PASCO – History will show that the North Central boys cross country team captured a record-tying ninth straight State 3A championship Saturday.
The complete story it won’t tell, though, is how difficult the challenge was not only for the Indians but for defending individual champ Tanner Anderson.
Anderson came charging from behind to pull off a repeat, finishing in 14 minutes, 21.68 seconds under ideal conditions at Sun Willows Golf Course.
He shaved 11.15 seconds off the course record he set a year ago.
About halfway through the race, though, Anderson, a senior, thought he was finished. Rival and friend John Dressel of Mt. Spokane decided to break away, building as much as a 30-meter lead at the 2-mile mark.
“He put in the most ridiculous surge I’ve ever seen in my life,” Anderson said. “I’ve never raced anybody that would make an incredible move. At that point I thought I lost it. I thought ‘well done Johnny, you won.’ I kind of gave up mentally.”
With about a quarter mile to go, Anderson sensed Dressel was fading back to him.
“I could see he was slowing down and hurting,” Anderson said. “I thought I’m going to regret this the rest of my life if I don’t try one more surge. So I poured it on as much as I could.”
Anderson owned the final 500 meters as all Dressel could do was watch. Dressel finished second (14:35.65) in a time faster than Anderson’s a year ago.
Dressel was denied the title he longed for his final season.
“The strategy was to run really hard at the mile and a half mark where we had probably the biggest hill on the course,” he said. “I felt confident doing it, felt strong enough to do it, felt like I was within myself but I think I went a little too early. It came back to bite me at the end. If I would have waited a little later in the race to make a move I think I would have had him.”
Dressel said he locked up and had nothing left.
The individual win was less important to Anderson than what the team accomplished. NC tied the record set by the Pat Tyson-coached Mead teams (1988-1996).
NC finished with 41 points, holding off Kamiakin (55).
The Indians put five in the top 17.
NC coach Jon Knight was left to shake his head after watching Anderson’s finish.
“It was a performance for the ages,” Knight said.
Knight was watching the last third of the race when Anderson came by trailing Dressel.
“When he went by me with 1-kilometer to go I yelled ‘1k, you’ve got 1k’ and that’s two and a half laps on the track,” Knight explained. “You can make up a lot of distance in 2 1/2 laps on the track. I just wanted him to visualize it wasn’t that far if you’ve got 2 minutes to do it. He’s very explosive. I’m very curious what his last 400 meters (time) was. He was moving.”
Critical to NC’s defense of its title was senior Andrew Vandine, who was the Indians’ second finisher and seventh overall (15:27.00).
“I hurt,” Vandine said, smiling. “I got out faster than normal. The whole time I was battling out with a group of Kamiakin guys and I was battling it out mentally with the doubting voice in my head. There just came a point when I saw our normal No. 2 guy (Justin Janke) fading back. I think he was hurting because he went for it. I knew no matter how much I was hurting that I had to step up and do it for the team.”
Dressel’s brother, Hayden, a sophomore, took 10th (15:29.75); Janke took 12th (15:34.43); and Sam Sjoberg of NC was 15th (15:38.70).
In the girls, Micaela Kostecka of Mt. Spokane and Lauren Dunnell of Shadle Park were the top area finishers.
Kostecka took fifth (18:26.38) and Dunnell was sixth (18:30.73). Ashley Hauger of Shadle was 13th (18:48.11).
Andrea Masterson of Lakeside (Seattle) was the individual winner (17:30.90).
Holy Names won the team title with 83 points and Mountlake Terrace took second (109). Mt. Spokane finished fifth (175).
Briton Demars of Central Valley had every reason to think he could challenge for a title.
It turns out he was right. Demars, 28th a year ago, took third (15:24.38). Aaron Roe of Jackson won (15:15.20).
“I knew that I could win it,” Demars said. “I had that belief because we’ve been doubted all season as a team and as individuals. Our win at regionals showed we were ready to go.”
CV finished fifth with 168 points and University was seventh (180). Gig Harbor defended its title in a tight finish with 122. Eisenhower was four points back.
Liam Cossette of Ferris was 14th (15:47.41) and Patrick Miranne led U-Hi by placing 18th (15:51.41).
In the girls, Anisa Allaet of Ferris was the top local finisher. She took 16th (18:22.09), one spot ahead of Lewis and Clark freshman Katie Thronson (18:28.85).
Camas cruised to the team title with 64 points. CV took sixth (194) and LC was ninth (218).
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