RICHLAND - Kamiakin had the horses at yesterday's Columbia Basin Big Nine 3A District cross-country meet, coming away with both the boys and girls team titles.
Sunnyside's harriers held their own, though, as the entire SHS boys squad, as well as Lady Grizzly Jocelyn Yanez performed well enough to move on to the 3A Regional meet. That competition, which serves as the qualifying race for the State meet, will be held Saturday, Oct. 30, in Wenatchee. The top 15 runners in both the boys and girls races at Regionals will advance to the State meet.
Yesterday's District meet on the Leslie Grove Park 5,000-meter course in Richland featured all eight of the CBBN's 3A teams. At stake were the precious Regional meet berths, as the top four finishing teams, as well as the top 14 individual runners in both the boys and girls races got to move on.
Sunnyside's boys secured the fourth and final team berth to Regionals by edging out Kennewick, Eastmont and West Valley. Only 10 points separated the four schools in the team scoring.
The first through third place finishing teams in the boys competition were Kamiakin with a meet-low 29 points, Hanford with 83 points and Southridge with 98 points. Sunnyside's boys tallied 119 points to snatch up the fourth and final team berth to Regionals. Kennewick, Eastmont and West Valley had team scores of 121, 123 and 129, respectively. Pasco brought up the rear with 239 points.
Leading the Grizzly boys to their fourth place team finish Thursday afternoon were juniors Juan Reynoso and Nathan Gonzalez.
Reynoso turned in the third fastest time from the 54-runner field. He sped to a clocking of 16:45 on the 5,000-meter course, a relatively flat, grassy track.
The two runners who bested him were Kamiakin teammates Anthony Armstrong and Austin Richards. Armstrong proved to be heads-and-shoulders above the field with his 15:46 clocking. Richards, 34 seconds back of Armstrong, claimed the runner-up finish in a time of 16:20.
Gonzalez was Sunnyside's second runner across the finish line yesterday. He missed out on a Top 10 finish by just six seconds, recording a time of 17:05 for 12th place honors.
The Grizzly boys team also received a heady performance from junior Omar Cantu. One of only 28 runners to finish in under 18 minutes, Cantu placed 21st with his clocking of 17:40.
Completing the SHS boys team scoring were seniors Jaime Garcia and Ruben Prado. They placed 40th and 43rd overall with clockings of 18:49 and 19:11, respectively.
Also competing for the Sunnyside boys squad, although their placings were not figured into the team scoring, were junior Anthony Garcia and senior Freddie Roman. Garcia came in 45th (19:18) and Roman was 47th (19:19).
In placing fourth at yesterday's District meet, the SHS boys team carried out their pre-race instructions almost perfectly.
"We knew we were going to have to execute our plan to the letter," Sunnyside Coach George Paulus said of his Grizzlies' chances of earning a team berth to Regionals.
"The bottom line," said Paulus, "is that we had to run our best times of the year to move on as a team to Regionals."
To help the SHS boys accomplish that task, Paulus had coaches positioned at the one and two-mile markers to bark out pacing times as the Grizzly harriers ran past. Several of the team members, it turned out, got out of the gate too quickly and clocked too fast of a first-mile time. They re-established their paces, though, by the time they hit the two-mile marker.
"It turned out the kids did what they had to do," said Paulus, elated that his Grizzlies earned a team berth to Regionals, a first for Sunnyside in many, many years.
In Thursday's girls race, Yanez was the only Lady Grizzly from the five who competed that performed well enough to move on to Regionals. The SHS senior clocked a time of 20:58, good for 10th place honors from the 51-runner field.
Hanford's Erin Hegarty was in a class by herself in yesterday's girls race. She sped to a clocking of 18:25 for top honors, finishing more than a minute and a half ahead of the runner-up, Kamiakin's Michelle Fletcher (19:58).
Kamiakin, however, won the girls team title with 23 points, followed by Hanford with 67 points, Southridge with 71 and West Valley with 96 points. The fifth through eighth place finishing teams in the girls race were Eastmont (100), Pasco (185), Kennewick (201) and Sunnyside (205).
Sunnyside's other competitors in the girls race included junior Anna Macias, 45th place in 25:14; senior Maria Olivera, 49th place in 27:33; Maggie Bacenas, 50th place; and senior Yunuenn Garcia, 51st place in 33:10.
1 Bob Story 10/22/2010 2:01 PM