Sports

TJ boys qualify for 4A state cross country meet for first time in school's history

Thomas Jefferson senior Jeff Baklund finished in eighth place at the Westside Classic district meet Saturday at the American Lake Golf Course. Baklund helped the Raider boys qualify for the Class 4A State Cross Country Meet for the first time in school history.  - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Thomas Jefferson senior Jeff Baklund finished in eighth place at the Westside Classic district meet Saturday at the American Lake Golf Course. Baklund helped the Raider boys qualify for the Class 4A State Cross Country Meet for the first time in school history.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

For the first time in the 41-year history of the school, the Thomas Jefferson boys cross country team has qualified for the Class 4A State Championships.

The Raiders finished fifth as a team at Saturday’s Westside Classic district meet at the American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood. The top six teams qualified for the state meet, which will be Saturday at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

The Raider boys cross country program has lived in the large shadow of the TJ girls for the past several years. The Jefferson girls have qualified for the past eight state championships before having that streak snapped Saturday with a seventh-place finish at districts.

So it was the TJ boys who took center stage Saturday at the humongous Westside Classic district meet, which included runners from the entire South Puget Sound League and the Narrows League.

The Raiders were led by the running of Jeff Baklund. The senior finished in eighth place overall in a time of 16:05.9 over the 3.1-mile course. Central Kitsap’s Shane Moskowitz won the race in 15:30.8.

Gig Harbor won the team title with 75 total points, followed by Auburn Riverside (86), Bellarmine Prep (144), Olympia (157), Jefferson (159) and Kent-Meridian (163). All six will take their full team rosters to the Class 4A State Boys Cross Country Championships.

Jefferson also got strong performances from junior Chase Braxmeyer, sophomore Oscar Iraheta and senior Ben Hogan. Braxmeyer finished in 27th place in a time of 16:49.1, Iraheta was 30th (16:53.5) and Hogan was 37th (17:07.8). Rounding out the Raider team were Lionel Estrada (58th overall), Jacob Thoreson (64th) and Reid Mayfield (95th).

Federal Way High School’s Meron Simon will be joining the rest of the TJ boys team in Pasco. The junior finished 22nd overall in a time of 16:41.1.

But this year, the Raider boys will be the only TJ team running at the state meet. The Jefferson girls finished in seventh place during Saturday’s West Central Districts, one spot out of the automatic state-qualifying position. It will be the first time since 2000 that a state meet will be held without the TJ girls.

But the Raiders will have individual representation in Pasco. Senior Monica Jaenicke finished in ninth place overall in a personal-best time of 19:11.6.

Joining Jaenicke at state will be Federal Way’s Jasmine Johnson, Beamer’s Taylor Kartes and Sara Mussa and Decatur’s Nichole Williams. Johnson finished 17th overall at the district race in a time of 19:30.1, Kartes was 18th (19:35.2), Mussa finished 24th (19:43.1) and Williams was 25th overall (19:44.1).

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