Jefferson girls run away with SPSL cross country championship

The Thomas Jefferson girls cross country team got a little revenge Thursday afternoon at the South Puget Sound League 4A championships at Fort Steilacoom Park.

The Raiders won the 16-team league championship by edging the Tahoma Bears, 41 to 47. This is the same Tahoma team that snapped the Raiders’ six-year stranglehold of the SPSL division championship earlier this season. Tahoma finished 7-0 in the SPSL North and Jefferson ended up 6-1 with their only loss coming at the hands of the Bears. The loss during the regular season was also the Raiders’ first SPSL defeat since 2001.

But Thursday, Jefferson used its depth to take out Tahoma.

The Raiders were led by the running of Vanessa Bennum, Camryn Patrick and Cassidy Robey. Bennum finished third over the 3.1-mile course at Fort Steilacoom Park in a time of 19:55.97 and was followed in fourth by Patrick (20:01.47). Robey ended up in fifth (20:04.20).

Tahoma’s Hannah Mittelstaedt led the Bears with a second-place finish behind Curtis’ Erika Martin, but the Bears’ second runner finished in seventh, well behind the Raider threesome.

The Thomas Jefferson girls team will be joined at the West Central District Meet at the American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood on Saturday by the Beamer girls. The Titans finished in sixth place with 167 total points. This is the second year in a row Beamer has qualified for the district meet as a team.

Federal Way’s Jasmine Johnson will also be in contention for snaring an individual berth to the state championships in Pasco. Johnson finished in sixth-place overall Thursday in a time of 20:07.94.

Decatur’s Justin Englund led a strong group of Federal Way district boys at the SPSL meet on Thursday at Fort Steilacoom Park. Englund ended up in fourth place over the 3.1-mile course in a time of 16:23.08. Jefferson’s Jeff Backlund finished seventh in 16:38.69 and Decatur’s Justin Helm was eighth in a time of 16:45.96.

Jefferson ended up seventh as a team with 186 points. Tahoma won the team title with 35, Decatur was eighth and Decatur finished ninth.

The top-30 individual finishers and the top-six teams at the West Central District Meet will advance to the Class 4A State Championship Meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco on Nov. 3. The TJ girls finished second at the state meet last year.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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