Sports

Jefferson girls finish fourth at state meet

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

The Thomas Jefferson girls cross country team got their wish.

The Raiders got to stand on the podium after finishing in fourth place at the Class 4A State Cross Country Championships Saturday at the Sun Willows Golf Course in the Tri-Cities. Only the top-four team placers at state get on the podium.

“They were very excited,” said head coach Paul Ruston. “I think that this really validates how good the team is. I think it was important for the seniors to be able to stand up on the awards stand.”

Bellarmine Prep finished first with 84 total points, followed by Gig Harbor and two-time defending champions, Snohomish, in fourth with 90 points. Jefferson finished with 138 team points to outdistance fifth-place Tahoma.

“It was just perfect racing conditions,” Ruston said. “It is a really well done meet.”

The 5-kilometer course is run entirely on the Sun Willows Golf Course, which is deceptively hilly. The race included a 150-girl field.

Kenna Patrick led the seven-girl Jefferson pack during the state championships. The sophomore finished up in eighth place overall in a time of 18:58 over the course at Sun Willows.

Bellarmine Prep senior Brie Felnagle set a state-championship record, winning the race in 17:53.

Patrick ran with the top pack during the entire race, never falling below 10th place. It was also the first time she broke the 19-minute mark in a 5K race.

Raider senior Jessica Schroeder followed in 18th place in a time of 19:16. Junior Hilorie Hildebrandt finished in 34th (19:31), Natalie Jarvey was 78th (20:17), Chelsea Dier was 80th (20:21), Erin Schroeder was 96th (20:31) and Meridith Dyer was 106th (20:42) for Jefferson.

“We had a stronger performance than we did at West Central District meet,” Ruston said. “We had our best race of the season at state and that’s what you are shooting for.”

The fourth-place finish is the best in the history of Thomas Jefferson cross country. The Raiders ended up seventh at last year’s meet. Saturday’s race was the last for three seniors, Jessica and Erin Schroeder and Dier, who have run at four consecutive state meets.

“We have improved a little bit each year,” Ruston said. “We have had more of a blue-collared effort to get to where we are at. We have kind of been knocking on the door for a while now.”

The performance by the TJ team overshadowed some strong runs by other Federal Way School District athletes in the girls’ race. Beamer junior McKinley Williams finished her season with a solid 39th-place finish in a time of 19:36. Decatur junior Becky Williams finished 61st in 20:00 and teammate Kim Barney ended up 95th overall in 20:30. Federal Way sophomore Carmen Acuna was 64th in 20:03.

The top-20 individual finishes by Patrick and Jessica Schroeder at the state meet qualifies the TJ pair for next week’s 2004 Nike Border Clash in Beaverton, Ore. The invitation-only meet pits the top cross country runners from Washington against Oregon’s top runners in a dual-meet format. The Border Clash will be held at Nike’s World Headquarters on Nov. 21.

“It’s a really tough meet to get into,” said Ruston. “It’s quite an honor.”

Hildebrant ran at the 2003 Border Clash after finishing 17th at last year’s state championships.

Church finishes 97th

Jefferson junior Erik Church ended up 97th in the Class 4A Boys State Championships Saturday in the Tri-Cities. Church, the lone qualifier from the Federal Way School District, finished the 5-kilometer race in 16:58. Kamiak’s Kelly Spady won the race in 15:24.

The state championships ended a solid season for Church. The junior swept through the SPSL South regular season unbeaten.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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