PASCO — Brandon Moore sure picked a good time to run the best races of his high school career.
Last week, the Arlington senior standout claimed the district title in a personal-best time.
And on Saturday, Moore shaved a couple more seconds off his top time.
The result? A second-place state medal.
Moore comfortably finished as the runner-up in the Class 3A boys state cross country championships, completing the hilly 5,000-meter race at Sun Willows Golf Course in a personal-best 15 minutes, 34.1 seconds.
As he crossed the finish line, Moore celebrated by raising his arms in the air and then delivering an emphatic fist pump.
“It was a good feeling coming down the home stretch just knowing all the hard work paid off,” Moore said. “I was just on a high right there.”
Moore entered the state meet with the 11th-fastest 3A boys time in the state at 15:36.8, which he ran during a first-place finish in last week’s 3A District 1 Championships.
“I was really just shooting for like a top-10, top-five finish,” Moore said. “And then getting second, I just really surprised myself.”
Moore finished 17 seconds behind Bishop Blanchet junior and state champion William Schneider, who is tied for the 27th-fastest high school boys time in the nation this season, according to Athletic.net.
But Moore also put some distance between himself and the rest of the field, crossing the line 8.1 seconds ahead of the third-place finisher.
Moore posted the fifth-fastest time out of all five boys state championship races Saturday. The four runners who ran faster times than him are each ranked among the top 40 in the nation.
“He got after it, tucked in there and beat some of the freakin’ toughest guys in the state,” longtime Arlington coach Mike Shierk said. “… He looked strong the entire way. He had no sign that he was fatigued. So I was really proud of him. He was impressive.
“I told him, ‘You hold your head high (and) stick your chest out walking around like you just did something really incredible,’” Shierk added. “Because he did.”
Shierk has coached Moore since middle school. In eighth grade, Moore ran a 4:39 mile, which was one of the fastest times in the nation for his grade. As a sophomore, he placed 33rd at state and helped the Eagles to a fourth-place team trophy.
And as a senior, Moore capped his prep career by matching the best finish in program history. Shierk said he thinks the only other Arlington boys runner to place second at state was Nathan Beamer in 2015.
“It got a little bit emotional for me watching him going up that hill and starting the corner there to get ready to finish, because I’ve seen him since he was a young man and coached him all these years,” Shierk said. “And so (I saw) him kind of living out his dreams there.”
Moore led the Eagles to a seventh-place finish in the 3A boys team standings. Fellow Arlington senior standout Aiden Emerson also earned a spot on the podium, placing 10th with a time of 16:12.3.
However, the seventh-place finish was a bit of a disappointment for the Eagles. Arlington, which cruised to the district title last week in dominant fashion, had aspirations of competing for the state championship.
“Not all of our guys had their best race today,” Shierk said. “And if you’re gonna win it, everybody has got to have their best day.”
But it was also the seventh consecutive top-10 state finish for the Eagles, who have developed into one of the state’s premier 3A boys programs.
“Any time you’re finishing top 10, that’s a huge, major accomplishment,” Shierk said. “There’s teams that are just dying to finish like that.
“And so today, they’re probably gonna be the most down and dejected seventh-place team in the state. … But that’s just because they had big goals and they were dreaming big.”
Snohomish sophomore places 6th in 3A girls race
Paige Gerrard had quite the state debut.
The Snohomish sophomore standout took sixth place in the 3A girls race, crossing the line in 18:51.8 during her first appearance on the challenging 5,000-meter course.
“It was definitely a big accomplishment,” Gerrard said. “I definitely was hoping to do something like top 10. Getting sixth was achieving my goal, and so that makes me really, really excited and really happy.”
Gerrard was in 13th place at the one-mile mark, but moved up to sixth by the two-mile mark and held her position the rest of the way. She finished just eight seconds out of third place.
Kennewick senior Macy Marquardt, who owns the 23rd-fastest high school girls time in the nation, won the race in a scorching 17:31.6 and finished nearly an entire minute ahead of the rest of the field.
“(Paige) coming over here — having never been here before — and being in the top six is pretty awesome,” Snohomish coach David LeWarne said. “She really performed strong, and she just really stuck to her own race and what she’s been doing — just running that second half hard. (She) just was consistent and persistent, and that’s what kind of propelled her to her finish.”
Though she hardly showed it, Gerrard said it was probably the most challenging race of her young career.
“When I first started cross country, one of my coaches said that state is all uphill,” she said. “I did not believe it for a second. And then I get here and I raced, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, it really is all uphill.’
“It definitely was a challenge. It definitely was a whole mental game trying to keep going — trying to tell my legs to go faster, even when I was pushing and struggling to even get up that hill.”
It capped an impressive sophomore season for Gerrard, who won the 3A District 1 title last week in 18:36.1. She also ran a personal-best 18:20.1 in the prestigious Hole in the Wall Invitational at Lakewood High School last month. And one week prior to that, she ran an 18:25.0 at the Twilight Invitational in Marysville.
“She did a great job just being consistent over the course of the season,” LeWarne said. “So I think that really played into her hands, because she learned from all of her races. She could take a little bit away from each race and then really put the pieces together today.”
Other top local finishers
— Kamiak senior Jackson Hammons placed ninth in the 4A boys race with a time of 16:17.2. He led the Knights to a 14th-place finish in the 4A boys team standings.
— Edmonds-Woodway took eighth place in the 3A girls team standings. Four Warriors finished in the top 80 of the race, led by the senior duo of Jemma Willcox and Sharon Gutierrez. Willcox placed 15th (19:13.2) and Gutierrez came in 30th (19:39.7).
— Lake Stevens took ninth place in the 4A girls team standings. Four Vikings finished in the top 75 of the race, led by junior Alexis Buhman in 39th place (19:45.2).
— Monroe junior Alexis Canovali-McKenzie earned the final podium spot in the 3A girls race with a 16th-place finish (19:16.7).
— Shorecrest junior Luke Schmidt placed 18th in the 3A boys race (16:23.0).
— Granite Falls senior Elie Bassett finished 18th in the 1A girls race (20:14.2).