PASCO — Sometimes making team history isn’t enough.
When members of the Jackson High School boys cross country squad trudged to the awards podium Saturday at the 2008 Washington State Cross Country Championships, their heads were tilted down and their facial expressions were grim.
Sure, the Timberwolves placed second in the Class 4A team standings — the program’s best finish ever. Yet they fell short of their ultimate goal.
Jackson of Mill Creek came in ranked No. 1 in the Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association 4A poll but had to settle for the runner-up trophy thanks to champion Mead of Spokane. Jackson lost by just eight points, tallying 106. Mead, ranked sixth in the coaches’ poll, scored 98 points to win its second consecutive title and its 14th since 1988.
Jackson was trying to end Spokane-area teams’ grip on the big-school state title. Since 1988 Mead, University and Ferris have won every big-school championship.
“Mead ran really well. I don’t really know what happened but you’ve got to hand it to them,” Jackson senior Ben Lance said. “I think our guys left it all out there. We just didn’t have it today.”
Lance (18th place) and junior Mitchell Briggs (20th) were Jackson’s top finishers on the 3.1-mile course at Sun Willows Golf Course. Redmond junior Mack Young was the individual winner, finishing in 15 minutes, 18 seconds.
Jackson maintained a fairly tight pack of six runners through the first third of the race but Mead’s top five ended up being a little stronger by the end. Ferris (110 points) placed third in what was a close three-team fight for first.
Signs of trouble came quickly, Jackson boys cross country coach Eric Hruschka said. The T-wolves didn’t seem engaged in the race from the start, he said. That was enough of an opening for Mead, whose Nos. 1 and 2 runners placed 11th and 12th.
Unlike Jackson, Mead ran a great race on the right day, Hruschka said: “I’m not surprised at all — defending state champions. They’re well-coached. The kids work really hard at Mead. They’re not going to give away the title easily.”
It was by far Mead’s best race of the season, Hruschka said. Last weekend Mead placed third at the District 5-8 meet and earned the district’s final state team berth.
This season Jackson won Wesco South and District 1 championships. It was also ranked No. 22 in the nation in the Nov. 6 Harrier Super 25 poll.
“We’ve had a great year. We need to focus on that,” said Hruschka. “The kids have worked hard and really have been a lot of fun to coach.”
The sting of not winning will likely linger with Jackson runners for a while though.
“It’s a little bit of a letdown right now,” Lance said, “because we were ranked first (in 4A) for so long.”
After Lance and Briggs, Jackson’s top finishers were Connor Frederickson (25th), Ian McLeod (27th) and Sean Roe (49th).
Top-20 4A individuals qualified for the Washington vs. Oregon Nike BorderClash Nov. 23 in Beaverton, Ore. Jackson’s Lance and Briggs made the cut, as did Shorewood’s Chip Jackson (15th) and Lake Stevens’ Scott Larson (19th).
Glacier Peak ninth in Class 3A boys race
In its first season, the Glacier Peak boys team entered the state meet ranked ninth in 3A. That’s exactly where the Grizzlies placed Saturday. Fueled by the strong finish of sophomore Jeff Bastian, Glacier Peak had four runners among the top 42 scoring individuals. Bastian was 16th overall in 16:09.
North Central of Spokane, ranked No. 1 in the country, decisively won the 3A team title. Its first five runners placed 2-3-4-5-10.
Shorecrest was 13th in the team standings. The Scots’ leaders were juniors Chris Freeborn (30th) and Joe McConaughy (31st).
Writer Mike Cane: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.