BATTLE GROUND — Sean Eustis had a plan Saturday at the Class 2A district cross country championship at Lewisville Park.
Of course, that plan did not include Eustis sprinting for his life at the finish line.
But that’s what it came down to as the Washougal junior outkicked Aberdeen’s Poli Baltazar to win the boys district title in 15 minutes, 42 seconds.
“I really thought (Baltazar) went out too fast through the first two miles,” Eustis said. “I thought he was going to die at the end, but he didn’t. I kept telling myself ‘I’m going to win this. I’m going to win this.’ But to tell the truth, with 200 meters to go, I thought I might lose it.”
That’s when Eustis, a state qualifier in the 800 meters last spring in track and field, sprinted past Baltazar for a two-second win.
“Sean was supposed to be just two yards behind Baltazar with 200 meters to go, not five,” Washougal coach Terry Howard said. “But there aren’t many kids in the state that Sean can’t outkick.”
Eustis said the original plan was to go out in a controlled pace with his teammate Isaac Stinchfield, then work with each other to take control of the race. But Baltazar’s fast pace forced Eustis to adjust the plan.
By the mile 2, Baltazar and Eustis broke away from Stinchfield, who finished third in 16:02. But Eustis still credited his teammate with helping him win the district meet.
“I would not be where I am right now without Isaac,” Eustis said. “He’s the best training partner you could ask for. He’s like my brother. We work out together. We hang out together, have classes together. On the course and off the course, we have a special bond that helps both us run our best.”
Despite having runners finish first and third, the Washougal boys were not able to secure a team berth to state, placing fifth.
The quick pace of the girls 2A race also caught Hockinson’s Chantalle Blundell by surprise. But unlike Eustis, Blundell was unable to keep up the pace at the end.
Blundell battled Mark Morris’ Melissa Starr and Aberdeen’s Hailey Gibson down to the final 500 meters, when Starr broke free and won in 19:13. Blundell, who beat Starr by 31 seconds at last week’s 2A Greater St. Helens League meet, finished third in 19:28.
“It just wasn’t my day,” Blundell said. “They were running a fast race, and did a great job. When they broke there at the end, I just didn’t have it. But there’s another meet next week at state, and I’ll just look forward to running better there.”
The state cross country championships are Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
The Hockinson girls, led by Blundell and Jadyn Gourley’s fourth-place finish, advanced to state as team by placing second to Mark Morris.
The La Center girls also had a second-place finish in the 1A race, losing to Montesano by a single point 64-65.
Freshman Katie Whitten led the Wildcats by finishing third in 20:13.
The La Center boys advanced to state with a third-place finish behind Jordan Bigler (fourth, 16:50) and Kyle DeGraaff (fifth, 16:53).
Evan Simms placed fifth (17:25) to lead the Seton Catholic boys to a third-place finish in the 2B/1B meet, sending the Cougars to state.