Three Wa-Hi harriers headed to state

Aaron Nelson, JP Wolpert and Rachel Nelson post state-qualifying times

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WENATCHEE - Wa-Hi had a pair of its runners place in the top 10 Saturday during the Big Nine-Greater Spokane League 4A/3A Cross Country Championships at Walla Walla Point Park.

Aaron Nelson led the Blue Devil boys to a fourth-place finish by placing third with a mark of 14:48.23 over three miles.

"There was a lot of anticipation about this race - this was the first time this year that all three boys (Nelson and the pair that finished in front of him) have been in the same race together," said Wa-Hi head coach Mike Locati.

Only five seconds separated the top trio.

"I think Aaron learned some things from this race," Locati said. "These three boys could also be the top three in the state. It will be another interesting race next week and I know Aaron will be looking forward to it. I think he left today a little disappointed and will be hungry to prove himself next week."

JP Wolpert also qualified for state with a 12th place finish in 15:19.67.

"He was very jazzed about qualifying," Locati said. "I think JP will do very well and could be a top 20 or under performer. He ran a very solid, even-paced race. He's right where he had been training, so now we have to push that envelope a little at the state meet."

Rachel Nelson was the top Wa-Hi girls runner. Her time of 18:16.85 was good for seventh out of 80 runners participating and an invite to the state meet.

"She ran a solid race today," Locati said. "I think she has more in the tank and will be looking forward to what next week will bring. In the girls race right now, those top girls are so packed in and there is not much time separating them. Rachel is really looking good right now and this extra week I think will be exactly what she needs."

"Even though we didn't make it as a team and the boys are disappointed, overall they ran really well today," Locati said. "We had to have good races out of everyone."

Eleven teams competed.

Wa-Hi's Sean Newcomb crossed the finish line in 15:33.35 - a mark that earned him the No. 18 spot in the 78-runner field. Newcomb missed the individual qualifying time by three seconds.

"He ran a tremendous race," Locati said. "He has such a big heart. That's one thing you can't put a number on."

Eisenhower won in both boys and girls scores.

As a team, the Blue Devil girls were ninth.

"The girls ran their best times of the season," Locati said. "They have been working so hard and it's such a joy to see them improve and run the way they have been running at the end of the season. I know on both the boy's and girl's teams, many do not want the season to end. But that's also a great motivator for this winter. Now we'll look forward to supporting the three as they head to state."

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