Willy tops CK girls' state-class WCD run

"TUMWATER - Coach Mark Ward couldn't find the Central Kitsap High School cross country team bus after Wednesday's Class 4A West Central-Southwest District championships at overcrowded Tumwater Valley Golf Course.It was a bus Ward was going to need - not just to get home Wednesday night, but to take his girls team to next weekend's state meet at Pasco.The Cougars, paced by junior Cathleen Willy's spectacular second-place individual finish, went Ward's goal of qualifying for state one better.Four better, in fact.Fourth or eighth, it didn't matter, Ward said after the Cougars totaled 183 points and finished behind only Bellarmine (102), Gig Harbor (110) and South Kitsap (112) in the power-laden meet, from which the top eight teams and top 40 individuals advanced to state. If we finished eighth, I would know we were going.When they read off ninth place and they hadn't gotten to us yet, I knew we were in, Ward said of the post-meet awards ceremony. Then they kept going and I thought they'd forgotten us. By the time they got to fourth and said our name, I was almost bawling.It's awesome, Ward said of the Cougs' finish.Freshman Kim Reiland scored a ninth-place finish in her first district competition to bolster the Cougars' state bid. Crystal Lundahl, another freshman, was 20th. Megan Walker-Richards was the first of Olympic's four at-large entrants to finish, crossing in 26th place at 20:29.Willy, who won last week's Olympic League meet in dominant fashion, had a much tougher job working her way to the front of the classy district field. But she was able to keep her eye on Enumclaw's Alison Tubbs, who broke to the lead almost immediately, and gradually worked her way to where only Tubbs ran between her and the lead.I had a rough start, Willy said. I got closed in and kind of inundated by other runners. But I worked my way around.She was within 30 meters of Tubbs, and closing fast, as the leaders sprinted onto the driving range for the final quarter-mile loop to the finish. Her time of 18 minutes, 55.97 seconds left her a little more than 3.5 seconds behind Tubbs on the 3.1-mile course.Considering the start, I was pleased with it, Willy said of the run. If I'd gotten a little better start, I think I'd have been right up there.Ward said his No. 1 runner might've snuck up on some of the field, and not just because of her diminutive size.The advantage she had was that she's run in some low-key (invitational) meets, and nobody knows her, Ward said. I would've almost guaranteed top 10 for her, and hoped for top five.But second? Ward just raised his eyebrows and grinned.Willy said she felt the Tumwater Valley layout was a quick course, because of its fairly flat nature, but that it presented some challenges compared to the district course she's run in the past, at Lake Spanaway Park.This is all grass, and it was kind of spongy (because of recent rains), she said. I didn't know what to expect as far as the course, because I've never run here. But I felt good. I felt ... up-tempo.That was the way she raced, too.Partial results of the boys race finally were released late Thursday. Because of the close proximity of the finish line to the placement chute, the chute's inadequate length and the small number of course marshals at the finish, the official order of finish in the pack could not be determined, even after repeated viewings of video tapes.Only the top 62 individuals and top three teams could be determined. The remaining runners must go through a re-run this afternoon at 2 p.m. at Spanaway Lake Park.Bremerton's Joe Miller copped the top finish among local boys, crossing the line 24th and qualifying for a state berth as a sophomore. Olympic's Dan Frederick also earned a Pasco trip - though just barely - by finishing 39th. "

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