More than 300 runners competed in each of the four varsity races Saturday afternoon during the 36th annual Hole in the Wall Invitational at Lakewood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

More than 300 runners competed in each of the four varsity races Saturday afternoon during the 36th annual Hole in the Wall Invitational at Lakewood High School. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Records fall at 36th annual Hole in the Wall Invitational

More than 4,000 runners descend Saturday on Lakewood High School for the massive cross-country meet.

ARLINGTON — Teams from Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, California, Nevada and all over Washington state descended Saturday on Lakewood High School for what’s grown into likely the largest annual high-school cross country meet in the Pacific Northwest.

The sheer size of the spectacle was particularly evident during the early portion of each race, when a seemingly never-ending mass of runners sped down a gravel hill and circled the school’s track in front of cheering fans and booming music from the stadium speakers.

A meet-record 125-plus high-school cross country teams competed in Saturday’s 36th annual Hole in the Wall Invitational, with nearly 1,500 runners split over the event’s four varsity races. Including middle-school and junior-varsity races, more than 4,000 runners took part in the day-long meet.

“I don’t know that anybody ever dreamed that it would be like this,” Lakewood coach and meet director Jeff Sowards said. “… It is not the 11-, 12-team meet that it was when we first started.”

King’s senior Naomi Smith (right) and Issaquah junior Julia David-Smith own the top two girls times in the entire state this season. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

King’s senior Naomi Smith (right) and Issaquah junior Julia David-Smith own the top two girls times in the entire state this season. (Kevin Clark / The Herald) Purchase Photo

And as the event’s top runners showed, this high-level meet was as much about quality as quantity.

Both the upper-division varsity boys and girls races were run at blistering paces and produced numerous state-ranked times. Seven of the state’s top nine girls times this season and five of the state’s top 11 boys times were run Saturday at the Hole in the Wall, according to

“The field of teams that’s here — I mean, this is probably going to be more competitive than the state meet,” Arlington coach Mike Shierk said.

Eisenhower senior Jonas Price won the boys upper-division varsity race in a scorching 14 minutes, 49.9 seconds, which is the 14th-fastest time in the nation this season. Kate Peters, a freshman phenom from Lincoln (Oregon), posted the 10th-fastest time in the nation, crossing the line in 16:58.7 to win the girls upper-division varsity race. Both runners handily set meet records on the 5,000-meter course.

“Those records today were really impressive,” Sowards said.


The most dramatic finish of the day came in the boys lower-division varsity race, which included runners whose teams had an average time of more than 18 minutes.

With both runners going stride for stride down the closing stretch of track in front of the stadium grandstands, Lynden senior Isaiah Ellis edged Lynnwood senior Micah Murphy by 0.1 seconds to claim the title.

Murphy settled for second place in the 432-runner race with a personal-best time of 15:53.8.

“I don’t have a very fast 100 (meters), so I tried to kick from 300 to see if I could drop him,” Murphy said. “But he just stayed right there, so props to him. It stung a little bit. … I was a little frustrated, but I was just glad I broke 16 (minutes) for the second time in a week. I’m excited for the postseason to start.”

Murphy ran through an injury for about four weeks last spring during track season before being diagnosed with a broken ankle. The injury cut into his summer training, but the Lynnwood standout certainly has recovered from the setback.

Murphy broke the 16-minute mark during last Saturday’s Twilight Invitational in Marysville, then trimmed a few more seconds off his time Saturday afternoon.

“(He has) big dreams for state, so this was a good step in that direction,” Lynnwood coach Stephanie Tastad said.


King’s senior Naomi Smith, the defending Class 1A state champion, took sixth place out of 316 runners in the girls upper-division varsity race with a time of 17:37.5.

It wasn’t quite the personal-best 17:21.7 that Smith ran in last week’s Twilight Invitational, which was the fastest girls time in the entire state heading into Saturday.

“Last week unfolded really well and she felt really comfortable,” King’s coach Rod Wilcox said. “This week didn’t feel as good, and the time showed that. … She really wanted to run with the big girls, and she just (came) up a little sick today and couldn’t do it. So she’s frustrated, but life goes on.”

Smith now holds the second-fastest time in the state this season and the fastest time in the 1A classification by more than 40 seconds. She’s one of just five girls in the entire state this year who have broken the 18-minute mark.

The top three finishers in Saturday’s girls upper-division varsity race each posted top-35 times in the nation.


Arlington sophomore Aiden Emerson placed 10th out of 380 runners in the boys upper-division varsity race with a massive personal best.

Emerson crossed the line in 15:34.0, which is tied for the fifth-fastest time in the 3A classification and for the 20th-fastest time in the entire state. His performance led the Eagles to an eighth-place finish out of 52 schools in the boys upper-division varsity team standings.

Emerson was sidelined earlier this season with iliotibial band syndrome, an overuse knee injury also referred to as IT band syndrome. He didn’t run his first race of the season until 16 days ago, but made up for lost time was his performance Saturday against some of the Pacific Northwest’s top runners.

“He’s wanting to make that next step, so this was a big deal,” Shierk said. “He wanted to have a good showing because this is the best teams in the state, some of the best guys. He’s dreaming big.”

“It gains my confidence,” Emerson said. “I have really big goals this year, and I was kind of doubting them. And now I have a new confidence in them.”


South Whidbey junior Kaia Swegler Richmond placed second out of 364 runners in the girls lower-division varsity race with a personal-best time of 18:50.5.

It was the 35th-fastest girls time in the entire state this season and the sixth-fastest in the 1A classification.


Jesuit High School of Portland, Oregon, won both the boys and girls upper-division varsity team titles.

The Jesuit boys, ranked No. 14 in the nation, finished 38 points ahead of second-place Bishop Blanchet in the team standings. On the girls side, Jesuit edged Lincoln (Oregon) by one point to claim the team title.

Full results

Talk to us

More in Sports

POLL RESULTS: “The Last Dance” was a big hit

Readers watched the 10-part documentary on the Chicago Bulls of the 90s, and they liked what they saw.

Silvertips notebook: Fonstad likely to return to Everett

The winger is not signing a pro contract with Montreal, meaning a return to the WHL is likely.

MG’s Knight named Gatorade state baseball player of year

Despite not having a season, the star junior was recognized as the top overall player in Washington.

Stay or go? Local senior college athletes face tough decision

Whether to accept the NCAA’s offer of an extra year due to the missed spring season isn’t black and white.

Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec speaks to reporters during the Pac-12 Conference women’s NCAA college basketball media day last Oct. 7 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Pivec won’t play in the WNBA during the 2020 season

The Atlanta Dream announce the Lynnwood High School product will sit out for personal reasons.

Kamiak names new boys basketball coach

Former Bishop Blanchet head coach and Edmonds-Woodway alum Joe DeGrazia replaces Brandon Corsi.

Felix Hernandez aims for 200 career wins and 3,000 strikeouts

But the COVID-19 pandemic is getting in the way of the former Mariner’s pitcher’s goals.

“The Last Dance,” a 10-part documentary produced by NBA legend Michael Jordan, is a 10-part series chronicling the Chicago Bulls’ run to the 1997-98 NBA championship, the franchise’s sixth title in eight seasons. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
POLL: Have you seen “The Last Dance,” and what’s your take?

The 10-part ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls has been a phenomenon of the pandemic.

Healthy George Karl starts podcast, may someday coach again

The ex-Sonics coach, who has survived cancer three times, talks about the time he offended Michael Jordan’s sensibilities.

Seahawks’ Wilson has a little ‘Air’ Jordan in him

Like the NBA great, the Seattle QB has shown he can use perceived slights to fuel his competitive fire.

Seahawks agree to deal with veteran running back

Carlos Hyde, who began his career in San Francisco, rushed for 1,070 yards for the Texans last season.

Readers believe Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm will be WNBA championship favorites when and if the 2020 season begins. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
POLL RESULTS: Storm expected to be WNBA title favorites

Nearly half the voters predicted Seattle to win the 2020 WNBA championship.