For the first time in 14 years, the Rainier High School girls cross country team are district champions.
The Mountaineers had three runners finish among the top 8, including senior Elaina Hansen, who placed third overall in a school record-setting time, to capture the Class 1B/2B District IV crown in Onalaska on October 27.
“They set a goal at the beginning of the year to win the league, district, and place at state,” Rainier head coach Rob Henry said. “So far they have accomplished two of the three. With the way they are running, I think they can accomplish their goals.”
The top finishers in the race advance to the state cross country meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco on November 3.
Rainier finished with 49 total points to claim the girls’ title. Northwest Christian, which was looking to defend its district title, was second in the overall standings with 70, while Pope John Paul 2 finished fourth with 102.
It marked the Mountaineers first district cross country championship since 2004 and the program’s third overall.
“This has been a fantastic year,” Henry said. “The girls are one of the hardest working as well as one of the funniest groups of kids that I’ve had the pleasure to be around.”
Hansen, who also claimed the Central 2B League championship this season, was the top performing local in the field, covering the 5K district in a personal record time of 19 minutes, 23.3 seconds.
Hansen secured her fourth trip to the state meet with her third-place finish. She placed 16th overall at state as a freshman in 2015, 25th in 2016, and 23rd last year. Her time at the district championship meet was the seventh faster this season in the 1B/2B classification.
Hansen’s mark also set the school record as she bettered the previous benchmark of 19:34.4 set by Kristen Schoenherr at the 2007 District 4 championships.
“Elaina has be a real treasure to coach. In my 20 years of coaching, I don’t think I have had a harder working individual than Elaina,” Henry said. “She has set high expectations for herself. She is the first to arrive for practice and is the last one to leave. She’s been that way since her seventh-grade year.”
Freshmen dominated the event as seven of the top 12 finishers were rookies with Life Christian Academy freshman Gabby Martin winning the race in a time of 18:32.80.
Rainier’s Selena Niemi was also among that field of seven freshman. Niemi placed sixth overall, crossing the wire in 20:00.42.
“Selena has had a fantastic freshman season. I consider her a silent assassin. She is one of the nicest people you can meet and very quiet, however, she is also extremely competitive,” Henry said. “She will work on whatever she needs to do to get better. Her times are better than what Elaina ran at this age. Hopefully, she can be at Elaina’s level by the time she is a senior.”
Rainier junior Sophie Beadle will also be joining her teammates at the state meet after she posted an eighth-place finish (20:08.22).
“Sophie had a stress fracture last year which negatively affected her season. However, she has come back better than ever this year,” Henry said. “Sophie is one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around. Nothing fazes her and she just goes out and performs every week.”
Niemi and Beadle both posted PRs in the race as did teammates Nina Rostock (28th, 21:58.79) and Hazel Busic (31st, 22:04.44).
“Our top three runners did today what they’ve been doing all year,” Henry said, “however, what brought home the district trophy was our runners four through seven (Rostock, Busic, Nina Guizzetti and Alexis Diamond). Every one of those gals stepped up and competed today.”
Northwest Christian once against had a strong showing at the district championships with four Navigators placing among the top 25.
Senior Ava Shackell was the top Northwest Christian runner, finishing 13th with a time of 20:35.82. Tosin Faleke placed 14th (20:56.16), Jacalyn Tague was 21st (21:29.43) and Nina Fraser was 24th (21:34.35) for the Navigators.
Pope John Paul 2 freshman Clare Kondrat placed 12th in 20:30.78, while sophomore teammate Holley Nichols was 22nd in 21:31.55.
Northwest Christian Boys Capture District Title
The Northwest Christian boys cross country team successfully defended their district championship with four Navigators placing in the top 10.
Northwest Christian junior Noah Phillips was second overall, covering the distance in 15:40.48.
Defending 1B/2B state champion Austen Apperson of Adan won the race with a time of 15:11.34.
Northwest Christian also received strong performances from junior Cameron Nielsen (sixth, 16:18.06), junior Garrett McSheffrey (seventh, 16:33.04) and senior Hamilton Summers (10th, 16:40.03).
The Navigators finished with 42 points, beating runner-up Cedar Tree Classical Christian High School (124 points) by a wide margin.