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Amongst some of the toughest competition in the state, Yelm junior Bryce Cerkowniak broke his school’s record in the cross country 5K and placed 5th in the boys gold with a time of 15:22.30, besting last season’s record by more than 22 seconds.

Finishing with a time of 15:05.90 in the boys varsity 3-mile race, junior Yelm runner Bryce Cerkowniak became the first athlete from his school to finish first at the annual John Payne/Curtis Cross Country Invitational. 

The announcement came last weekend from Yelm High School Athletics shortly after the conclusion of the 24th-annual event hosted at the Chamber Creek Regional Park near Steilacoom. 

About 50 high school teams from around the Pacific Northwest competed in the varsity races. Runners were split into two heats, with each school’s top-four runners taking the first heat and the fifth through eighth fastest taking the second heat. 

Cerkowniak’s first-place finish was roughly 7 seconds faster than senior Rogers (Spokane) runner Issak Chol and junior Daniel Lee’s times. Last year, the standout junior runner placed third. 

Down the line, junior Yelm runner Kelan Herness placed 47th with a personal best of 16:20.80 in the 3-mile. Ryan Lange wasn’t too far behind Herness; the sophomore placed 54th with a time of 16:25.5. 

Sophomore Ethan Coon placed 143rd among tough competition, clinching a personal record of 17:58.90. 

The Tornados didn’t fare as well in the race’s second heat. Senior Jacob Barnert finished 50th with a time of 17:37 flat. 

Freshman Zachary Walsh had a good run, finishing 71st with a time of 17:59.80. Having also recently finished first in the JV 5,000-meter race at last Wednesday’s SSC meet in Shelton, the junior varsity regular has shown considerable strides among his peers. 

Yelm senior Logan Faber clocked in at the 100th spot, finishing with a time of 18:41.40. Sophomore Calum Thornhill finished 110th with a time of 18:56.90. 

On the girls side, two athletes from Rainier had a good day on the course. Sophomore Selena Niemi and senior Sophie Beadle, the Mountaineers’ only two competitors, took 45th and 53rd, respectively, amongst tough competition. 

Niemi set a personal record in the 3-mile with a time of 20:03.10, besting her record last year by more than 2 minutes. Beadle also had a personal record, clinching a time of 20:23.70. 

Down the line of the first heat, Yelm freshman Gabriella Willadsen finished 73rd with a time of 21:08.90. Junior Kya Ramirez wasn’t too far behind, and the second-year runner finished 84th with a time of 21:29.60. 

Sophomore Kaylee Faber and junior Lenna Miskimens trailed toward the end of the pack, finishing 109th and 117th, respectively. Faber clocked in at 22:40.20 and Miskimens finished at 23:39.20. 

The Tornados found considerable success in the second heat. Freshman Natalie Webster, senior Elizabeth Unruh and senior Eleonora Casarin held close and finished 87th, 92nd and 117th, respectively. 

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