YAKIMA – Sunnyside High School’s cross-country squads didn’t exactly get off to a flying start in Big Nine League action Thursday afternoon.
The Grizzly boys, the only 3A runners in the perennially tough class 4A conference, settled for last place honors in the six-school field. No Sunnyside girls competed in the varsity race.
Yesterday’s three-mile races at Yakima’s Franklin Park came in the first of only two league competitions that will be staged this fall.
The top finisher for the Sunnyside boys on Thursday was freshman Griffey Sarmiento. From a field of 41 varsity runners he earned a 25th place finish. Sarmiento got around the rolling, sloped three-mile course in a time of 18:59.2.
The winning time was posted by Wenatchee junior Cole Christman, who sprinted to a clocking of 16:05.2. He hit the finish line approximately 15 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Eisenhower junior Ben Mahony.
Team-wise, Ike’s boys walked away with first-place honors, tallying a meet-low 27 points. Wenatchee was second with 43 points. Eastmont, Davis, Moses Lake and Sunnyside rounded out the team scoring with 78, 105, 135 and 158 points, respectively.
Second across the finish line for the Sunnyside’s boys squad was another freshman, Joe Rodriguez III. He clocked a time of 19:25.
SHS Coach George Paulus said he is still missing a couple of key, experienced runners from the roster, but early on this season is pleased and pleasantly surprised that a couple of underclassmen are leading the way for the Grizzlies.
“I couldn’t be happier with the two ninth graders who have finished first and second for us in our first two meets of the season,” he said.
“They’re showing they can run competitively, and right now that’s a good thing.
“They, along with the rest of our team – which honestly is very inexperienced – will be a work in progress.
“Right now we’re paying attention to conditioning and how they perform at the different stages of a race…knowing when it’s time to settle in and when it’s time to surge,” Paulus said.
Besides the two freshmen, Sunnyside had five other harriers competing in yesterday’s boys varsity race. They included senior Robert Rodriguez (19:36), senior Ignacio Portillo (19:53), junior Jesse Torres (20:52), sophomore Julian Naranjo (20:53) and junior Julio Gaspar (20:54).
Paulus elected not to enter the six girls he had at his disposal in the varsity competition.
“We’re young and very inexperienced,” he said. “Only Jeniya (Guillen) and Kayla (Gonzalez) have racing experience, so we decided to keep all six of our girls together in the JV race.
“Considering our lack of experience, it was actually a surprise we placed second behind Eisenhower in the JV girls scoring,” he added.
Ike freshman Caroline McCarthy had the fastest time in the girls JV race, a clocking of 21:22.4.
The sophomore Guillen and the senior Gonzalez placed 9th and 10th, respectively, with times of 23:33.6 and 23:34.9.
Also running for Sunnyside in the girls JV race were freshman Samantha Herrera (26:04), sophomore Angela Montes (27:25), senior Briseida Soberanes (27:52) and sophomore Sierra Gonzalez (27:52).
The three-mile girls varsity race winner proved to be Ike senior Elise Tello (18:49.6).
Sunnyside’s harriers are scheduled to compete at Highland High School this coming Saturday.