Although it was mostly fun and games mixed in with hurdling over hay bales, the Yelm Tornados cross country teams had good showings at last Wednesday’s Tacoma Twilight 2-mile race, with the boys taking third overall and the girls taking 10th. 

Boys Head Coach Alex McIntire said having that extra confidence in the team’s speed should help them going into the South Sound Conference Championship meet Thursday, Oct. 24, at Fort Steilacoom Park where, for the first time in a long time, the boys team is the favorite. 

“It’s more of a tune-up race for us,” he said. “It’s kind of a fun deal … The pressure isn’t as much as it sometimes is.”

Even if it was just for kicks, Yelm showed they meant business. 

For the first time in Tornado history, all of the boys’ top five runners ran under 10:35 for the 2-mile event, McInitire said. 

“This definitely shows that this is the best team Yelm’s ever had on the boys side,” McIntire said. 

Yelm finished third out of 15 teams from multiple divisions across the region. The team finished with an aggregate of 81, trailing fourth-place Emerald Ridge and fifth-place Peninsula by more than 40 points. 

Standout junior runner Bryce Cerkowniak finished second (9:37.56), junior Kelan Herness finished 15th (10:07.62), sophomore Ryan Lange finished 18th (10:20.16), sophomore Ethan Coon finished 22nd (10:24.46), senior Jacob Barnert finished 24th (10:32.57), senior Logan Faber finished 75th (11:28.64) and sophomore Calum Thornhill finished 84th (11:34.10). 

All seven boys will race on Yelm’s varsity team Thursday during the South Sound Conference championships. Freshman Zach Walsh, who came on to Yelm’s varsity team just weeks ago and is currently sitting as the team’s No. 7, will be the team’s eighth man, McIntire said. 

Walsh, who was pulled early on in the Twilight race for a minor injury, is somewhat of an anomaly for Yelm, McIntire said. He said it’s not often that junior varsity athletes, let alone freshmen, are added on to the team’s top roster days before the big league matchup. But with a 5K personal record of 18:26.5 and improving, Walsh could prove an important asset to Yelm’s back end. 

McIntire said Cerkowniak’s second-place finish was impressive, especially the fact that it wa only about 2 and a half seconds off senior Connor Griffith of 4A Olympia. 

On the girls side, a dynamic duo led Yelm to a decent result at the Tacoma Twilight 2-mile dash. Freshman Gabriella Willadsen (13:04.12) and junior Kya Ramirez (13:11.45) led the Tornado pack, finishing 23rd and 26th, respectively. 

Next up, sophomore Kaylee Faber finished 64th (14:14.76), freshman Natalie Webster finished 79th (14:35.93), junior Lenna Miskimens finished 115th (15:41.35), sophomore Clare Lawlor finished 120th (15:51.59), senior Eleanora Casarin finished 131st (16.09.37), junior Alyssa Brown finished 138th (16:26.80), freshman Anzley Wevodau finished 142nd (16:51.94), sophomore Zoe Mathson finished 142nd (16:52.41) and junior Samantha Longfellow finished 158th (19:27.87). 

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