Harriers ready for state meet

The Wa-Hi girls cross country team takes to Sun Willows Golf Course at the state meet Saturday.

The Wa-Hi girls cross country team takes to Sun Willows Golf Course at the state meet Saturday.

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Blue Devil Juan Cortez qualified for the state meet with a sixth-place finish at the regional meet.

WALLA WALLA — The Washington state cross country meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco Saturday features the Walla Walla High girls team, Blue Devil Juan Cortez, and Waitsburg-Prescott harriers Emily Adams and E.J. Meserve.

The meet begins with the Class 1B/2B girls’ race at 10 a.m., with the 1B/2B boys at 11:30 a.m., the 4A girls at 1 p.m., and the 4A boys at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I couldn’t be happier with both of my athletes,” W-P coach Joanna Lanning said following last Saturday’s District 7/9 meet at Plantes Ferry in the Spokane Valley that qualified Adams and Meserve.

Adams finished fourth, and Meserve 13th, in Spokane.

The Blue Devil girls, as well as Cortez, qualified at the Wandermere Golf Course in Spokane, with the girls team finishing second behind Courtney Cox’s second-place finish individually.

Cortez came in sixth.

The Wa-Hi girls are ranked ninth in the latest Class 4A Washington State Coaches Poll.

“The team is a little tired after last week’s regional race, but we should be ready to go,” Wa-Hi coach Michael Locati said. “They are extremely excited and are hoping for a top-five finish. They have their work cut out for them as we have yet to come across many of the teams that will be competing. It’s hard to be exact on how we match up, but I have confidence in the girls and know that they can run even better than they did last week.”

Following Cox’s second-place finish, Wa-Hi’s Hannah Hampson, Erika Leinweber, Catherine Feistner and Lea Davidson finished 15-18th at the regional meet.

“Juan looks good and is confident after his best race this season at the regional race,” Locati said of Cortez. “It’s always a blessing to see your seniors excel, after all the time and energy they have put into their high school running career and to finish knowing that the journey was worth it.

“Courtney is excited about her opportunity and position individually, but she is more excited to have her team with her sharing the state experience,” he said of Cox, who finished 18th individually at last year’s state meet.

Sun Willows provides challenges for the state runners.

“The state course is deceiving and can be more difficult than it looks,” Locati said. “It also causes you to race different than many have all season due to the large numbers of runners with equal abilities. It’s easy to get out too fast and have a hard time holding pace, or to get caught in a pack and have a difficult time getting through and moving up. Both can cause issues and you have to be able to adapt. Those that can will usually expect to have their best races of the season.

“But we like to say, ‘Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go,’” he said. “They all hope to run well this weekend. They know there is no plan B, it’s a one-time shot and would be a great way to finish this season. They have all had a great season in so many ways and I am so very proud of them and honored to be their coach.

“They look forward to the last challenge of running with the best runners in the state.”

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