The pack stays together during the early portion of the Men’s Elite run during the Hole in the Wall Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Lakewood High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The pack stays together during the early portion of the Men’s Elite run during the Hole in the Wall Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Lakewood High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Over 5,100 athletes turn out for 40th Hole in the Wall Invitational

Stanwood’s Mary Andelin finishes first in the women’s gold race. The Arlington girls placed first as team in same division.

ARLINGTON — The 40th Hole in the Wall Invitational drew in a record-breaking number of cross country runners for the second straight year.

Over 5,100 runners from across the region took part in races over the weekend at Lakewood High School for one of the premier meets in the Pacific Northwest, eclipsing 4,900-plus entries from a year ago.

“I thought the athletes were awesome,” Lakewood coach and meet director Jeff Sowards said. “I think it was warmer than what cross country runners like and most of the issues we dealt with today were related to heat and dehydration, but I think the racing was really dense and everybody had somebody to race. … But if you asked me to pick the highlight of the meet, that’s the 160-plus volunteers that helped put it on. They’re the ones that make this thing happen. On the day of, I just get to push play.”

During the high school races throughout Saturday, the 80-plus degree heat in Arlington was a meet record and proved to be a hindrance to more than a handful of runners looking for a new personal best. The varsity races included men’s and women’s Silver, Gold and Elite divisions.

“Some kids did PR today,” Sowards said. “Though, later in the day, it was harder. Some of the best runners we had were definitely affected by the heat. .. When we come back here in a few weeks to host the district championships, the temperature’s gonna be a whole lot different. It’ll be cross country weather, and I bet you’ll see some of the same kids who ran today and were a bit slower than they wanted, will be able to run it a whole lot faster.”

The Elite races featured some of the best runners in the country, including nationally ranked Mercer Island stars Owen Powell (No. 22) and Sophia Rodriguez (No. 23), along with the seventh-ranked Nathan Neil from Bozeman High School in Montana.

Sowards said that the 13-race schedule for the high school level, in addition to the two races held on Friday for middle schools, may end up being tweaked in the next edition as the event continues to grow in popularity and volume.

“It’s a cool problem,” Sowards said. “We want to make sure that its fair racing, we can’t put 1,000 people on the starting line and expect them to have a fair race. We’ll probably add a division next year, just so some of the racers aren’t quite as crowded. But again, that’s a good problem to have.”

STANWOOD SOPHOMORE TAKES FIRST IN WOMEN’S GOLD RACE

Stanwood runner Mary Andelin enters the final stretch while she cruises to a first place finish in the Women’s Varsity Gold run during the Hole in the Wall Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Lakewood High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Stanwood runner Mary Andelin enters the final stretch while she cruises to a first place finish in the Women’s Varsity Gold run during the Hole in the Wall Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Lakewood High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mary Andelin took home a first-place finish in the women’s gold race in convincing fashion. The sophomore standout ran the 5,000-meter course in 18 minutes, 38 seconds in a 215-runner field, finishing 11.9 seconds faster than second-place runner Dahna Kim of Lincoln (Seattle).

Andelin, who played soccer for the Spartans last fall, posted a personal-best time of 18:34.6 at the Nike Portland meet on Sept. 30.

“It was definitely really hot,” Andelin said. “It was hard to get in the right mindset, but once I feel like once I got started, that I was just in it. The gravel did kinda hurt my knees because I’ve been out a little bit this year. But, It was really fun, it was hard and I think I pushed myself. Honestly, I didn’t want to let anyone pass me, I was just telling myself, ‘do your best.’ It was part of my motivation to keep pushing.”

ARLINGTON CLAIMS TEAM VICTORY IN WOMEN’S GOLD

The Eagles had a healthy group of runners who placed in the top third of the women’s gold run, compiling a 156 points, which finished just five points in front of Lincoln (Seattle) and Tahoma.

Junior Brooke Henkin finished 10th, pacing Arlington with a time of 19:17.4, while freshman Annabelle Klein came in 14th, finishing in 19:27.4.

Reda Long, Amelia Potong and Raelyn Oetzel all placed in the top-70 in a field of 215 participants.

“I’m happy they all ran well,” assistant coach Jon Murray said. “They didn’t meet all of their goals individually, but I think as a team they did really well. Brooke and Annabelle ran next to each other for most of the race and pushed each other, too.”

Murray also pegged the heat of the early-October weekend as a challenge throughout the day.

“The heat was almost unbearable for some parts of the races, but my team worked through it and other racers worked through it. It was better for those earlier races, it was hard for us to push through that.”

OTHER TOP LOCAL PLACERS

Meadowdale senior Payton Conover placed fourth in the women’s gold, finishing the course in18:52.7.

Snohomish senior Paige Gerrard finished ninth in the women’s gold with a time of 19:14.0.

Everett senior Lucie Buchanan placed fifth in the women’s silver race with a time of 19:52.6.

Arlington junior Beau Pearson placed seventh in the men’s silver run, finishing in 17:02.0.

Everett junior Isaac Pratt finished 11th in the men’s silver with a time of 17:09.2.

Kamiak senior Will Lesyna placed 16th in the men’s gold with a time of 16:28.7.

OTHER NOTABLE TEAM FINISHES

Shorewood took fifth place in the women’s silver with 313 points.

Arlington placed fifth in the men’s silver with 255 points.

Everett finished 10th in the men’s silver with 342 points.

Kamiak placed eighth in the men’s gold with 276 points.

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