Thomas Jefferson girls cross country: Eighth state meet in a row

The Thomas Jefferson girls are headed back to the Class 4A State Cross Country Championships. The Raiders finished fifth at Saturday’s West Central District Westside Classic at American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood.

This will be the eighth year in a row that the TJ girls have qualified to run as a team at the state championships. The Raiders’ highest finish came in 2006 when they finished in second place behind Gig Harbor. That is the same year the Raiders’ Kenna Patrick won the individual state title.

Jefferson’s depth proved to be the difference at Saturday’s Westside Classic district meet. The Raiders had four runners finish in the top 31 during the race on a tough course at American Lake.

Vanessa Bennum led the way with a 23rd-place finish in a time of 19:32.2. Bennum was followed by teammates Lacey Printz in 27th place (19:42.6), Monica Jaenicke in 30th (19:55.1) and Camryn Patrick in 31st (19:55.8).

Nobody could keep up with the No. 1-ranked Gig Harbor Tides, who won going away with 52 total points, at Saturday’s district meet. Tahoma finished second (96), Curtis was third (139) and Olympia ended up in fourth place, one point in front of TJ. Bellarmine Prep snared the last team berth to state with a sixth-place finish.

Beamer ended up in eighth place with 204 points, led by sophomore Taylor Kartes and freshman Sara Mussa. Kartes finished 12th overall in a time of 19:23.9 on the American Lake Golf Course and Mussa ended up in 20th (19:30.1). Gig Harbor’s Alyssa Andrews won the race in a blazing time of 17:45.5.

Federal Way’s Jasmine Johnson also qualified for her second-straight appearance at the Class 4A state meet with a 16th-place finish in 19:25.6.

On the boys’ side, there will be only one Federal Way school district runner making his way across the mountains to run at the Class 4A state championship meet in the Tri-Cities.

Jefferson sophomore Chase Braxmeyer ended up in 10th-place overall at the American Lake Golf Course. Braxmeyer completed the run in 16:19.3.

Braxmeyer’s finish helped the Raiders finish in eighth place as a team, which was two places away from qualifying for state. TJ’s Ben Hogan finished in 40th overall (17:04.0) and Jeff Baklund ended up in 50th (17:16.8).

Beamer also had a strong showing at the district meet, finishing 10th overall. The Titans were led by the 36th-place finish of senior Adam Lee (17:02.4) and junior Keegan Claxton was 41st (17:04.4).

The 2008 Class 4A State Cross Country Meet will be held at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco on Nov. 8.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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