Jefferson runners: On to state

For the entire season, senior Hailey Young was the leader of her young Jefferson cross country team. As the only senior, Young was a teacher who led by example. She helped the Raiders to an undefeated league season and a South Puget Sound League championship.

“Hailey is our motivator,” said teammate Tera Brockman. “She keeps us all together.”

But in Wednesday’s West Central District meet, it was the freshman and sophomore runners who pulled the weight of the team.

Young was the fourth Jefferson runner across the finish line, with freshman Jessica Schroeder, freshman Chelsea Dier and sophomore Brockman taking the first three places for the Raiders.

“If we make it to state it’ll be because they helped me, rather than me helping them,” Young said. “They did what needed to be done, since I didn’t do much for us today.”

Although Schroeder’s 26th place finish was the only time good enough to individually qualify for state, the Raiders’ team effort earned them a fifth-place finish in the team standings. That means Jefferson’s top seven runners all get to advance to the state meet Nov. 3 at Sun Willows Park in Pasco.

“They were a little worried about making state because they’re not used to this big of a race,” said Jefferson coach Paul Ruston.

It is the first time Jefferson girls cross country team qualified for the state meet.

“It’s really a tribute to our captain, Hailey Young,” Ruston said. “This is a result of her leadership and her desire for the team to be real good. She’s kind of come full circle with the team. She was on a team that wasn’t very successful at all, now she’s on a team that is going to state. Because of her leadership, they’ve risen to that kind of level.”

“It’s nothing like you expect,” Schroeder said. “I expected pressure, but once we were on the course it felt like a normal race. When I was running, I didn’t even notice the weather. My mind wasn’t on the rain.”

In the boys race, Decatur junior Chris Williams was the only local runner to qualify for state. He finished 16th, running the 3.1 mile course in 16:14.

“I wanted to be top 10,” Williams said. “I got a bad start and got toward the back, then had to work my way back up. I feel like I keep holding back a little. I don’t feel tired at the end of the race. Mentally, it’s hard for me to push myself. But I gotta do it at state.”

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