Lynnwood runner emerging star

LANGLEY — It took a little convincing to make Mawa Ali into a star.

But it didn’t take the Lynnwood sophomore long to shine through.

Ali finished third in the 3A District 1 championships Saturday at South Whidbey High School qualifying for the 3A state tournament held next weekend at Pasco.

“I feel like I just walked on the clouds,” a tired, yet excited Ali said after finishing the 5,000-meter race in 20 minutes, 7 seconds.

The lanky runner “mixed it up with the Squalicum girls,” said Lynnwood head coach Ryan Bartell.

Ali finished third in between four Squalicum runners, who finished first, second and fourth.

Squalicum, last year’s 3A state champ, repeated as district champion but wasn’t able to repeat its 2006 perfect score, thanks to Ali.

“We told her even before we got here that she should be able to run against those Squalicum girls,” Bartell said.

Ali didn’t compete last year, running solely for the track team. Bartell noticed she had a great stride and “glided across the track” and talked her into running for the cross country team.

Also qualifying for the 3A state tournament were Arlington’s Safa Pinkens (sixth) and Meadowdale’s Caroline Kratz (seventh), who finished 11th in 2006, one spot away from state qualifying.

Pinkens sixth-place finish helped lead the Eagles to their first 3A state tournament since 1998.

“They all worked together. That’s the goal mark. Our top runners (1-2) really stepped up,” Arlington head coach Mike Shierk said, referring to the sophomore Pinkens and 12th-place finisher, senior Sarah Rayner.

Arlington’s teamwork paid off as five Eagles finished in the top 17.

The Eagles missed out on last year’s 3A state tournament after finishing fourth in 2006.

“The difference between this year and last was that last year we said to go out and have your best race of the season. This year I told them let’s just go out there and run our race, just like we’ve done all season,’ Shierk said.

Cedarcrest surprises 2A field

The Cedercrest Red Wolves surprised everyone, including their coach in finishing third in the 2A District 1 championships and qualifying for the 2A state tournament for the first time in school history.

“You can say it’s a surprise. We’ve really progressed in the last couple of weeks. Two to three weeks ago it (going to state) is something we would’ve never said was a possibility,” Red Wolves head coach Bruce McDowell said.

Cedarcrest finished third behind state ranked teams Sehome (No. 2) and Bellingham (No. 3) and ahead of South Whidbey (No. 1) and Archbishop Murphy (No. 8).

“The girls are ecstatic, as am I. We thought we had a shot at fourth but we (exceeded) all team expectations,” the 14th year head coach said.

Freshman Cara Strodel led the Red Wolves with a fourth-place finish and teammates Katie Bunker and freshman Jessica Beam finished 10th and 11th, respectively.

Despite the disappointing fourth-place finish, South Whidbey qualified for its second consecutive state championship. The Falcons have been to state 17 of the past 18 seasons.

Sehome, last year’s 2A state champion, took first. Sehome’s sophomore runner Annie Moore crushed her own championship-record time of 18:41 set last year, finishing with a time of 18:28.

At South Whidbey H.S.

3.1 miles (5,000 meters)

For complete results go to www.watfxc.com.

3A girls

Team Scores (top two qualify for state meet)—1. Squalicum 27, 2. Arlington 58, 3. Mount Vernon 79, 4. Meadowdale 111, 5. Shorecrest 131, 6. Lynnwood 149, 7. Everett 155.

Top five runners for top two teams

Squalicum–1. B. Crossman 18:42, 2. Curl 20:00, 4. Herdman 20:31, 10. G. Crossman 21:07, 13. Delbecq 21:28.

Arlington–6. Pinkens 20:40, 12. Rayner 21:21, 14. Dorff 21:31, 15. Granado 21:32, 21. Ellsworth 21:58.

Other top 10 individuals who qualified for state

3. Ali (L), 5. Murray (MV) 20:37, 8. Benson (MV) 20:52, 9. Mayock (F) 21:03.

2A Girls

Team Scores (top four qualified for state meet)—1. Sehome 45, 2. Bellingham 58, 3. Cedarcrest 107, 4. South Whidbey 114, 5. Archbishop Murphy 136, 6. Mount Baker 148, 7. Lakewood 150, 8. Burlington-Edison 172, 9. Granite Falls 227, 10. Lynden 232, 11. Anacortes 316.

Top five runners for top four teams

Sehome–1. Moore 18:28, 3. Krieger 19:18, 9. McKenzie 20:07, 14. Steele 20:18, 18. Vigh 20:31.

Bellingham–2. Friday 19:02, 5. Jensen 19:42, 8. Cassidy 20:02, 20. Reynolds 20:34, 23. Thomas 20:50.

Cedarcrest–4. Strodel 19:32, 10. Bunker 20:09, 11. Beam 20:10, 29. Gunderson 21:15, Bawden 22:54.

South Whidbey–16. Habel 20:22, 19. Ca. Bosman 20:34, 27. White 21:09, 31. Co. Bosman 21:22, 35. Martin 21:26.

Other top-20 individuals who qualified for state

6. Dunn (LW) 19:47, 7. Moran (AM) 19:59, 12. Cushing (BE) 20:13, 13. Sierra (MB) 20:17, 15. VanZanten (L) 20:19, 17. Urbano (MB) 20:28.

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