Northwest Christian High School cross country coach Mike Michael walked the course three times the day before the 2018 Bill Kehoe South Sound Invitational cross country meet just to make sure everything was accurate.

The majority of the event’s setup was done the day before at Saint Martin’s University, but Michael and the rest of the race’s officials, still arrived at 6:00 a.m. the day of the meet.

“There was still plenty to do this morning,” Michael added.

That there was as this year’s event, which included the addition of a community 5K race and middle school races, saw a sizable upgrade with 40 team competing.

“It looked like we had about 1,300 runners,” said Michael about the October 6 race. “We can do bigger than this. Our goal next year is to do more. We want to grow it again next year and keep growing it.”

Elsa Wirth
Olympia freshman Elsa Wirth (No. 803) finished fourth overall in the girls race. Photo credit: Grant Clark

Olympia’s Connor Griffith continued his strong junior campaign by winning the boys 5,000-meter race in 15:38 to help the Bears claim the overall team title with 87 points.

Bothell, which had the race’s runner-up in senior Amrit Banga (15:52.4), finished second in the boys team standings with 98 points, while Northwest Christian (126 points) and North Thurston (176) finished third and fourth, respectively.

“It’s a deep field. It’s a tough race,” said Michael, whose 2B squad was one of the smaller schools in the field. “It helps having these good teams come out. It gets other good teams interested in coming here. We want to go head-to-head with bigger teams. You need that competition.”

Capital (sixth place), Tumwater (16th), River Ridge (18th), and Tenino (25th) rounded out the list of local schools participating on the boys side.

NWC Invite
Olympia runners Max Barnes (No. 625), Connor Griffith (No. 629) and Tilahun Castro (No. 626) battle for the lead at the annual Bill Kehoe South Sound Cross Country Invite. Photo credit: Grant Clark

Griffith, whose best time of 15:29.2 came at the Stanford Invitational on September 29 and is the seventh best performance this year among 4A runners, was one of four Olympia runners to place in the top 25.

The Bears also received strong times from junior Max Barnes, who stopped the clock in 16:34.4 to finish 16th overall. Olympia senior Tilahun Castro (16:42.7) finished 21st in the race, while junior teammate Ben Kosa was 22nd (16:48.9).

Bears freshman Ethan Coleman crossed the wire in 17:01.9 to place 27th. Coleman was the top performing ninth grader at the event and the only freshman to place in the top 35 on the boys side.

Northwest Christian juniors Noah Phillips, Cameron Neilsen, and Garrett McSheffrey all finished among the top 11.

South Sound Invite
Northwest Christian coach Mike Michael (far right) shouts out times to Navigator junior Noah Phillips (No. 611) during the early stages of the South Sound Invite. Photo credit: Grant Clark

Phillips led the way for the Navigators, collecting a third-place finish with a season-best time of 15:56.5.

Neilsen was ninth, finishing the race in a personal record time of 16:28.3, and McSheffrey was 11th (16:31.6).

“We were looking for a bunch of PRs today,” Michael said. “I backed them off quite a bit this week. We only did one hard work out. We backed the mileage down, laid off the weights a lot. We kind of wanted to get them ready for a mini peak with this race.”

North Thurston sophomore Samir Amin (16:10.5) registered a fourth-place finish for the Rams, while his older brother, senior Sajid Amin, was 19th overall (16:39.3).

Josh Newman was the top finisher for Tumwater, finishing 15th in the boys race (16:32.8).

Bothell, which had the first- and second-place finishers in Kerstin Ly (19:12.6) and Monserrat Lopez (19:21.3), won the girls championship with a total of 44.

Capital was second with 92 points, Olympia (120) was third and Northwest Christian (160) was fourth.

Bill Kehoe South Sound Invite
Olympia’s Natalie Howell crosses the finish line at the annual Bill Kehoe South Sound Invite. Photo credit: Grant Clark

North Thurston (10th), Tumwater (12th), and River Ridge (17th) also competed in the girls race.

Olympia freshman Elsa Wirth (19:29.3) was the top local finisher among the girls, finishing fourth. The Bears also got a 10th from junior Kate Riggs (20:17.2).

Capital had three runners place in the top 20 in Shasta Hecht (11th, 20:22.2), Grace Playstead (16th, 20:37.1), and Kallie Kidder (19th, 20:49.6).

Northwest Christian senior Ava Shackell finished sixth (19:52.9), while Tumwater sophomore Lydia Jack was 20th overall in the girls’ race (20:51.4).

The race is named in honor of founding Northwest Christian cross country coach and 2016 Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee Bill Kehoe.

Ryan Brown, the 2006 NCAA 800-meter champion at the University of Washington, and his wife, Anita Campbell, who was a two-time All-American with the Huskies and is a current assistant coach for UW’s track team, distributed the medals to the athletes during a closing awards ceremony, while Lacey mayor Andy Ryder served as the honorary starter for the two varsity high school races.

“One of our goals here is to make this a huge high school meet,” Michael said. “We want all the high schools in our area to come and compete in it.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email