Wa-Hi harrier Sean Newcomb is cheered on by teammates during the district cross country race Thursday.
Photo courtesy of Michael Locati
RICHLAND — Powered by a first-place finish from Sean Newcomb and three other finishers in the top six, the Wa-Hi boys won the Class 4A division of a Mid-Columbia Conference cross country meet held by Hanford at Leslie Grove Park in Richland Thursday.
The Blue Devil boys scored 29 points and beat 4A runner-up Richland by a single point.
On the girls side, Wa-Hi placed second out of the only two complete Class 4A teams present. Richland won that classification with 23 points to the Blue Devils’ 32.
“Today was a banner day for the Wa-Hi harriers,” Blue Devil coach Michael Locati said. “The boys managed to pull off a win over Richland, and they beat us twice this season in league meets. It was a battle to the end. It was very intense and was up for grabs all the way to the end.
“We really had some great performances by several of the boys,” he said. “The neat thing was that the performances are what they have been very capable of and they are now showing up at the right time.”
Newcomb’s district victory garnered accolades from his coach.
“Sean’s performance was, to say the least, dominating,” Locati said. “Right after the first mile he just accelerated and opened up a gap very quickly on the top group and never looked back, winning by 30 seconds.”
Newcomb, a senior, ran the 5-kilometer race in 15 minutes, 54.4 seconds, beating the next fastest time posted by Class 3A Kamiakin’s Ahmed Ibrahim by 10 seconds (16:04.1).
The next closest runner in the 4A race was Richland’s Michael Williams, who finished in 16:24.8. Ben Wolpert finished third in 16:33.8, Juan Cortez fifth in 17:15.6, and Zach Telfer sixth in 17:16.7.
“(Ben) ran a great race also,” Locati said. “Sean and Ben helped one another as they teamed up in the first mile leading the pack. It gave them both momentum and helped their confidence.
“Juan and Zach really made a big difference today as their performances, more than any really, helped move us past Richland,” he said. “I’m proud of all of them today.”
Wa-Hi’s Courtney Cox led the girls finishers with a third-place finish in 19:40.8.
Hannah Hampson (20:24.2) and Rachel Nelson (20:35.6) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Catherine Feistner (20:40) and Lea Davidson (21:08.6) rounded out Wa-Hi’s finishers in the top 10 with eighth- and 10th- place finishes, respectively.
“The girls going up against Richland (ranked No. 2 in the state) also ran some of their best performances this season,” Locati said. “The times are misleading because of the slow course, but to watch them compete today was pure joy. These girls never give up and battle like no one else.
“Even though we lost to Richland, we continue to make up ground on them, scoring more points each time we meet,” he said. “The thing that most impressed me today with the girls was their ability to gut out the last mile. No one runs the last mile faster than these girls. If you look at their splits, they continually end up making that last mile one of their fastest. Today it was evident as they were able to open up gaps and close gaps over the last mile.
“All of these girls deserve recognition for how they are running,” Locati said. “This group is the fastest girls team I have coached. They just happen to running against one of the best team in the state.”
The Blue Devils next compete at a 3A/4A Regionals meet in Richland on Oct. 27.
“We are looking forward to this week’s training as we begin to sharpen up for the regional race,” Locati said.