Blue Devil harriers third at district meet

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WENATCHEE - Wa-Hi's girls battled Richland down to the sixth runner, with the Bombers edging the Blue Devils for second place at the Columbia Basin Big Nine Class 4A District cross country meet at Walla Walla Point State Park here Thursday.

The Blue Devil boys also finished third at the District meet.

"We had another battle today with Richland for second place in league," Wa-Hi coach Mike Locati said. "It lived up to its billing. Richland and Wa-Hi were tied through all five of their counting numbers, then went to the sixth runner, and Richland's sixth came in before ours, which gave the win to Richland.

"Our girls battled well," he said. "It's going to be an interesting scenario at regionals next week. There are only three teams moving on to state. The first two teams are pretty solid and will probably be taken by Ike and Central Valley, but after that there are probably three or four teams that all have a shot at that last spot - who it will be will probably depend on whether anyone has a breakout race."

Rachel Nelson led the Blue Devil girls with a fifth-place finish in 18:48 on the three-mile course.

"She is starting to run better," Locati said of Nelson. "Hopefully in these next two weeks she can be back to her original form and make a run at State."

Teammate Hannah Hampson followed in sixth in 19:03, and Catherine Feistner was seventh in 19:09.

"They continue to be so solid and consistent," Locati said of the duo. "Today's race was no exception. Those two have improved so much this year because of the hard work they put into the offseason, and it's really showing up in their racing."

Wa-Hi's Lea Davidson was 18th in 20:04.

"Lea was a key today, also," Locati said. "Her last 800 was a gutsy performance. She passed and held off several runners, which gave us a shot at beating Richland."

On the boys side, J.P. Wolpert finished fifth in 15:44.

"J.P. raced well today, but commented on his legs feeling heavy," Locati said. "So, hopefully, with the taper this week his legs will feel fresher and he'll be ready to roll."

Wenatchee's Jacob Smith won the District title in 14:34.

"Right now, I would have to say that he is the State favorite," Locati said of Smith.

Blue Devil Greggory Heller was 11th in 16:04, and Blake Gerling was 20th in 16:32.

"They (Wa-Hi's boys) are running well, but we are hoping to also punch a spot into state," Locati said. "It's going to be tough, but we are not out of the picture. Like on the girls side, there are several teams who are so very similar. Any good day by one team could be the difference.

"Ike and Wenatchee would be the favorites going in, leaving one more spot," he said. "The guys today took a risk, went out fast but were unable to hold on after 1.5 miles. We were looking really good, but the early pace was just a little too fast. We now know what that line is so next week we can make adjustments."

The CBBN/Greater Spokane League Regional meet is at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Wandermere Golf Course in Spokane.

"Individually, both J.P. and Rachel should punch a ticket to state, and Hannah and Catherine both have outside shot," Locati said.

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