October 13, 2005 in Voices

Ready to win

Steve Christilaw Correspondent
 
Liz Kishimoto photo

Larson Agee, second from left, leads the West Valley girls cross country team in an afternoon run.
(Full-size photo)

Larsen Agee likes to chase boys.

What separates the West Valley cross country standout from the rest of the female population is that fact that she literally chases boys.

“I like to run with the boys every chance I get,” the red-headed senior explained. “I like running with my teammates, but it’s a different experience to run with the boys’ team. For one thing, when I run with the girls I’m out in front. When I run with the boys, I’m chasing them. It’s a challenge just to keep up with them.”

Most of the time, it’s the rest of the field working to keep up with Agee.

Agee is poised for a run at a third consecutive State 3A girls high school cross country championship race. As a sophomore, Agee helped the Eagles to a seventh-place team finish. As a junior she ran under 20 minutes to place 29th.

But it all started with the hurdles.

As a freshman, Agee ran track for the Eagles (“Cross country was a little scary,” she confided).

“Larsen was a pretty good hurdler as a freshman,” coach Jim McLachlan said. She ran sub-50-second times in the 300 hurdles, and she was a pretty good high jumper. She jumped 4-10, but high jumping was hard on her nerves and we started to gravitate toward running distances.”

That’s when West Valley assistant track and cross country coach Gene Blankenship made his sales pitch.

“He’s the one who talked me into it,” Agee laughed. “He just told me I ought to think about running cross country. He thought it would make me a better track athlete.”

Once she addressed her initial fear, Agee made her presence felt.

“Last year, when Kristyne Westerman, our No. 1, couldn’t run, Larsen really took off and became our No. 1,” McLachlan said. “She ran well. As a matter of fact, she was showing signs of taking off like that as a sophomore.

“She had a really good state meet last year and followed that up with an outstanding track season. She worked hard over the summer and is just having a great season. She has set some very good goals for herself and she’s accomplishing them. She works hard and always seems to do a little extra.”

Agee heads into the final two weeks of the regular season uninjured and ready to run.

And ready to win.

“I don’t see any reason why she won’t have a great state meet this year,” McLachlan said. “She’s won two races already this year and that’s a big deal. A lot of kids can run well and place high, but it takes a little something extra to go out and actually win a race.

“When she wins a race, she realizes she can run with anyone.”

McLachlan likes Agee’s competitive drive.

“She finished second in the one down at Clarkston and then turned around and beat the girl that won soundly in our league meet,” he said “She’s had some very good races with Jo E. Mayer, the No. 1 from East Valley, and North Central’s Mary Graesser. Those three are the three best Class 3A runners (in the Greater Spokane League).”

Agee and Mayer have traded victories over one another this season – an improvement from last year’s state meet, where Mayer finished ninth, 50 seconds ahead of Agee.

“So far, throughout the season, I’ve gotten progressively better,” Agee said. “I’m doing better than I did last year.

“Jo E. and I have traded back and forth – she’s beaten me; I’ve beaten her. She may have improved during the season since the last time we raced, but I’ve been keeping an eye on her.”

Agee said she learned a great deal about running a state championship meet – information she plans to use to her advantage one final time.

“There are so many people at the state meet,” she said. “My sophomore year running state the whole team made it. I think some of us took advantage of being there. It was a little like, ‘Oh, look, we made it here. It doesn’t really matter what we do now.’ I don’t think I ran my best that year.

“My junior year I went as an individual – my team didn’t get to go. I placed 29th, and it was a little nerve-wracking being out there without my teammates. I was getting better, but I wasn’t at my potential.”

McLachlan feels Agee’s potential will carry her on to run at the college level.

“She wants to,” he said. “She’s not over-trained or anything like that. She’ll be a great asset for anyone who decides to pursue her.”


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email