Three Bellevue-area high schools performed well at the 3A/2A KingCo Cross Country Championships on Oct. 24 at Lake Sammamish State Park.
Interlake: The Saints took home the 3A KingCo Championship trophy for both the boys and girls teams. The league championships cap off a perfect regular season for both teams, who went undefeated in league competition.
Interlake coach Brad Barquist said the team has put in a lot of work this season to consistently run so well.
“To be undefeated through the regular season is a product of trying to race hard and use every opportunity to improve and learn about ourselves,” Barquist said.
The top runners from the Saints girls teams were sophomore Rachelle Cormier, who placed sixth (20:17.77), senior Clarice Mauer in 11th (21:02.46) and senior Harinidhi Kesavarajan in 12th (21:27.34). For the boys team, junior Kaeden Brinkman finished second (16:45.84), senior Sasha Picciotto in third (16:46.62) and sophomore Sam Mahlman in fifth (16:53.23).
Barquist said both teams got off to strong starts and ran with heart at the KingCo championships.
“They train really hard and they raced really hard today,” Barquist said. “I’m super proud of them. I told them, ‘all you need to do today is give everything you’ve got.’ That’s what they did today and it was really fun to see.”
The Saints will be back at Lake Sammamish State Park for the Sea-King District 2 Cross Country Championship Meet on Nov. 2. Barquist said the Saints are excited to be competing on a familiar course for districts.
“Both teams are clearly excited about how the performance went today,” Barquist said. “I can say that only gives us confidence. The Metro schools are really good, so we’re going to have to do what we do, which is run as hard as we can and hope that the score at the end of the meet is in our favor, which is all we can do every time we race.”
Bellevue: Before a big meet, most cross-country runners want to warm up and become familiar with the course’s turns and unpredictable footing. Bellevue senior runner Katherine Forsberg’s pre-race ritual took an unexpected turn when she got stung by a bee minutes before the league championship.
“I’ve never been stung before,” Forsberg said. “I’m allergic to pollen and shellfish, so I didn’t know how it was going to affect me. But what I really thought was, ‘at least it’s not in my legs, so I can go out and give my best no matter what.’”
Despite the sting, Forsberg got off to a fast start and cruised to a win with a time of 18:46.24. Forsberg said she tries to get out to a quick start because it allows her to choose where she runs on the course.
Forsberg said the pain in her legs after the race drowned out the bee sting.
“I was hoping the pain would maybe distract me from the pain in my legs,” Forsberg said. “It kind of faded at the end as the pain in my legs took over.”
The Bellevue girls team finished in second amongst 3A teams at the meet to qualify for the district tournament on Nov. 2. Along with Forsberg, the top runners for the Wolverines were junior Linda Yan in ninth (20:51.74) and freshman Sara Evans in 18th (22:04.57).
The boys finished fourth amongst 3A teams, narrowly missing qualification. Seniors Gannon Forsberg (17:14.56) and Jack Feller (17:38.34) will compete as individual qualifiers at the district meet.
Forsberg said the Bellevue runners will look to rest before they compete at the district race.
“We’re really trying to focus and taper down our workouts so we can be fresh and really go out there and compete on this course again,” Forsberg said. “This will be good practice for next week.”
Sammamish: Even when Sammamish sophomore Hale Behan built an early lead in the boys league championship race, he was telling himself there were runners right behind him.
“I didn’t want to think about it,” Behan said. “If I thought about it, I would slow down. I wanted to pretend like they were right behind me. It helps me push myself.”
Behan finished first with a time of 16:33.18. He said he was happy with his time on a challenging course, especially in the last two miles after the course goes across the sand beach at Lake Sammamish State Park.
“The sand always sucks,” Behan said. “Once you get off it, you’re tired from it, so you know that you have to pick up the pace again and put yourself back on track to how you were doing before the sand.”
Going into an important meet, Behan said he was nervous, which is something he embraces.
“It helps me run faster,” Behan said. “Whenever I’m nervous, it gets all the chemicals going.”
The other top finishers for the Sammamish boys team included senior Tyler Thompson in 15th (17:35.01) and junior Joshua Post in 24th (17:49.46). For the girls team, sophomore Maddie Clinton placed 27th (22:30.94), junior Mia Onodera placed 28th (22:31.15) and freshman Tessa Pizzo placed 43rd (25:37.54).
The Totems will compete at the 2A Bi-District Championship meet on Nov. 2 at South Whidbey High School.