On a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in late October, Columbia High’s boys cross country team won the program’s first Trico League championship since 1996.
The Bruins didn’t take top individual honors on Oct. 22 in their final home meet of the season, but they placed two runners in the top five, and all five scorers in the top 17 to finish with 49 points. La Center was the runner-up with 58, Seton Catholic was third with 72, and Kalama was fourth with 78.
Sophomores Colin Howe and Will Nuckoles finished second and third, respectively, with admirable times, considering the conditions: a course made wet, slick, and loose by rain. Howe completed the 5,000-meter Husum Hills course in 18 minutes, 16 seconds. Nuckoles ran it in 18:30.
Sophomore Fletcher And-rews (11th, 19:45), freshman Declan Liddiard (16th, 20:00), and junior Miguel Lemmon (17th, 20:06) rounded out the CHS scoring unit.
“The boys wanted to win, they knew what they had to do, and they went out and did it,” Bruins Coach Jill Cole said, noting the teams’ motto for the end of the season is that of late teammate Matthew Petty: “If it’s possible, that’s all that matters.”
“We knew it was possible to be league champions, and those boys ran hard every step of that 5K course to make their goal possible,” Cole said.
Kalama sophomore Jarod Hulsizer won the race in 17:54; a pretty good time for this course, considering the less-than-prime conditions.
“Our course at Husum Hills is never a very fast course due to its high degree of difficulty,” Cole said, “and adding in a lot of rain makes the course a bit slower than normal. However, both winners of the varsity races are some of the top runners in our district.”
Now the boys team has its sights set on becoming the program’s first district champion since 1996. The South-west District meet is set for Saturday morning on the Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland.
Columbia High’s girls team will enter the district meet off a second-place finish last Wednesday at Husum Hills. The Bruins scored 45 points, thanks to three top six finishes. La Center runners, however, captured first and second to lead the Wildcats to the league title with 35 points. Kalama was third with 57 and Seton Catholic was fourth with 80. Castle Rock and King’s Way ran incomplete.
Freshman Rachel Luther posted the best time for CHS, finishing third in 22:16. She was followed in the scoring column by junior Sidra Matthias (22:43) and freshman Haley Blair (22:-57).
Juniors Kyzlen Stein (27:-41) and Melissa Fortanel (28:03) came in 17th and 18th, respectively, to complete the Bruins’ scoring.
Cole said the team was wary of Kalama as a potential challenger for second place.
“We knew Kalama was going to give us a run, and our girls competed hard and rightfully claimed the runner-up spot,” Cole said. “Their intensity shined through the rain, and we ran a solid race.”
At district, both CHS teams will be competing for top individual honors and one of four team berths to the state meet on Nov. 8 in Pasco. The girls race starts at 9:30 a.m.; the boys start at 10:50.