WOODLAND — Hockinson junior Allyson Peterson finished second twice at the District IV cross country championships. This was finally her time to shine.
With decorated Washougal runner Amelia Pullen graduated and now at Warner Pacific University, Peterson ran nearly a minute faster than she did in years past to win the 2A District Championship girls race Thursday at Lewis River Golf Course. Her time of 18 minutes, 50 seconds was much improved on her times of 19:43 and 19:41 in her freshman and sophomore seasons at districts. Thursday, it was 26 seconds better than second-place finisher Olivia Bailon, of Tumwater.
“I loved running against Amelia but this is my first district title. It means a lot,” Peterson said. “I was really glad to bring it home.”
She also led the Hawks to their second straight team district title, as Maddy Ritter (20:47), Taylor Kopp (21:24) and Jordyn Gutridge (21:29) also clocked top-10 times.
“When track season ended, we thought we would have two girls,” Peterson said. “Going from two girls to winning districts is just amazing. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Peterson’s attention turns toward the state championships on Nov. 9 in Pasco, where she has a difficult task ahead to cash in on a friendly wager with her mother. If Peterson finishes in the top three — she placed eighth last season — the Hawks junior won’t have to wear heels to prom.
“It’s going to be hard, but not impossible,” Peterson said.
Rowley’s hard work pays off
Columbia River senior Aidan Rowley used to be a tennis player. He’d played the sport since he was a toddler, but was faced with a tough decision two years ago. Rowley fell in love with running. In order to be great at it, he needed to quit tennis. So his junior year, Rowley joined the Chieftain cross country team. Two years later, he’s a district champion. Rowley finished the 5,000-meter course in 16:12 to edge out Tumwater’s Josh Newman (16:19).
“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had,” Rowley said. “I feel like (running is) such a raw sport. It’s truly what you put in is what you get out. There’s no shortcuts.”
In Rowley’s words, he wanted to be great. He rarely missed a training day all summer, eyeing this district title in his second and final attempt at it.
“I was super worried at the end,” Rowley said. “It looked like I had a strong kick, but I was so worried. … Today I just found it and everything went to plan.”
On the back of Rowley, the Chieftains mustered enough points to take home the team title as well. Daniel Barna (16:42), Andrew Douglas (17:01) and Nathan Gassaway (17:08) were all top-20 finishers for the Chieftains, who topped Tumwater and Ridgefield in the team race.
In the 2A boys, the top four teams and any runner in the top 28 qualify for the 2A race in Pasco. Columbia River, Tumwater, Ridgefield and Washougal will send all seven of their runners to state for their team finishes.
Also qualifying in the 2A boys include Hockinson’s Joshua Saeman and Trevan Bischoff, Woodland’s Parker Owen and Joran Lamoreaux, and R.A. Long’s James Genero IV and Zach Hayden.
The top three teams and 21 runners qualify in the 2A girls race. Hockinson, Tumwater and Washougal all qualified as teams from Thursday’s race. Individual qualifiers include Columbia River’s Hanna Bailey and Nolin Darling, R.A. Long’s Miranda Lomax and Kailey Beaudoin, and Ridgefield’s Jane Kuebrich, Grace Goode, Shelby Fisher and Ariel Griffith.