With some of the top-ranked teams from Washington at Lakewood High School for Saturday's prestigious Hole in the Wall Cross Country Invitational, the team that had to travel the least was able to put two runners in the top 15 and tied for fourth place in the boys' top event. In all, 85 schools competed in 12 races in what is the state's largest cross country invitational.
"That's the boys best collective race of the season," Lakewood head coach Jeff Sowards said. "I'm really proud of that. Every one of the boys, I think, (had a personal best time) today."
One of the top teams with a No. 2 ranking in the 2A classification, Lakewood's effort was spearheaded by junior Douglas Davis, who finished 10th overall in the boys varsity top class race. The Cougars finished with 194 points, tied with Bellevue for fourth behind team champion Bellarmine Prep (129), Garfield (187) and Kamiak (188) in the 30th installment of the Hole in the Wall Invitational.
Davis finished the five-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 57.4 seconds, his time setting a school record by one second. Right behind Davis was teammate Mitchell Darrah, who finished 12th with a time of 16:02.7.
Drew Cabales (35th), Alex Cooper (73rd), Preston Davis (87th), Connor Smith (102) and Jake Ryan (160) also ran for Lakewood in the Boys 'A' Varsity Race that included more than 225 runners.
Fourth place, "when you consider how many quality teams that are here, is great," Sowards said.
While most teams had to commute to Lakewood and set up their teams tents to shelter them from the wind, which picked up later in the meet, the Cougars got to use their regular locker rooms and enjoy familiar surroundings Saturday.
Sowards said that the Lakewood boys team looked right at home, although he believes the Cougars would have run well anywhere.
"This team of boys is prepared to go and race any place," Sowards said. "They're like a band of brothers. They're always hanging out. They just love each other like brothers."
Lake Washington's Devon Grove won the top boys race with a time of 15:30.8. Nine seconds behind him in second place was Edmonds-Woodway junior Miler Haller (15:39.7), who topped his personal best time by about five seconds.
Haller was thrilled to be at the front of the pack in a race that featured so many talented runners.
"It means a lot," Haller said. "I know that the first guy is one of the top guys in the state. Knowing I'm able to run second and compete with these guys makes me feel great."
Other top local finishers included King's Andrew Ayers, who finished right behind Haller with a time of 15:45, and Oak Harbor's John Rodeheffer (15:45.3), who was fourth.
In the girls top varsity race, two young sisters shined for Lynnwood High School's team. Mikayla and Malia Pivec both finished in the top 15 for the Royals, who finished 16th overall.
Mikayla (18:55.9) finished 10th in the race, after stumbling and falling near the finish line. She recovered quickly and completed the short distance remaining.
"I think it was one of those moments where she just met a limit -- whether it was a little bit dehydration or fatigue," Lynnwood coach Stephanie Tastad said of her runner's stumble. "It's a good learning experience for her. You can never tell exactly (what happened). She recovered OK."
Tastad estimated that Mikayla was in fourth before the fall, and said that is what she should focus on. The fall hurt more mentally than physically, Tastad said.
"I know she's a little disappointed by the fall," Tastad said. "We're very proud of her. She did very, very well.
"She'll make a full recovery from the day for sure. I think it was one of those runners' moments you hope you never have but you have to have in order to grow as a runner and gain that experience. I told her you can let it bother you for a little bit, like a day, but then get over it. The best is yet to come for her."
Finishing five spots behind Mikayla was her sister, Malia, who crossed the finish line 15th with a time of 19:06.1. Malia, a freshman, and her sister look to be stars for the Lynnwood cross country team for the foreseeable future.
"Oh my goodness, I'm the luckiest coach in the world to be able to sit back and watch these two," Tastad said. "They're two special girls. Their work ethic and personality, it's just fun to be able to coach them. They are talented young ladies."
The Bellarmine Prep girls won the team title with 84 points, giving the Lions a sweep at the Hole in the Wall Invitational. Sehome (105), Liberty (192) and Glacier Peak (198) rounded out the top four. Sehome was the 2A state champion and Glacier Peak was the 3A state champion last season.
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