Columbia High boys cross country running like it’s 1996

For the first time since 1996, Columbia High’s boys cross country team won the Southwest District Class 1A Championship. Team members pictured are (front, l-r) Daniel Lemmon, Miguel Lemmon, Fletcher Andrews; (back) Bruins Coach Jill Cole, Issac Black, Colin Howe, John Foley, Cabot Roe, Declan Liddiard, Will Nuckoles, and Asst. Coach Michael Hannigan. This Saturday, the Bruins will be competing for a state championship in Pasco.

Now that’s an encore.

Following on the heels of its first Trico League championship since 1996, Columbia High’s boys cross country team hoisted its first South-west District first-place trophy since 1996, following the 1A meet last Saturday on the Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland.

Columbia’s top five runners outscored Eatonville’s, 81 to 85, to win the title and a team berth in this Saturday’s WIAA 1A meet in Pasco. It’s the CHS boys’ third-straight trip to state.

In the girls final, the CHS girls fell four points short of returning to state as a team entry for the third year in a row. The top four teams in each race secured entries to state. The Bruins, however, earned three of 20 individual berths to state as consolation.

Senior Cabot Roe set the pace for the CHS boys, re-turning from a calf injury that caused him to miss the Oct. 22 league meet. Roe was in fine form on Nov. 1 as he circuited the flat, fast 5,000-meter course on the Lewis River links in 17 minutes, 22 seconds, which was good for fourth place.

Roe got lots of help from the Bruins’ underclassmen in the scoring effort (lower finishes among the first five equal better point totals).

Sophomores Will Nuck-oles and Colin Howe also broke into the top 10, with Nuckoles (17:34) taking seventh and Howe (17:40) coming in 10th.

The real fight for points came in the middle of the 72-runner field. There, junior Miguel Lemmon (18:38) eked out a 28th-place finish, and freshman Declan Liddiard (18:50) outran older competitors to finish 32nd.

Sophomore Fletcher Andrews (18:59) and senior John Foley (20:08) also qualified for state after placing 34th and 54th, respectively.

“The boys ran extremely tough and they wanted it more than anyone on that course,” Bruins Coach Jill Cole said. “They gave it everything they had. I think we surprised some teams.”

Cole said the Bruins don’t run on many flat and fast course, especially later in the season, “so I think a lot of the northern teams did not count us.”

The Bruins couldn’t have cared less. “We knew our ability and I knew the fitness level of these athletes, and it could not have gone better on Saturday,” Cole said.

Columbia’s girls team fell short of its goal of getting back to state but will be represented individually at state by junior Sidra Matthias (she was a member of the 2013 state team) and freshmen Rachel Luther and Haley Blair.

Luther (21:09) and Blair (21:11) ran practically arm-in-arm in their first district final and finished 13th and 14th, respectively. Matthias (21:53) came in 19th.

Juniors Kyzlen Stein (44th, 25:04) and Melissa Fortanel (46th, 25:20) completed the CHS scoring unit, which finished fifth with 119 points; Forks captured the fourth team berth with 116. A total of 68 runners took part in the 5,000-meter race.

Juniors Desiray Almaraz (58th, 28:07) and Abby Den-nis (62nd, 28:48) provided depth, if needed.

“The girls had their best race of the season,” Cole said. “Rachel, Haley, and Sidra knew they could be in the top 20 to qualify individually, and they raced hard. The team missed the fourth qualifying spot, but there were no regrets that day. Everyone ran their hardest and left it all out on the course.”

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