Wa-Hi's Newcomb 15th at state cross country meet

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PASCO — Sean Newcomb ran a 15-minute and 48.6-second race Saturday to take 15th in the Washington Class 4A cross country championships held at Sun Willows Golf Course.

The Wa-Hi senior competed against 151 runners in the 5,000-meter race.

“Sean was OK with the race, but not real pleased,” Blue Devil coach Mike Locati said. “We thought he could run 15 seconds faster. The boys (race) went out real fast, 10 seconds faster than Sean has gone out.

“He doesn’t have the speed that some of the runners have,” Locati said. “He is more of a strength runner. The speed in the first part hurt him. It was still a good race for him and one he can build on.”

Mead’s Andrew Gardner took the individual boys title with a run of 15:02.3. Central Valley, out of the Greater Spokane League, claimed the team title with a score of 89 to outdistance second-place finisher Eisenhower. The Cadets scored 130 to finish second.

On the girls side for the Blue Devils, sophomore Courtney Cox ran to 18th in her first state competition.

Cox covered the 5,000 meters in 18:55.4.

“Being her first (state) meet, Courtney was very successful,” Locati said. “She went in wide-eyed and not knowing what to expect, and she was the only Wa-Hi runner. She handled the pressure well. The girls from the West Side (of Washington) are very strong. To finish in the top 20 was good and she was happy with the effort.”

Camas’ Alexa Efraimson won the girls title in a dominating 17:34.2. Efraimson finished 35 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Mt. Rainier’s Jordan McPhee. McPhee was second in 18:10.9.

Ben Wolpert came home 26th for the Wa-Hi boys. Wolpert ran 16:03.5.

“Ben exceeded our expectations,” Locati said. “With his leg injuries, he was pleased to be running. He competed well, ran a solid and consistent race, and finished well.”

Cox and Wolpert will return for the Blue Devils to make a run at the 2013 championships.

“Overall, it was a successful state meet for all three,” Locati said. “They had momentum coming in as they had been racing well toward the end of the season. They went in with confidence and high hopes.

“Our plan for all three was to be in touch with the lead,” Locati added. “The (state) races always go out quick and it takes a lot out of you. After that, we just wanted to feel it out. The racing went well. It was a good way to end the season.”

Newcomb, thanks to his top 17 finish, earned a spot in the Nike Border Clash in two weeks. The top runners from Washington and Oregon earn invitations to the week end at the Nike campus. Cox was selected as first alternate on the girls side.

“Sean had a great season,” Locati said. “You’re not defined as a runner by one meet. He has consistently proven that he is one of the top 10 runners in the state. He’ll run in the Boise regional next week, then the Border Clash. He still has goals to accomplish.”

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