Last season was a dream year for the Mountlake Terrace cross country teams, with the girls squad finishing fifth at the 3A State Cross Country Championships, while the boys team brought home 10th place from the state meet.
The question for the 2014 season may not be if the teams can continue that success, but – at least for the girls team – could they be even better and possibly challenge for the top spot in the state.
“Winning a state title is a very difficult thing to do,” said Hawks cross country head coach Todd Weber. “If the stars are aligned come race day and we are healthy, you never know.”
While Weber, who is entering his 17th year being involved in the Mountlake Terrace cross country and his eighth year as head coach, downplays the talent he has, you can be sure the rest of Wesco and top schools around the state are seeing the Hawks as a serious threat for most specifically the girls state championship.
All the top Hawk runners on the girls team are returning this year. Sophomores Katherine Gustafson (6th place) and Sophia Nelson (9th place) each finished in the top 10 in the state meet individual competition last November; Juniors Ella Schroth and Katherine Walter also had strong outings at the state meet (22nd and 31st respectively).
“I think Katherine and Sophia are very capable of improving on their sixth- and ninth place finishes,” Weber said. “I believe both Ella and Katherine can place higher as well.”
New additions to the girls team this year include freshman Marika Jamtaas and sophomore Jessica Ong, who placed 10th at the 3A State Track and Field Championships last May. The two “are hanging in there with our top runners,” noted Weber and can only strengthen an already-loaded squad.
For the Terrace boys team, graduation hit hard and the squad will be hard pressed to repeat last year’s success. “Their goal is a top five finish at Wesco (League Championships) and NW Districts,” Weber said. “They are capable of this if they follow the prescribed plan.”
Weber has been impressed with the early practice efforts of the boys squad. “As a group (they) have started to develop the work ethic and team cohesiveness needed to compete at the highest level,” he said. “If they continue this way, they will surprise some teams.
Seniors Conrad Bratz and Taron Castleton will lead the boys as co-captains; sophomores Nick Leidig and Braeden Sims will also be Hawk runners to watch this season.
Terrace begins their quest for cross country glory this week with two non-conference invitational meets. On Wednesday, Sept. 17, the Hawks join Shorewood, Jackson and Mariner for the Mariner Invite at McCollum Country Park in south Everett. Then on Saturday, Sept. 20, the team heads to South Whidbey High School for the South Whidbey Invitational.
Terrace will host a four-team Wesco League meet that will include the squads from Glacier Peak, Lake Stevens and Cascade on Thursday, Oct. 9. To view the Hawks’ entire 2014 schedule, click https://www.wescoathletics.com/index.php?league=3&page_name=game_schedule&school=40&sport=2.
– By Doug Petrowski