After a long season, and many miles logged, all but a lucky few high school cross country runners have finished off their season. After putting their all into last weekend’s state-qualifying meet, a handful of both Yelm and Rainier runners will be moving on to the final race of the year. 

Yelm

Out of the four runners for the Yelm boys team, two will be moving on to state. Sophomore Bryce Cerkowniak has been leading the Yelm pack all season and last weekend was no exception. He finished second, behind Bradley Peloquin of Gig Harbor with a time of 16:19. 

Going into state, Cerkowniak and head coach Alex McIntire have big expectations, expecting Cerkowniak to place near the top.

“I believe that Bryce has sent a strong message to the rest of the state that he is ready to compete at the state level,” McIntire said. “It is very exciting that Bryce will be shooting for a spot on the podium, which would put him in the top 16 of the state.  If Bryce runs what I believe he is capable of, he will find himself in the top seven.”

Junior Jacob Barnert finished 29th for Yelm with a time of 17:36, he will also be moving on to state this weekend. Barnert is a bit of a wildcard going into state, as he was not ranked, but still managed to place fairly high in districts. 

“Jacob had the race of the meet.  Coming into the race, he was not even ranked in the top 50, but managed to come through the line in 28th place.  This is a result of a new found confidence and a lot of hard work,” McIntire said. “He is fired up after his performance at districts, and is not content with simply qualifying for state. He is going to come off the start line stronger than ever and take a risk. I expect to see a big personal record from him.”

Freshman Ethan Coon narrowly missed the cut to qualify for state, coming in 44th with a time of 18:03, an impressive feat for a freshman. Last, but certainly not least, for the Yelm boys team was Xavier Canel, coming in with a time of 20:43. 

“Ethan and Xavier got the experience they will need to be successful next year.  They now know what it is like to compete with the districts top athletes, and will be looking to move forward next year.”

The Yelm girls will also be sending one runner onto state next weekend. Senior Katelynn Strate ran the race in just under 20 minutes, placing 13th overall, qualifying her as an individual for state. Just under a minute shy of qualifying was sophomore Kya Ramirez who ran the race in 22:21. Molly Embrey wasn’t far behind at 23:09. Anna Thaler, Elena Castanon, Lenna Miskimens and Lauren Jones also ran in the district race for Yelm. The girls placed 14th out of 16 total teams. 

“The district race went really well for us. Molly, Lauren, and Kya were just off of their season best times. Elena, Lenna, and Anna all had lifetime PR’s, and Katelynn had a season best time on the course. She placed five places higher than last year at the same race and ran about 45 seconds faster than last year as well,” head girls coach Dan Baker said. “Katelynn has gotten progressively faster this season, and the only race where she has run faster than this past weekend was at the state meet last year. Katelynn has been racing exceedingly well this season. Our goal for state is to beat the time from last year.”

Going into the state race, Cerkowniak is ranked 15th out of all 3A runners and Barnert and Strate are not ranked in the top 50. 

Rainier

The Rainier girls continued to show their dominance at their district race in Onalaska last weekend, taking first place as a team by a wide margin. 

Elaina Hansen placed third in the race with a time of 19:23. Selena Niemi and Sophie Beadle were not far behind, coming in sixth and ninth respectively, with times of 20 minutes and 20:08. Running fourth and fifth for Rainier was Nina Rostock and Hazel Busic. Rostock came in 28th with a time of 21:58 and Busic placed 31st coming in only six seconds later. Rounding out the Rainier pack were seniors Nina Guizzetti and Alexis Diamond, coming in at 23:20 and 23:34, respectively. The entire girls team will be moving on to state next week. 

On the boys side for Rainier Ryan Doidge qualified for state individually, coming in 26th with a time of 17:42, as did Dylan Davis who came in 34th with a time of 18:02. 

Going into state Hansen was ranked 7th among 1B/2B runners thanks to setting a new personal record during the district race. Niemi and Beadle also ran their best race of the season, ranking themselves 13th and 16th among 1B/2B schools. The remainder of the Rainier runners did not make the top 50, as many runners set new personal bests during their district races.  

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