PASCO – The Peninsula girls didn’t get the top five finish they were hoping for, but they still placed in the top 10, capping off a successful season. The Seahawks were led by junior Sarah Manning and sophomore Emma Jones, who finished within one second of each other. Manning finished in 29th place with a time of 19:29.14 and Jones finished with a time of 19:30.11, taking the 30th spot. Senior McKenzi Bravo, who finished in 34th place with a time of 19:35.83, said the race started out fast and the Seahawks may have been caught off guard a bit.
“It was fast today,” Bravo said. “It went out faster than I thought it was going to. I think we were really nervous.”
The Seahawks fell behind and struggled to gain ground in the second half of the race.
“I think that we should’ve been up further,” Bravo said. “We were pretty close but we should’ve been up further, definitely.”
Head coach Joel Wingard said the girls raced well, despite the slow start, and ran well together.
“I thought we raced well,” Wingard said. “It’s hard to say. Because we had four people really close together, that helps us, I don’t know how many people were between four and five. We knew there were six or seven teams that could do really well here, so we just have to wait and see.”
The boys earned their first state meet trip in three years, claiming the last spot in the West Side Classic the week before. They ran hard at the state meet, finishing in 16th place overall. Sophomore Dominic Lauer led the Seahawks, coming in 80th place with a time of 17:01.56. Lauer said he started out a little too fast.
“I think I wore myself out a little bit before I was ready to—I didn’t finish as strong as I wanted to,” he said. “I think we did pretty well. Gage Gafford ran third for our team today, which is crazy good. I’m really proud of him for that. Our team did pretty well.”
Senior Nolan Winter finished 108th overall, clocking in at 17:41.15. He actually led the entire field for the first half mile, before falling behind in the later stages of the race.
“I just decided, why not try to go with the leaders?” Winter said. “I led the whole first half mile, which was an experience in itself. I’m happy with the way I finished. I finished in the state cross country meet, so I’m overjoyed with how the race went.”
Regardless of the results, both teams had fun spending time with each other, especially since the boys hadn’t qualified since Winter’s freshman season.
“For the last three years, I’ve been coming to watch our girls team. Finally being able to race was such a great experience, and just hanging out with the guys last night and this morning, I’ve had so much and I’m going to miss cross country next year.”
Wingard said he was proud of how hard the boys worked, and thought the state experience will prove valuable for the young team.
“I think they probably got their eyes opened. Now I think they know, they’ll understand what they need to do to make a mark here. We’ve got that state experience and now we just have to build on that and keep the program going in the right direction.”Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.