No. 1 Snohomish girls are focused on their own fate

By AARON COE

Herald Writer

In recent years, Snohomish girls cross country runners have had one thing on their minds.

Beat Marysville-Pilchuck.

Snohomish’s Mary Malgesini said that when the team decided to quit worrying about their Western Conference 4A rivals and concentrate on themselves, it made them better.

This Saturday, at the state cross country meet in Pasco, the top-ranked Panthers will find out just how far they’ve come, along with several other area teams and individuals who could come home with hardware.

“We want to not worry about Marysville and focus on state,” said Malgesini, who finished sixth at the Oct. 27 bi-district meet to lead Snohomish to victory. “Marysville has a very strong team. When we beat (previously No. 1 ranked) Eisenhower earlier this year, we decided not to worry about Marysville any more.”

To forget about the No. 3 Tomahawks completely, Malgesini knows, could be a mistake. The Tomahawks, who were second at the bi-district meet, don’t have quite as much depth as they did when they won the state title in 1998 and were runnerups in 1999. But they do have Camille Connelly, who finished sixth at state last year.

Kamiak, which finished third at the bi-district meet, will also fight for a trophy.

Led by twin sisters Zoe and Chenoa Urness, the No. 6 Stanwood girls are contenders, as are the No. 10 boys.

South Whidbey may need to clear some room on the bus for trophies before its return trip from the state meet. The Falcons have a realistic shot at two team titles and and an individual championship.

Braden Giswold placed fifth at the 1999 meet. Three of the runners ahead of him graduated, and the senior has already beaten the lone holdover.

South Whidbey has the third-ranked Class 2A team, and the girls, led by Lisa DePender, are No. 2.

“Braden has run against everybody that’s in this race,” South Whidbey coach Tim Gordon said. “He’s got a good chance. And there is no dominant team this year, like there has been in the past. It’s going to come down to who runs the best on Saturday.”

The Lakewood boys, who beat South Whidbey on a tiebreaker at the North Cascades and bi-district meets, are ranked second in the state, and will challenge South Whidbey and East Valley (Yakima) for the team title.

Jackson doesn’t have a dominant boys runner, but has five very good ones. The Timberwolves’ depth could put them in contention for the Class 3A state title. Evan Wirkkala, Corey Nuro and Devin Paschke each finished in the top five of the Northwest District meet. Jordan Hamm and Brandon Renfrow finished in the top 20. The Jackson girls, led by Brittany Duke also will compete in Pasco.

The Snohomish boys were upset by Shorecrest at the bi-district meet. Both schools are ranked in the top 10 and hope to finish in the top five at state.

King’s, currently ranked second, will attempt to win its second straight boys title on Saturday. The No. 4 King’s girls are also a threat for a title.

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