Wildcat cross country battles top competition, tough course

Last week, Mount Si boys' and girls' cross country teams treated some of the best runners in Kingco to a beautiful fall day on a brand new course.

"It's the most picturesque course in the state — I don't think anybody that would run out here would disagree with that," said Mount Si cross country coach Art Galloway.

The Wildcats fared well against their competition from 4A Eastlake and Newport, and 3A rival Sammamish in races held Wednesday, Sept. 30, on a course that ranged over Valley scenery at Centennial Fields, Three Forks Park and Snoqualmie Elementary.

The top Wildcat finisher was girls' senior leader Alex Rudd, who overcame a toe injury to finish sixth in the event with a time of 20:58, best overall among the Mount Si girls.

"I was hoping to do better, but you take what you can get," Rudd said. The Wolves swept the top four spots in the race.

Rudd and the other ladies' competitors found that their course was mismarked, particularly around the one-mile mark at Three Forks. Rudd said that it became a discussion point for all of the runners.

"I know when we all got to the mile mark and compared our times, everybody, Mount Si, Eastlake, no matter what team we were on, all looked at each other," she said. "It was kind of a funny moment," she said.

The goof was a headscratcher for teammate Megan Past.

"When I heard my mile time, it was so slow and I was so surprised, ‘cause I felt like I was going faster," Past said. She ran a time of 22:08, good for 17th overall. Kendall Maddux had another strong showing with a time of 21:19, which earned the sophomore eighth overall.

The mistake was fixed in time for the boys' race, and it was a solid showing for their two top competitors, senior Zac Pearlstein and junior Michael Blackmon.

But it was a freshman who made the most noise. Even though Joe Williams finished 14th overall in a time of 18:19, behind his two teammates, it was Williams' best finish of the season.

"I tried to pace myself more," he said. "(I) still tried to keep up with the other two, but it was hard."

Pearlstein finished eighth overall with a time of 17:58; Blackmon was one second behind in ninth and both sped down the final stretch to the finish line. The junior was keeping things simple.

" I just stayed with Zac the whole time," Blackmon said. "Today was a lot easier for me than it has been, since I’ve been sick."

Galloway told the Valley Record that his top junior has been battling bronchitis the past couple of weeks, but is now better. Newport finished 1-2 in the boys event.

"It was really good for our kids to run against a 4A, probably state championship, team and pull our girls along," Galloway said. "That was really neat to see.

"I felt really good about Michael and Zac and their effort today," he added.

Galloway also praised the new crop of freshmen, led by the excellent efforts of Williams.

"I'm getting excited about having these younger kids out. My hat’s off to the middle school coaches for really feeding our program,” Galloway said.

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