Pair of Islanders notch state cross country crowns

Owen Powell and Sophia Rodriguez win big at Sun Willows.

Mercer Island High School’s Owen Powell and Sophia Rodriguez ruled the top of the 3A state cross country standings on Nov. 4 after tackling the 5K uphill, downhill and looping terrain of the partially muddy Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

Junior Powell finished first in the boys race with a time of 15:19.20, and freshman Rodriguez notched a mark of 17:21.90 to lead the girls’ pack. Powell finished ahead of second-place junior Vincent Recupero of Bishop Blanchet (15:27.70), and Rodriguez’s junior sister Victoria placed second in 17:36.50.

Mercer Island’s girls placed seventh in the team standings and the local boys took eighth.

Also medaling for the boys were sophomore Bodie Thomas (10th in 15:58.90) and sophomore Matthew Lawrence (12th in 16:08.50).

“Going 1-2 with my sister behind me was amazing, so I gave her a big hug at the finish,” said Sophia, noting that the teams’ low-intensity shakeout run on the course the day before helped them envision what they would expect to face come race day.

Sophia was pleased that she executed her race plan well and hit the finish line in first.

“My plan was really just to chill out the first mile and let them go out and then keep on working my way up until I caught them and then putting the hammer down from there and going to the finish,” Sophia said. “It was really special — a state title is once in a lifetime.”

Powell nailed down his first state cross country title to accompany his 1,600-meter state crown to close out track season last May.

At Sun Willows, runners profoundly picked up the pace after two miles and Powell and Recupero battled neck and neck for a spell before the Islander burst into the lead with about 300 yards remaining and out-kicked his opponent en route to the finish line.

“It was pretty exciting. It all coming down to all that was a little scary, a little nerve-racking. In the end, I was pretty confident in my ability and ended up closing pretty well that day and was really happy about how I did,” said Powell, who was disappointed with his 18th-place finish last year and was hungry to propel himself into the top three or higher this time out.

That positive mindset worked in his favor and Powell and his teammates also gained inspiration and confidence from watching the girls team rip up the course before the boys stepped up to the starting line for their race.


* On the volleyball front, Mercer Island advanced to the 3A District 2 tournament with a third-place finish at the 3A KingCo tournament. The locals will commence districts against Garfield at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Lakeside School in Seattle.

At KingCo, Mercer Island went 2-1 with wins over Hazen (3-0) and Bellevue (3-1) and notched the league sportsmanship award. Senior outside hitter/middle blocker Logan Remington received first-team all-league honors; senior setter Melena Wong is a second-teamer; and senior libero Aditi Manny and junior right side Nora Prophater are honorable mentions.

* The Mercer Island boys water polo squad notched a pair of recent wins over Interlake (20-11) and Bellevue (12-4) and will next compete in the state tournament on Nov. 9-11 at Curtis Aquatic Center.

* Kennewick defeated Mercer Island, 38-0, in the football 3A district playoffs on Nov. 4 at Lampson Stadium to end the Islanders’ season.

MIHS medal winners are, from left to right, Owen Powell, Matthew Lawrence, Victoria Rodriguez, Bodie Thomas and Sophia Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Aaron Koopman

MIHS medal winners are, from left to right, Owen Powell, Matthew Lawrence, Victoria Rodriguez, Bodie Thomas and Sophia Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Aaron Koopman