Hawk girls cross country team ready to take run at state title Saturday

The MTHS girls cross country team that will compete at the 2015 WIAA State Cross Country Championships on Saturday: (from left to right) Katherine Gustafson, Kari Tran, Meagan Williams, Ella Schroth, Sophia Nelson, Jessica Ong and Katherine Walter. (Photo by Doug Petrowski)
The MTHS girls cross country team that will compete at the 2015 WIAA State Cross Country Championships on Saturday: (from left to right) Katherine Gustafson, Kari Tran, Marika Jamtaas, Ella Schroth, Sophia Nelson, Jessica Ong and Katherine Walter.

With three straight state finals’ appearances, the most successful Mountlake Terrace Hawks sports team of this decade – the girls cross country team – isn’t content with their record as it now stands.

The squad heads to Eastern Washington this weekend in pursuit of the ultimate goal: a state championship.

The Hawks will be competing in the WIAA 2015 State Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Sun Willow Golf Course in Pasco with their eye on capturing the 3A girls cross country state title.

After finishing second at last year’s state meet and fifth in 2013, the Hawks look to climb that ladder and grab the top rung this year. But winning a state title won’t be easy, as strong competition awaits Terrace from defending 3A state champion Holy Names, powerhouse Mt. Spokane, District 2 champion Ballard, District 3/4 champion Enumclaw and runner-up Central Kitsap.

And then there’s Wesco League rivals Glacier Peak and Edmonds-Woodway.

The Grizzlies and the Warriors may be Terrace’s biggest obstacles to winning the state championship this year as both squads are healthy and confident. Glacier Peak, making its eighth straight appearance at state, won the District 1 championship on Oct. 31; E-W finished second at districts, one point ahead of the Hawks.

The Warriors also feature the District 1 3A girls champion, sophomore Yukino Parle.

MTHS head coach Todd Weber knows the challenge his squad will face going up against the likes of Glacier Peak and Edmonds-Woodway again. But Weber looks to history as evidence that the Hawks can turn the tables on their Wesco rivals.

“Last year Glacier Peak won districts and we reversed those results the following week,” Weber explained. (The Grizzlies placed third at the state meet in 2014; Terrace finished in the second spot, 34 points ahead of Glacier Peak.) “That’s what we are shooting to do again.”

Terrace will be fielding a state squad with plenty of experience and balance this year. Their two seniors — Katherine Walter and Ella Schroth — and three juniors — Katherine Gustafson, Jessica Ong and Sophia Nelson — all have run at the state meet twice before. Rounding out the Hawk state team will be sophomores Marika Jamtaas and Joan Park, with alternates Meagan Williams and Kari Tran.

Even if the team hadn’t qualified as a whole for the state meet, Walter, Schroth, Gustafson and Ong would have earned a spot at state solely on their individual top 15 finishes at the district meet. Glacier Peak had three runners in the district top 15; Edmonds-Woodway just two.

In high school cross country, the combined finishes of a squad’s top five runners make up their team score.

Weber likes his squad’s chances at state, but also shows plenty of respect for the girls from Glacier Peak and Edmonds-Woodway. “Of those three teams, there’s just a bunch of girls that are just tough,” he said. “And that’s what makes these three teams so good.”

In preparing for the state meet, Weber changed his approach to practices this week, pushing the girls’ squad to build up team speed. “We’ve pretty much kept the speed down to a minimum throughout the year and we go with a lot of long, consistent stuff – the dreaded mile intervals,” Weber stated. “But when it comes down to the money races, we’re going to inject them with some serious speed.”

“And their legs are going to fly,” he added.

The 3A girls race at the state championships in Pasco begins at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and are part of a full day of high school cross country races. Opening ceremonies at the event are slated for 9:15 a.m. Tickets will be available at the gate (cash only); $10 for adults, $7 for students, $7 for seniors 62 and older.

— Story and photo by Doug Petrowski



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