PASCO – As Madison Ward crested the top of the hill before hitting the final downhill stretch, she emerged from a fog and the finish line was in sight.
In a way, that was appropriate for Ward of St. George’s, who overcame an injury to capture the State 2B/1B championship Saturday morning at Sun Willows Golf Course.
Fourth at regionals after leading most of the race the week before when her body tightened up, Ward toured the 3.1-mile layout in 19 minutes, 11 seconds. Four seconds behind her was St. George’s teammate Marika Morelan.
They finished second and third respectively last year. Ward also was a runner-up as a freshman.
Ward, a senior, never felt better even though she was in pain afterward.
“I don’t think it was as fast as my previous (state) races because I didn’t have the training in the summer,” Ward said. “It’s a really good feeling. I was extremely nervous the whole year but especially this week. I was definitely concerned.”
Ward was concerned her quads might tighten up like they did at regionals. But she thinks the cold, rainy conditions had much to do with her difficulties last Saturday.
“I didn’t want that to happen again because I definitely wanted to win,” Ward said.
Morelan, a senior, was perfectly content with second.
“I started really conservatively so I’d have stuff left at the end,” Morelan said. “I’m very happy with the race. It was good to end my senior year on that note.”
Shania Graham of Republic took sixth (19:49). Northwest Christian teammates Rebekah Henry (20:05) and Madison Janke (20:06) were eighth and ninth respectively.
Ocosta won the team title with 72 points, four ahead of Asotin.
In the boys, NWC of Colbert took second with 140 points behind NWC of Lacey (47).
Jack Ammon led the Crusaders, placing third (16:17). Teammates Michah Henry (16:25) and Tyler Shea (16:38) were fifth and eighth respectively.
The sigh of relief along with the smile of contentment said it all for Brittany Aquino of East Valley.
Aquino, a placer since her freshman year, went out with a bang, capturing the state title (18:28).
“I finally got it,” Aquino said, smiling. “I had a conservative start. I was waiting for the 2-mile mark to bring the pace up a little. I’m so proud of what I’ve conquered.”
Aquino’s time topped her previous personal best – set as a freshman when she took third.
“I was so nervous this year with this being my last year,” Aquino said. “I ran the race exactly how I wanted.”
Pullman’s Elyria Kabasenche (19:10) was fifth and teammate Madeline Walker (19:18) took ninth.
Liberty of Issaquah won the team title with 75 points. Pullman took fifth.
In the boys, Sehome powered to the team title with 55 points. Cheney was seventh.
Jacob Nicholson of West Valley (16:12) was the top area finisher at 11th.
The Deer Park boys supplanted Medical Lake as state champs, finishing with 62 points – 32 points ahead of Medical Lake. Lakeside made it a 1-2-3 finish for the Northeast A.
Ben Shaw of Riverside took third (16:12) and Cody Bollum of Deer Park was fourth (16:13). Mason Williams of Medical Lake (16:24) took sixth.
“It’s a game changer for our confidence, especially for next year,” Bollum said of the team title. “We just lose two seniors. Medical Lake is already claiming they’re going to be state champions next year.”
Bollum followed his pre-race strategy well.
“I planned to start slow and move up through the pack at the end,” Bollum said.
In the girls, Deer Park took third (107) and Lakeside (119) was fourth. Northwest (69) won the team title.
Moriah Duenich took fifth (19:11) to lead Deer Park. Teammate Libby Michael was one second behind and sixth.
Mikayla Shuler took ninth (19:33) to lead Lakeside.
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