A youth movement is helping bolster Sequim High’s cross country squads that return their top individual runners from last season.
Last season — conducted earlier this calendar year — the Wolves’ girls had just enough racers to qualify for three of their four meets but still managed to post a 2-0-1 record.
It helps to have a two-time state runner in the fold. Now a senior, Riley Pyeatt looks to make up some lost ground after not having a full postseason in 2020-21.
Pyeatt placed 13th at the state 2A meet as a freshman and sixth as a sophomore. In last season’s truncated season she t cruised to individual wins in all four meets before racing to a second place finish at the combined Olympic League meet behind longtime friendly rival Lauren Larson of Port Angeles.
Assistant coach BJ Schade said Pyeatt isn’t the most vocal leader but rather sets the tone with her effort and personality.
“(She’s) definitely leading by example, a lot of enthusiasm,” he said.
The Wolves, who raced in the league final with just four competitors and didn’t qualify for a team score, get a boost in numbers despite losing Jessica German to graduation. Joining returnees Anastasia Updike (24th at league meet) and Aiden Shingleton (36th) are six newcomers, five of them ninth-graders.
Sophomore newcomer Kaitlyn Bloomenrader is pushing Updike for the team’s No. 2 spot, Schade said, but the team needs someone to step up into the No. 5 spot to be competitive with top teams.
On the boys side, freshman Colby Ellefson is back. He finished in the top three in all four meets and placed seventh overall at the Olympic League final. Junior Calem Klinger and senior Theo McMurray return as well, joined by eight newcomers, five of them incoming freshmen.
“A lot of kids have not been doing a lot of physical activity in the past year; the development’s not there,” Schade said. “I think that will be the same of all teams.
“I expect to see their times drop dramatically. There are some good athletes coming into (the season).”
The Wolves do lose several top boy runners from last season, including state racer Eli Gish to graduation.
Sequim opens the season on Sept. 11 at a jamboree at South Kitsap High that includes a four-person relay.
“Kind of a fun way to start,” Shade said.
The Wolves’ first meet on the Olympic Peninsula is the annual Salt Creek Invite near Port Angeles on Sept. 18, followed by a league meet at Port Angeles on Sept. 22 and a home meet (opponent to be determined) on Sept. 29.
The district final is Oct. 30 in University Place and the state 2A meet is Nov. 6 in Pasco.