazen Bartee (jr.), Riley Martin (jr.), Jakob Pyeatt (jr.). Girls — Kaitlyn Viada (jr.), Vita Olson (so.), Emily Silva (so.), Telicia Busby (sr.)

Key additions: Boys — Erik Christiansen (fr.), Eli Gish (fr.), Eric Holtrop (fr.), Brendan Jack (jr.), Fischer Jensen (jr.). Girls — Nathalie Arreguin (N/A), Maria Busby (so.), Jessica German (fr.)

SHS cross country 2017 schedule

Sept. 9 at Capital Invite (Olympia) TBA

Sept. 16 at Salt Creek Invite (PA) TBA

Sept. 20 at North Kitsap, Kingston 5 p.m.

Sept. 23 at 3-Course Challenge (Ore.) TBA

Sept. 27 at Port Townsend, Olympic 5 p.m.

Sept. 30 at Curtis Invite (U. Place) TBA

Oct. 4 vs. Bremerton, North Mason 5 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Port Angeles, Klahowya 5 p.m.

Oct. 19 Olympic League meet (PA) 5 p.m.

Oct. 28 West Central District meet TBA

Nov. 4 State 2A meet, Pasco TBA

Both of Sequim’s cross country squads look to overcome the loss of their top finisher from 2016 as they prep for another run at the state 2A meet this fall.

Coming off back-to-back-to-back top-five state finishes, Sequim’s boys took 11th place at state under interim head coach Michael Cobb last season.

This fall, however, Wolves will be without ace Ash Francis, who transferred out of state prior to his junior season.

“He’s such a neat kid — we just all miss him,” Sequim head coach Harold Huff says.

After a one-year head coaching absence — he reduced his role to an assistant in 2016 — Huff is back for his 16th season to lead the Wolves, and despite losing Francis, Huff says the Wolves look solid in 2017.

“I think most of them are healthy and in better shape than the beginning of last year,” he said. “It could be a good year.”

Returning is a solid core of juniors led by Murray Bingham, who raced to 20th place at state in 2016, along with juniors Alec Shingleton, Liam Byrne, Jazen Bartee and Jacob Pyeatt.

“I think if Murray stays healthy and has a good year, he’ll be on the podium at state,” Huff said.

The Wolves also have three solid freshmen in Erik Christiansen, Eli Gish and Eric Holtrop that will bolster the lineup this fall, Huff said.

In all, Sequim sees 24 boys vying for the top seven varsity spots.

“I think the boys will make it to state,” Huff said. “In terms of varsity boys team, (there are) at least three slots up for grabs. Capital (Invite, held Sept. 9) and Salt Creek (Sept. 16) will be important to see it all how it fits together. We can run more than seven in those — I’ll race eight or nine in varsity — and let them sort it out themselves.”

Sequim’s girls got a one-year boost from Morgan Bingham in 2016 as she helped the Wolves to a 13th place finish at state, but she graduated in June. Sequim also loses their No. 2 and 3 runners (Kiara Pierson and Noelle Bittner) this fall, so Sequim looks to returnees Kaitlyn Viada, a junior, and sophomores Vita Olson and Emily Silva to anchor the squad.

“They’re all in better shape than last year,” Huff said of the SHS girls team.

Sequim has sisters Telicia and Maria Busby, plus a pair of newcomers — freshman Jessica German and California transfer Nathalie Arreguin — to round out a rather spare squad.

“I think the girls could be solid,” Huff said. “We’re going to have a drop off losing Kiara, (but they) can be a reasonably solid team. They have to stay healthy. The coaches have to keep them healthy.”

Back to help the teams is Cobb, who coached the squads to state berths in 2016.

“We work together well,” Huff said. “The kids really worked well last year. So many of those kids were new, (especially) on the boys varsity.”

Sequim opened the season on Sept. 9 at the Capital Invite in Olympia. The Wolves compete at the Salt Creek Invitational in Port Angeles on Sept. 16.

The Wolves’ first league meet is set for Sept. 20 in Poulsbo against Kingston and host North Kitsap.

Sequim hosts one league meet this season: Oct. 5 against Bremerton and North Mason.

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