The hill climbers: Mount Si Cross Country team overcomes challenges in first league meet

The crucial moment for Ella Thompson came on the final hill climb. Her legs wanted to stop. But Ella’s willpower wouldn’t allow it.

“On the hill, especially, people want to stop really bad,” the Mount Si junior said. She was one of them.

“I just put my mind someplace else, tell my feet to keep going,” Thompson said. She’s tried mentally humming songs. But what really works is simply zoning out. Her mind is over her muscle.

The Mount Si distance squads met Bellevue and Lake Washington in their first league meet, Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek Park.

In team scores, the girls bested Lake Washington, 24 to 35, but fell to Bellevue, 40 to 21. The Mount Si boys fell to Bellevue and Lake Washington.

For the girls, Bailey Scott took third overall, followed by Abbey Bottemiller in fourth. Ella Thompson tied for 17th. Delaney Hollis tied for 19th, and Annie Shaw tied for 21st.

For boys, Mount Si’s Dom Canady, Tim Corrie and Preston Banks took sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Mount Si’s Sean Hecker was 20th, and Sam Isen was 23rd.

Overcoming the course

As the boys entered their final lap, girls junior varsity runners Katelyn Sundwall and Aubrey McMichael readied for their run up a dramatic hill during the latter half of the course.

“I’m looking forward to what I haven’t run already,” said McMichael, a junior.

Few Mount Si players had many positive things to say about the Kelsey Creek course. They prefer rolling scenery instead of the park’s forested, but repetitive, loops. That steep gravel trail up and down the hill had everyone considering their strategies.

“Keep your eyes up,” Canady said. “Stand on your toes when you’re going uphill.”

Canady only glanced a couple times at his watch, keeping his eyes on the runners around him and minding the mile markers.

“I went off of feel,” he said. “After a long time of running, you get a feel for it.”

“It’s a huge downhill,” Corrie said. “It’s always tough,” he says of the course, but compared to last year, this experience was better.

“I knew how to pace myself,” said Banks, a Mount Si senior and new arrival from Harrisburg, Ore.

A distance runner from birth, Banks loves to run. Cruising on his feet is a good opportunity to really think, he says.

Banks said he was “super psyched” by his finish.

As with the boys, the park hill dramatically punctuated the race for the girls.

“It was fun to challenge yourself going up the hill,” said Bottemiller. “Going downhill felt out of control.”

She kept her eye on competitors and teammates, timing her approach so that she was ready to climb.

Bottemiller also set mental expectations for the challenge.

“I know it’s going to hurt, but I push through it,” she said. “I meet the expectations in my head.

Scott said she was proud of her finish, considering it’s the team’s first real meet of the fall.

“It went pretty well,” she said.


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