The Peninsula High School girls cross country won the South Puget Sound League 3A sub-district meet and the Seahwks finished fourth on Saturday at Fort Steilacoom.
Both teams will advance to this weekend’s Westside Classic district meet at American Lake Golf Course.
All seven Peninsula girls finished in the top 15 at the sub-district race. The Seahawks placed third at the state meet, and they have their sights set on a championship this year.
“I think we’re really strong,” junior Sarah Manning said. “Last year, our fifth, sixth, seventh girls held us back, and we’re really closing the gap. That’s what’s really helping us.”
Head coach Joel Wingard said winning the state title is a realistic possibility, given the evenness of the teams in contention.
“There’s no dominant team this year,” he said. “Glacier Peak’s been very dominant for two years, but they graduated their top two runners. Kamiakan, Prairie, us — they’re all very similar. So it’ll be who really comes to run on the day. It’ll come down to that. So we could be anywhere from one to five. We should be at that, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be in the top five.”
Senior McKenzi Bravo, who came in second overall at the sub-district race, clocked in at 19 minutes 28.64 second, only four seconds behind Enumclaw’s Aleea Gwerder.
Bravo said the Seahawks are aiming for the top spot at state, which will be held Nov. 9 in Pasco.
“I do think it’s realistic,” she said. “I think we’ll easily be top four, so we’re shooting for No. 1. We’re fast enough — I’m still 40 seconds off my (personal record) — we’re just getting there on time because we’re getting faster every week.”
On the boys side, the fourth-place sub-district finish wasn’t as good as Peninsula hoped for, but it’s good enough to advance to the district meet. The top five schools from the sub-district race will compete this weekend at the district level.
The Seahawks will need a better showing Saturday in order to earn a spot in the state meet. If they get there, Wingard said he thinks a top 10 finish is achievable.
“I still think we should get to state, and once we get to state, I would hope we could be a top-10 team,” Wingard said. “The first thing is to get there. None of the boys on this team have ever run in a state meet.”
Improvement has been the mantra for the boys this season, and they hope the work they’ve put in will lead to state-meet berth.
“We’re a lot better than last year,” sophomore Dominic Lauer said. “We’ve done a lot better with our racing this year, and our strategy, and just kind of what we need to get done, and how we need to do it.”
Junior Osten Vogel also has noticed the improvement.
“The guys have made a big improvement,” Vogel said. “I’d say the guys’ team is getting a lot better.”
Regardless of the results, the runners are having fun.
“Our team is bigger than it’s ever been, so that’s awesome,” Bravo said. “Our boys have improved a lot. So that’s been great, seeing them improve a lot. We have a lot of new freshmen that are really good, and it’s been really fun.”