Fall City athlete quietly gathering distance wins

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FALL CITY - With all of the great student athletes competing at Mount Si High School in various sports, sometimes one can forget that not all Valley athletes compete for Mount Si. Some compete for private school teams, and in the case of this Fall City resident, have equal success on the field and in the classroom.

Jane Larson, a junior at Cedar Park Christian, a 1A school in Bothell, has had a stellar track season. She finished first in both the 1,600- meter and 3,200-meter events at the state 1A girls track meet in Cheney on June 4, and also was part of the winning 4x400-meter relay team at state, as well. In her two individual events, her victories were no contest. In the 1,600, she had a time of 5:04.89 and won by a little more than 12 seconds over a freshman from Okanogan; and in the 3,200, she clocked a time of 11:28.44 and won by more than 30 seconds over a senior from Zillah. Last Saturday, she finished second in an event at a regional meet in Oregon and got a personal-best time of 5:03.94.

Larson also placed first in the Pasco and Lake Washington Invitational meets in the 1,600- and 3,000-meter events, respectively. She won the league title in the 800-, 1,600-, and 3,200-meter events, and was the district champion in the 1,600 and 3,200. In the Pasco 1,600 race, Larson narrowly beat out a runner from Mount Si's Kingco 3A rival Bellevue for the title, and in the 3,200, she finished a strong fourth place.

Running track for a smaller school has its differences, but this year it's not been much different than if she were running for Mount Si.

"Well, we had our biggest track team ever this year with about 50 people. That is probably about the same size of a team as a 2A or 3A school. Competition in a 1A school is higher in some events and lower in some events than in bigger schools. 1A girls distance right now is not as competitive as 3A or 4A. That's one reason I like to do some invitational meets sometimes to run against some of these other girls that aren't in our division," Larson said in an e-mail.

She is also a star cross-country runner, having finished first at league, district and state meets last fall. In one race, she ran a time of 19:01 that earned her a ranking of No. 18 in the overall 2004 girls state rankings by times, and in the state meet she ran a time of 19:14 to grab the crown. She also finished second out of all Washington runners at a Nike-sponsored race in Beaverton, Ore., last fall, as well.

Not only does she have success on the field, she has it off the field. Larson maintains a strong 3.87 grade point average at her school. Keeping that balance is tough.

"I maintain the balance by focusing every little bit of my time and energy on what I need to get done. I also don't sleep very much," she said.

She enjoys cross country more than track, and there are big differences between the two sports, she said.

"There is a huge difference. Track is just running around in circles on a red oval every day [numerous times if you are a distance runner] and cross country is running in the woods and parks and on trails, The distance of the race [3.1 miles] is longer and requires more effort, but I like it much better than a track," she said.

Larson started running on her own, said her dad, William Larson. "I think Jane really started organized running in seventh- or eighth grade. This was something that she just sort of became interested in and we just facilitated that interest," he said, also by e-mail.

William added that his daughter is very motivated to succeed.

"Jane is totally self motivated. We [her parents] have been privileged to simply stand back and watch her go," he said.

Despite all of this success, which also includes the 2004 Fall City Days run championship, Larson isn't thinking big; in the form of big marathons like Bloomsday in Spokane or the Seattle Marathon.

"I have not really thought about running anything bigger right now. At some point I would like to run a marathon and this summer I will probably run in a few 10 and 5Ks, and definitely hope to defend at Fall City Days," she said.

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