RICHLAND - The Sunnyside High School cross country team's 2004 season came to a close this past Saturday at the Regional meet in Richland.
Needing a top 10 individual finish or a top two placing in the team standings to move on to the 3A State meet, Sunnyside failed to garner either at Regionals.
The best effort the Grizzlies could muster came from senior Brenden Scott. A State meet qualifier as a junior, Scott was unable to repeat the feat this season.
Sunnyside Coach Robin Bryson said Scott implemented the Regional race plan to perfection.
"The plan was for him to go out and stick with the top 10 runners," Bryson said.
Scott stayed with the front running pack as instructed, but unfortunately for the Grizzly, the pace was quicker than he had seen most of this season. That was because Spokane's North Central and East Valley high schools were competing in Saturday's Regional race. The two Spokane schools accounted for three of the top five individual finishes.
Scott was still in the hunt for a top 10 individual finish with 600 meters remaining in Saturday's boys race.
"He was in sixth place at that point," said Bryson.
"But with about 400 meters left, Brenden just ran out of gas," she said.
With his fuel tank on empty, Bryson and others at the Regional race watching him could only agonize as runner after runner sped past Scott toward the finish line. When the Sunnyside senior finally hit the finish line, he found himself with a clocking of 16:59 and a 20th place individual finish.
Failing to earn a top 10 finish and a berth to State definitely wasn't for a lack of effort, said Bryson. She said Scott stuck to the game plan as instructed, but the quality field simply wore him out.
In fact, most of the Mid-Valley League's top runners were unable to stay with the Spokane entries. The only Mid-Valley runners who earned State meet berths with a top 10 individual finish were Ellensburg's Joe Darda and Selah's Gary Lorrance, third and fifth, respectively.
The boys race winner was junior Nick Atwood of Spokane's East Valley High School. He clocked a 15:47. Senior Luke Graesser of North Central High School was second with a clocking of 15:49. North Central won the boys Regional team title, with East Valley taking second place team honors.
Sunnyside, the 11th place finishing boys team out of 12 schools, had a total of six Grizzlies in the race. In addition to Scott, Sunnyside senior Cipriano Meraz placed 48th (17:50), sophomore Sterling Scott placed 51st (18:04), senior Gregg Burbidge placed 78th (21:10), sophomore Dane Schmick placed 80th (22:08) and freshman Mathew Santoy placed 82nd (22:21).
In Saturday's Regional girls race, Michele Schubert of West Valley High School claimed top honors. She placed first in a time of 18:37. The Lady Rams won the team title, with North Central taking runner-up honors.
Sunnyside's girls placed 10th in the team standings. The Lady Grizzlies' top finisher was sophomore Ariel Garza, 26th with a clocking of 21:39. Also competing for the Lady Grizzlies were sophomore Christina Fuller, 58th in 23:46; sophomore Erica Rodriguez, 59th in 23:55; senior Mercedes Martinez, 60th in 24:09; junior Andrea Benitez, 72nd in 28:03; and freshman Angie Fernandez, 74th in 31:52.