CHENEY - Last year Danielle Raschko missed going to State by one place and one second. This year Bickleton's lone Lady Pirate runner earned a berth at the State cross country meet in Pasco next week.
Raschko knew she had to make it into the top 10 to qualify for State and she saved her best performance of the season for the Regional Championship meet at Fairways Golf Course in Cheney this past Friday.
Coming around the first 800 meters, she settled into sixth place and, pretty much alone, ran there the rest of the race.
"I saw a slight smile on her face coming down the back stretch and she knew she was going to qualify for the State meet," said Lang. "After the race, I asked her if she had thought during the run about finishing so close last year, and she said she had. Sometimes a setback can lead you on to more success and, in Danielle's case, I think that this is true.
"On Friday, after watching the boys run in a very cold wind and seeing teammate Junior Hernandez fail to make it back to State might have put a lot of pressure on her to carry the banner for the Pirates, but she did not crack," said Coach Darrell Lang.
"She was focused in warm-up and determined to be in the top 10 finishers, where she was running against schools from around the Spokane area that she had not run against all year," said Lang. "We knew their times and that Danielle was close enough to crack the top 10."
The Regional meet was a disappointment for Hernandez, who made it to State last year as an eighth grader.
Hernandez, who was sick this season, had been struggling to gain his strength back and just never quite made it. His best time was early in the season before illness struck, but he lost valuable mid-season training.
He couldn't kick his way out in Friday's race and finished 23rd with a time of 18:40 in a field of 70 runners, led by Brian Angove of Saint George, who finished in 16:34 to place first.
"The competition for the boys actually improved overall from last year, as the three top boys teams took the top 13 places, leaving only two open berths to State," Lang noted.
"Junior still had a strong season this year, gaining some good PRs. Using this year as a motivator, like Danielle, should really help Junior excel in the next three years. Remember, he is only a ninth grader!" said Coach Lang.
"After missing out on a State berth last year, Raschko made a commitment to improve over that near miss. She attended camp at White Pass this past summer, which gave her some insight as to what she needed to do to become a better runner mentally and physically. Being the only girl on the team probably works in her favor most of the time because she competes with the boys well in practices," said Lang.
The race Friday was the last for Bickleton's Orion Yoesle, a senior who has competed in cross country for three years. He ran Friday's race in 21:46 to place 57th. Patrick Maeder (43rd), James Rasmussen (65th) and Jared Spalding (74th) also competed for Bickleton at Regionals.