Seth Mott projected a three person race.
The other two were ahead of him near the 2-mile mark at Hangman Valley Golf Course.
Time for some homework.
“There were a handful of kids who could have won it today,” University coach Bob Barbero said Wednesday after Mott claimed the Region IV-4A boys cross country championship. “Seth just happened to do his homework.”
Lesson No. 1 came Oct. 1, when Mt. Spokane’s Tom Becker ended Mott’s unbeaten season during a Greater Spokane League meet at Finch Arboretum. Becker won by 6 seconds.
Lesson No. 2 came four days later, when Becker’s time at the SunFair Invitational in Yakima was 8 seconds better than Mott’s.
Mott mulled over the two races and came to a conclusion.
“Don’t let him get too far in front of you,” Mott said. “That’s the main thing.”
So, in sequence, Mott picked off Dan Schruth of Ferris, his other prerace favorite, then glided past Becker with less than one mile left in the 3.1-mile race.
Becker chased Mott across the bridge spanning Hangman Creek, but the Titans senior had enough kick to win in 16 minutes, 25.9 seconds. Becker ran 16:29.
Mott turned around to watch teammates Dan Chavez (16:41) and Kris Martin (16:43) finish third and fourth. U-Hi scored a meet-low 37 points and led a GSL sweep over the Big Nine Conference for four state team berths.
“We thought the team would win, but I didn’t think we’d do that well,” Mott said. “1-4, that’s awesome.”
Barbero remained cautious toward the Nov. 8 state meet in Pasco, saying Gig Harbor and Snohomish should bring fine teams. But U-Hi is an overwhelming favorite to win the school’s first boys state title.
Schruth’s Saxons finished second with 88 points, well ahead of nine-time defending state champion Mead (122). Tyson Magney placed eighth and Andrew Ice, in 18th, had the top time for a freshman.
Mead encountered a mixed bag. No Panther finished higher than 19th (Matthew Lowe), early challenger Chris Deulen faded to 23rd and lone state veteran Josh McLellan placed behind six teammates. Still, all Panthers were bunched from places 19-31, within 17 seconds of one another.
Gonzaga Prep edged Lewis and Clark 154-156 for the final berth. Prep’s final scoring runners, Nos. 4 and 5 Patrick Weber and John Ullman, came in together, 11 seconds up on LC’s No. 5.
The GSL also gobbled up 15 of the top-20 individual places.
GSL girls were also dominant during the meet, which began after the morning’s nasty rain had passed.
Individual champion Emily Hawkins (19:17.8) of Ferris guided 12 GSL runners in the top 20. Eisenhower, ranked second in the state coaches poll behind Snohomish, edged Mead 111-114 for the team title but then the GSL kicked in.
Lewis and Clark and U-Hi earned the other state berths. Fourth-place U-Hi nipped Kennewick 139-140 when its No. 5, Robyn Cross, finished 13 places ahead of the Lions’ No. 5.
Seven of the top nine teams, and 11 of the top 13 individuals, were from the GSL.
Hawkins acknowledged that running in GSL meets prepared her for the regional title her brother, Isaac, won last year.
“I was really worried because this is such a good field, anything could happen,” Hawkins said. “I’m just real grateful I was able to run my race and push it when I needed to.”
Hawkins already had a sizeable lead before the first mile. Teammate Jill Johnson, second at region last year, fell in behind Hawkins and a stride ahead of U-Hi’s Jaime Miller.
Miller ultimately seized second and finished in 19:49, 4 seconds ahead of Mead’s Kelley Mattingly. Annie McCabe, who ran ahead of teammate Mattingly all year, was fifth in 20:06.
Mead has qualified for state in five of the last six years.
Ike senior Stephanie Heaton, who has placed third, fourth and 11th at state, clocked 20:00 for fourth.
District 7 races for 2A and 1A/B boys and girls begin at noon today at Hangman.
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