Arlington’s Brandon Moore finishes first in Saturday afternoon during the 3A District 1 Cross Country Championships at Lakewood High School in Arlington on October 30, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Arlington’s Brandon Moore finishes first in Saturday afternoon during the 3A District 1 Cross Country Championships at Lakewood High School in Arlington on October 30, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Moore leads Arlington to district cross country title

Brandon Moore wins the 3A boys race, the Eagles win the team title and Snohomish’s Paige Gerrard wins the 3A girls crown.

ARLINGTON — Brandon Moore spent most of the season in the shadow of standout teammate Aiden Emerson.

But on Saturday afternoon, Moore earned some bragging rights over his fellow Arlington senior and good friend.

And with it, he became a district champion.

Moore used a strong closing kick to take first place in the Class 3A boys race at the District 1 cross country championships, crossing the line in a personal-best 15 minutes, 36.75 seconds on the 5,000-meter course at Lakewood High School.

“One of my coaches kept saying, ‘Why not you?’” Moore said. “And that really just pushed me to keep going.”

Moore, Emerson and Shorecrest junior Luke Schmidt separated themselves from the field and spent much of the race in a three-runner pack up front. But with around 1,000 meters to go, Moore turned on the jets and pulled away.

Moore finished 2.7 seconds ahead of Schmidt, who placed second with a time of 15:39.46. And Moore finished 8.6 seconds ahead of Emerson, who took third in 15:45.38.

“He’s kind of taken second fiddle to Aiden for a good portion of the season,” Arlington coach Mike Shierk said. “So for him to kind of step in there and get some recognition, it’s wonderful for us to see.”

Moore and Emerson led the talent-laden Eagles to the district team title in dominant fashion.

Arlington senior Kiyoshi Hall placed fourth (16:13.57) and junior teammate Ryan Rushton took fifth (16:39.95), giving the Eagles four of the top five finishers in the 17-team race.

Arlington finished with 35 team points, which was a whopping 100 points ahead of the next-closest team.

“I’ve had to remind myself all season long to really, really appreciate what we have right now,” Shierk said. “We’ve got these guys that are so tough, and they all just run together in that pack. You just have to sometimes pinch yourself and remember what you’ve got and appreciate it. It’s pretty cool.”

With both Moore and Emerson being elite runners at the state level, Shierk said they have a good-natured rivalry between each other. Emerson has finished ahead of Moore in four of their other five meets this season.

“They definitely do complement each other in pushing one another,” Shierk said. “And on any given day, one guy can beat the other. It’s pretty cool, because that creates this intrasquad rivalry. So then next week, Aiden’s gonna want to get his spot back.”

Next week, both Moore and Emerson figure to be in the mix for top finishes at the state meet in Pasco. And as a team, the Eagles have their sights set on competing for the 3A state championship.

Saturday’s district title was another step toward that ultimate goal.

“This is something that we use as a stepping stone to go on to that next phase in state,” Shierk said. “We’re real focused on trying to win a state championship this year.”

Snohomish sophomore claims 3A girls title

Snohomish sophomore Paige Gerrard kicked it into high gear down the stretch and pulled away to claim the 3A District 1 girls title with a time of 18:36.1.

Gerrard finished 15 seconds ahead of Edmonds-Woodway senior Jemma Willcox, who came in second.

“I’ve always been told to try to get negative splits, and I think today was the day that I kind of figured out how to,” Gerrard said. “I’d always been trying, but it never really worked out. And so this time I kind of had to tell myself, ‘This is gonna be painful, but if you want this, you have to go for it.’

“I could feel the girl behind me maybe getting just a little tired, and I was like, ‘We’re gonna kick it. We’re gonna go, and we’re gonna give it all we got.’”

For Gerrard, it was a nice bounceback from last week’s Wesco 3A North championships. Gerrard won that race, but finished upward of 19 minutes for the first time this season.

“I feel like she’s really building each week still,” Snohomish coach David LeWarne said. “She had a great middle of the season, and I think she was a little bit bummed with how things went (last week) at Wesco. And so I think she was really getting back in the pilot’s seat and taking care of business again today, like she’s used to doing.

“She ran a real nice, controlled race, and then really opened it up and did a great job of adjusting the pace,” he added. “When the going got tough, she really cranked it up a notch. She ran just a fabulous race. She came up with her race plan, and she did a great job.”

Edmonds-Woodway girls capture 3A team title

Edmonds-Woodway cruised to the 3A District 1 girls team title, led by four runners who earned top-nine finishes.

Willcox led the way with a second-place finish, posting a personal-best time of 18:51.1. Fellow senior Sharon Gutierrez, who began running cross country just this past spring, finished close behind in fifth with a personal-best 18:57.4.

Stella Smith, a senior, placed eighth in 19:34.7. And sophomore Martina Landa took ninth with a personal-best 19:36.5 to round out the Warriors’ leading quartet.

Edmonds-Woodway finished with 52 points, which was 50 points ahead of second-place Stanwood.

“They’ve been just an awesome team to coach,” Warriors coach David Whalen said. “They have worked so hard. … They’re a really tight pack (and) they’re all best friends. So it’s really fun to watch them run.”

Whalen praised Willcox — now a three-time state qualifier — for her senior leadership.

“Jemma (is) a fantastic runner, but an even better person,” Whalen said. “She is everything that you would want in a runner on your team. … She really pulls the whole train together.”

Other top local runners and teams

— Kamiak senior Jackson Hammons placed third (15:53.4) in the 4A District 1/2 boys race, which was dominated by KingCo 4A runners and teams. Led by Hammons, the Knights were the lone Wesco 4A boys team to qualify for state. Kamiak placed fifth in the team standings and finished just four points ahead of sixth-place Redmond for the bi-district’s final state berth.

— The lone Wesco 4A girls team to qualify for state was Lake Stevens. The Vikings took fifth place in the 4A District 1/2 girls team standings to claim the bi-district’s final state spot. Lake Stevens was led by junior Alexis Buhman, who placed 13th and was one of four top-25 finishers for the Vikings.

— Behind district champion Arlington and runner-up Oak Harbor, it was an awfully tight battle for the final two state team berths in the 3A District 1 boys race. Snohomish finished in third place (153 points) and Meadowdale took fourth (154 points) to claim the final two state spots. Stanwood (156 points) and Shorewood (157 points) fell just shy of advancing to state.

— Stanwood senior Leia Jones placed third in the 3A District 1 girls race with a time of 18:53.1. Jones led the Spartans to a second-place finish in the team standings. In addition to district champion Edmonds-Woodway and runner-up Stanwood, the other 3A girls state-qualifying teams were Arlington, Snohomish and Shorewood.

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