8th In State!

What a season this has been for the boys cross country team! 7 – 0 dual meet record. League champions. And now 8th in the state. Adding to the excitement, Olga ran a strong race and did a great job representing our girl’s team. Here is the skinny on our state meet experience.

First of all–the course. For almost twenty years the state meet has been held at the Sun Willows golf course in Pasco. During this time, it has gone through a few changes. The original course was three miles. Now it is 5K. It used to have only a few hills and no sharp turns. Now it is continually rolling, with several sharp turns. This year due to construction on the golf course, several changes were made, which meant more hills and more sharp turns. It is difficult to say how much of an impact these changes had on the times, but they definately had an impact. The times were slower this year than last year all around. Adding to this, a strong wind developed by the 3A boys race. I think it was at least a :20 second slower course than last year’s.

Secondly, the pre-race preparation. I have learned over my years of coaching that the pre-race routines are crucial. People need to be confident and comfortable, and they need to stay lose and enjoy themselves. At the same time you don’t want people goofing around and wasting energy and losing focus. It is a difficult balance to strike. We found that balance this year by occupying our time with a Fight Night tournament Friday night and Saturday morning. We had preliminary bouts. We created a tournament bracket. We played a double elimination tournament. Ranvir barely squeaked out a victory over Coach Rettmann. Beating up people on the XBox did wonders for our race preparation. Last year, Halo was the winning distraction for Sam as he prepared to win the state championship. This year we switched to Fight Night because I (coach Rettmann) suck too badly at Halo.

Thirdly, the support system. We have been very fortunate to have a group of family members and former team members who have provided incredible support for this team. The Deans, the Milands, the Turnbulls, the Fergusons were all there cheering us on. Sam Ahlbeck, Tori Swanson, Tori Turnbull, Michael Williams, Benny Houchins, Matt Dean, Eric Fisher, Madeline Platt, and Patty Harvey were all there as well. And of course Jenny Swanson and Josh Kratzer. Javier Casio was on the phone listening to the play by play from Sam the entire race. Brett Johnson was text messaging and watching the results on the website. This kind of support and love makes a difference. Thanks everyone.

Fourthly, the team. I have never coached seven runners who committed themselves both to 1) doing everything I asked of them as a coach and 2) to caring about and helping one another as much as this group has. This commitment to the team and to one another makes a difference. It is why this team was undefeated. It is why they placed 8th at state.

Fifthly, the race. Chris Miland’s race plan was to be in the top twenty runners at the mile mark, and then start surging and moving into the top twelve. He did this exaclty. He ran a beautiful race. It was smart. It was bold. It was gutsy. I have rarely seen anyone push as hard as Chris did. He attacked. He responded to attacks by other runners. He pushed through the pain. And I think he loved it. He finished only two places out of the awards stand, but he beat the Sequim runner who beat him at League and Districts. He will be on the platform next year.

Tor Ferguson showed guts, heart, and desire from the beginning. He has learned that he runs best when he goes out hard, which is exaclty what he did at state. He has developed a look in his eyes when he races that says "don’t mess with me–I mean business." Some people get intimidated at the state meet. Not Tor. He ran to beat people. And he did. In fact, he was the fifth runner from our district, which means that he beat six people who beat him the previous week.

Andy Dean was a man with a plan and a mission. He went out very smart the first mile (about 5:30), and then kept picking people off throughout the race. The last half-mile in particular, Andy passed large numbers. In fact, he caught about ten runners in the last 100 meters. His finish alone allowed us to pull ahead of Peninsula and Blanchet in the team score.

James Turnbull capped off a solid season with a solid race. He had been sick all week. I think he took more cold medicine before the race than is probably legal. Running at the state meet is hard enough, let alone when you can’t breathe because of a cold. But he didn’t let that stop him. In fact, I never heard him complain or make an excuse. He ran with his teammate Andy most of the race. He passed quite a few people in the final mile. He did his job.

Matt Miland got the rare experience of being a freshman running at the state meet. Not only was he in the race, but he was the #5 runner–a scorer–on the 8th place team! Matt went with Andy and James as long as he could, then faded a little with a mile to go. But he ran strong and passed several people in the final 800 meters, and even in the final 100 meters. His strong finish saved us points.

Ranvir Sahota was determined to make the most of the final cross country race of his high school career. If anyone deserved to have a good race it was Ranvir. He has worked so hard and had such a good attitude. But his tendonitis has not allowed to train much in the past month, and it keeps him from running hard down hills or having a quick turn-over rate. Nonetheless, Ranvir didn’t complain or feel sorry for himself. He went out and tried to run with our pack. He faded after the mile, but kept pushing, even when he saw he was out of our top five. With about 400 meters to go, Ranvir made an inspiring last push to pass as many people as he could. He drove harder than anyone on the team up the final hill before the finish.

David Rice ran a smart and strong race throughout. His goal was to run an intelligent first mile, and then hammer the last two. He did exactly that. At the mile he surged. He made moves on runners the remainder of the race. And he finished with a great kick. Last Spring David had only one, or at most two, gears to his running. He has now developed at least four. All were on display Saturday.

Olga Sievers surprised herself by qualifying for the state meet to begin with. It is difficult to run at the meet when you don’t have a team with you to keep you company and to make you feel connected. Olga handled this difficulty very well. In the race she competed well right from the gun. She positioned herself perfectly in the first mile (about 6:20ish), and then she followed coach Kratzer’s suggestion of surging between the flags. She came in strong at the finish.

The most impressive part of the accomplishment of 8th place is that we did it without our #2 runner (Ranvir) healthy. When Ranvir got hurt, he was running #2 for us most of the time. Had he been healthy and able to run with Tor, we would have dropped about 50 points from our score, which would have put us 5th place. It truly takes a team effort to lose one of your top runners and still have this kind of success.

14th Chris Miland 16:37
45th Tor Ferguson 17:09
74th Andy Dean 17:24
86th James Turnbull 17:36
112th Matt Miland 17:55
121st Ranvir Sahota 18:05
130th David Rice 18:18

119th Olga Sievers 21:54

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