Sports

Both Islander cross country teams qualify for state meet, first time since 2001

For the first time since 2001, both the boys and girls cross country teams will compete at the state meet thanks to strong finishes at districts on Thursday at Lower Woodland Park. The girls team finished second to Seattle Prep (34) with a team score of 69 placing-points, while the boys placed third behind the Prep Panthers (43) and Bellevue (66) with 84 placing-points.

"It was not our overall best day; we ran a little tight," said Mercer Island coach Erica Hill. "Coming off the excitement of last week, I think they felt a little pressure. But the most important thing is that we put the 'X' in that box and we are moving on."

Islander freshman Lindsay Benster continues to finish well above her experience level, placing second out of the 87 runners who competed during districts. Benster finished with a time of 18:52. Phoebe Merritt also ran a strong race, finishing sixth overall with a time of 19:26.

"We haven't seen [Prep] this year, so it was a good learning experience for the girls," said Hill. "They got to see their racing techniques."

The Panthers finished with three girls in the top 10.

"They are clearly the team to beat at state this year," said Hill.

Gabi Goyette was the next Islander to cross the finish line, finishing in 18th overall with a time of 20:09. Haley Piper finished 11 seconds later in 22nd place, while Molly O'Callahan placed 27th with a time of 20:37.

Islander Lauren Sadler placed 39th overall (21:13), while teammate Lauren Davis was 43rd (21:16).

The boys team scored their points by placing four runners in the top 20.

"It has been one of our goals this season to get both teams to state, so it is really exciting," said Hill. "This team has really bonded, so it will be so much more fun to have both teams competing at state."

The boys race featured 90 runners overall. KingCo champion Evan Sadler finished the race eight seconds slower than the previous week but still finished fifth overall and as the top KingCo runner at districts with a time of 16:07.

Aaron Elefson placed 13th overall during the district meet with a time of 16:25, just ahead of teammate Quinn Chasan, who placed 16th with a time of 16:33. Tyler Benster was on Chasan's heels, literally, placing one second back in 17th place.

Islander James Kashima placed 13th (17:14), while teammate Leo Phillips was 47th (17:32). Five second later, Islander Eric Bauer crossed the finish line, placing 49th overall.

The boys' best finish at state is seventh overall. Both teams will try to place in the top four and bring home a trophy this Saturday in Pasco, Wash.

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