The stars are aligning for the Mount Si High School girls cross country team, who capped off their season with a seventh place finish at the Washington state championships on Nov. 5.
While seventh is a spot lower than they finished last year, this season’s state team featured only one upperclassman and fell just a single point shy of replicating that sixth place finish.
The young team has already put a dent in the record books, running four of the 10 fastest times in school history over the last two seasons, according to Athletic.net.
Hailey Cossey, a sophomore, has been the Wildcats’ top finisher at state for the last two seasons. This year, she finished the 5,000 meter race hosted at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco in tenth place with a time of 19 minutes and 3 seconds. Cossey credits the team’s success to the group being tight knit.
“Our team is really close and we’re all excited to train,” she said. “Having such good friendships, everyone wants to do their best for the team and not just as individuals.”
Among the team’s rotating championship roster this season — featuring Cossey, Addison Craig, Alexa Coughran, Aleeya Cossey, Emily Rodriguez, Ellie Kampschror, Brooke McBride and Megan King — only King will graduate this year.
“The underclassmen, especially for the girls team, are super strong and I’m excited to see them next year,” said Craig, a junior and team captain who ran the second fastest time in school history in 2021.
Craig said underclassmen have stepped up in several key moments this season, replacing the absences of four seniors who graduated last year. Perhaps nowhere was that more apparent that the team’s district meet.
After beginning their post season with a third-place finish at the league championships, where just four points separated them and first place Issaquah, the Wildcats were determined to run well at the districts the following week.
“We realized how close everything was and that a small change could rocket us into a higher place,” Cossey said. “The energy of everyone was super high.”
Running a tough and hilly course at Lakewood High School, the Wildcats captured an 8 point victory over second-place Issaquah, becoming district champions and qualifying for state.
While the team entered state beaming with confidence, a bout of sickness infected half the team, impacting their performance, Craig said, but they performed well given the circumstances.
“We have a great group of kids,” she said. “Everyone works hard and everyone gets along. We just click.”
For the boys’ cross country team, it’s been a rebuilding year.
The team finished fifth at the KingCo League Championships, qualifying for the district meet, but was unable to qualify for state as a team.
Sophomore Andrew Krejci qualified as an individual, finishing in 30th place in a time of 16 minutes and 49 seconds.
Team co-captain and Dallen Jensen, a sophomore, said they were a little worried coming into this season after graduating John Pratapas, their top runner from last season.
“We didn’t know how it was going to work out, but we had some freshmen step up and we improved a lot,” he said.
Unsure if they would qualify for districts, Jensen said the team was excited about their performance at league championships, where they not only qualified, but finished just four points behind fourth-place Skyline.
“[Skyline has] been one of the best teams in the state for the past couple years,” said co-captain and junior Gabe Schmitt.
Like the girls team, the boys also have a young roster that will return all of its varsity members next season, the majority of whom are sophomores and freshmen.
The team across the board saw improvements this year, with their top seven runners all breaking the 18-minute barrier for the 5k, something only three of their runners did last year.
Jensen ran a personal best of 17:31, a whole minute faster than his freshman campaign, while Schmitt ran a 17:18 best this year, an almost 30-second improvement.
“In the past I think our varsity team has been all seniors,” Schmitt said. “This year we have a lot of promising freshmen and sophomores. Next year, hopefully we’ll be able to carry that into state.”