PASCO - Waitsburg-Prescott's Seth Deal didn't quite reach his goal of finishing top three here Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in State 1B/2B boys cross country action, but a fourth-place run in 16:46.7 for the sophomore is the best finish during W-P coach Joanna Lanning's tenure as cross country coach, and a jump of 17 places from Deal's 21st place finish in 2009.
"My best place since I've been coaching was 16th," Lanning said. "It's real exciting. Seth is so awesome. To be in the top five is amazing. It's great for him, great for the team and great for W-P."
W-P's lone entrant in the girl's race made her last race for W-P one of her best. Senior Isabel Benito finished 32nd in 22:08.4.
Benito was 34th in 22:40 in 2009.
Deal moved up steadily as the race progressed. He stood in sixth at the mile post, had moved to fifth at the two mile, and came home third, six seconds ahead of defending state champion Lucas Graham from Lacey's Northwest Christian.
"I'll take a top-five finish at state any day," Deal said. "I went out a little faster than I would've liked. It cost me some. I just wanted to run my race and leave it all out on the course, and I'm happy with it.
"I got a lot stronger over the summer, and would've liked to have run a little faster, but a top five is always good," Deal continued. "I was just focusing on one guy at a time. Just trying to pick one off at a time and move up."
NW Christian-Lacey's Justin Holden came from second to overtake St. George's Maxwell Choka in the last 20 yards to win the state title in 16:05.9. Choka was second in 16:06.4 and Republic's Jon Bennett finished ahead of Deal in third with a run of 16:32.4.
W-P, which finished ninth in the 2009 team race and lead by Deal's fourth, improved to finish seventh in 2010.
Senior Nick Carpenter was the next to cross for W-P as Carpenter finished 31st in 17:53. Senior Matthew Montgomery finished 82nd, freshman E.J. Meserve was 95th, and freshman Erik Sandoval, rounding out the five scoring members, posted a 101st place finish. Freshman Ben Moser also ran for W-P but did not figure in the scoring on this day.
W-P scored 238 points to take seventh behind Southeast Conference rival Tri-Cities Prep. The Jaguars earned the team title with 75 points.
"I was hoping for seventh or better," Lanning said of the team. "The seniors had great races and the freshmen came through very well. I'm extremely proud."
In the girls 1B/2B race, a freshman from Oroville knocked off the defending champion in 18:44.8. Sierra Speiker ran away from Colfax's defending champion Morgan Willson. Willson finished second in 18:57.7.
"I started off a little too fast, but overall it was great," Benito said of her 32nd-place finish. "I had a bad week at school with my breathing (asthma). I was a little too nervous and had an adrenalin rush (to start). That (too fast of a start) may have helped me, as the hills were my friends today.
"In the end, my coach (Lanning) was screaming for me to go fast," Benito continued. "That gave me the extra kick to finish, This was it (last race). I had to do it. It's my senior year and I had all these people here. I had to finish strong. It was amazing."
"She (Benito) did fantastic," Lanning said. "Our goal was to be right up with the Asotin girls (Sadie Johnson 30th, Sigourney Gundy 23rd), and ahead of the St. John girl (Erin Schuster 34th) that beat her at district. She did that. A 22:08 on this hilly course is fantastic and a great way to go out. She gave it everything she had."