PASCO — Throughout significant portions of her distance-running career, Aviry Stratton has battled an iron deficiency that’s kept her from competing at her best.
After another recent bout with low iron, the Glacier Peak High School senior likely wasn’t at her highest level of performance Saturday. As her coach said, she was probably at about “90 percent.”
But for the resilient Stratton, that was still good enough for a high spot on the state podium.
Stratton placed fourth in the Class 4A girls race with a season-best time of 18 minutes, 26.7 seconds at the state cross country championships Saturday on the 5,000-meter course at Sun Willows Golf Course.
“It was pretty exciting, because this season hasn’t really been what I’d hoped for,” Stratton said. “I’ve been struggling with low iron, so I was really happy to end the season this way. … I was really excited.”
Stratton said she was diagnosed with iron deficiency during a particularly trying sophomore cross country season. She’d reached state as a freshman, but didn’t make it out of district as a sophomore.
“She’s a tough kid and she’s so competitive, and it hurts her when she can’t do as well as she knows she can do,” Glacier Peak coach Dan Parker said.
Stratton’s iron level fell again last year, but she still managed to deliver a gutsy performance at the state meet, placing 19th to help the Grizzlies claim the 4A state crown.
“She was 75 percent maybe at state (last year), but still she persevered,” Parker said. “She ran her heart out and … helped her team win state.”
Stratton got off to a strong start this season, but once again her iron level plummeted. Like she has in the past, Stratton received an iron infusion about two or three weeks ago. However, Parker said it usually takes at least several weeks after an infusion for one’s iron level to replenish.
“The past few months have kind of been rough, just not being where I want to be as far as time and place,” Stratton said. “… My teammates have been so encouraging. They’re just so positive with me and helped me get through it.”
After all of the struggles and frustration, Stratton ended her prep cross country career in impressive fashion Saturday. She ran the second-best time of her career and was less than five seconds away from a second-place finish.
“That was superb,” Parker said. “It was a great way to go out.”
Glacier Peak senior Alexis Palmer, meanwhile, placed eighth. Stratton and Palmer led the defending state champion Grizzlies to a sixth-place team finish.
“That one-two punch was great for us,” Parker said.
KING’S STAR PLACES 2ND
King’s senior and defending 1A girls state champion Naomi Smith claimed her third consecutive state medal, placing second in her classification with a time of 18:24.00.
Smith, who led the Knights to a sixth-place team finish, entered with the second-fastest time in the state this season regardless of classification and the 47th-fastest time in the nation.
The King’s standout led Colville senior Alaina Stone — last year’s state runner-up — at the one-mile mark. But after tripping on the hilly course about midway through the second mile, Smith fell behind.
Smith recovered to take a slight lead at the two-mile mark, but ran out of gas down the stretch. Stone pulled away to win the state title in 17:39.6, finishing nearly 45 seconds ahead of Smith.
“I think that kind of messed up my mojo a little bit, … and trying to catch up with her took a lot of energy,” Smith said of her fall. “… And I think that when we got to the end, she just had a little bit more left in the tank.”
GRANITE FALLS RUNNER PLACES 3RD AGAIN
Granite Falls senior Isaac Cortes earned his second consecutive third-place state medal with a personal-best time of 16:03.0 in the 1A boys race.
Cortes, a four-time state qualifier, improved his top time every season of his prep career.
“He didn’t race his best during the middle of the season, but he kept just grinding and grinding and grinding,” Granite Falls coach Steve Lantz said. “He’s got such a big heart, and that’s what carried him today. He just finished really strong. We couldn’t be happier.”
SOUTH WHIDBEY BOYS TAKE 4TH
South Whidbey placed fourth in the 1A boys team standings to claim its first state trophy since 2003.
Falcons coach Doug Fulton said his team was in sixth place at the two-mile mark, but made up ground during the final mile to grab the final spot on the podium. Michael Harwell, a senior, placed 24th to lead South Whidbey.
“It’s hard to move that late in a race from sixth to fourth and make up so many points, but they really battled strong,” Fulton said. “… We just charged real hard down the stretch and got it done, so (it was) pretty exciting.”
In the 1A girls race, South Whidbey junior Kaia Swegler Richmond earned a sixth-place state medal.
OTHER NOTABLE PLACINGS
Jackson took fifth place in the 4A boys team standings. The Timberwolves were led by junior Brenden Charbeneau, who placed 14th.
Edmonds-Woodway senior Ellie Gard claimed an eighth-place state medal in the 3A girls race, leading the Warriors to a sixth-place team finish.
Making its first-ever state appearance as a team, Marysville Getchell placed eighth in the 3A girls team standings. The Chargers were led by junior Jasmine Nguyen, who finished 15th.
King’s sophomore Nick LeBar placed eighth in the 1A boys race.