KELSO – The two winners of Thursday’s 3A district cross country meet took two different approaches, but both came away with the same result.
Evergreen freshman Claire Rogge led from start to finish to post a 40-second win in the girls event, finishing in a personal-best of 18:59 for the 2.95-mile course at Kelso High School.
“I considered the possibility (of running on her own),” Rogge said. “When I was visualizing the race, I was just thinking that it doesn’t matter if someone is with you or not. You just have to go and race yourself, regardless of who’s around you.”
Mountain View senior Branden Chou, on the other hand, let other runners set the early pace before turning it on in the second half to win in 16:01, 32 seconds ahead of runner-up, Prairie’s Logan Bigelow.
“I’ve been doing that for most of the season,” Chou said. “I knew (Bigelow) was going to be my biggest competitor, so I let him lead. Once we got back on the dike, he pushed the pace and I went with him.”
In the final mile, Chou went past Bigelow, then kept stretching his lead.
The race was emblematic of Chou’s senior season, a slow start and then a big finish.
“The beginning of the season was just not my season,” Chou said. “I didn’t get any summer training in because I hurt my foot. It was a really big bummer. But I pushed through it and got the district title.”
After Bigelow at 16:33 was Prairie teammate Ethan Pedersen at 16:44.
Even though they did not have a runner in the top 5, the Kelso Hilanders raced to the boys team title, outdistancing Prairie 43-54. Led by Norman Hartman in 16:55, Kelso had six runners finish between sixth and 12th place.
On the girls side, another freshman, Mountain View’s Phebe Wilson was second in 19:39. Annie Anderson, last season’s district champion, placed third in 19:44, leading Prairie to the team title over Kelso 40-56.
Now runners will move on to the 3A bi-district meet in Tacoma next week.
Chou is looking forward to running in a big pack of runners, while Rogge is just looking forward to the experience. Rogge got the chance to tag along with her mother, Evergreen cross country coach Annie Christie, to previous bi-district meets.
“I remember watching them thinking about getting that opportunity to run there, and it’s so rewarding knowing that I will get that chance now,” Rogge said.
Fort, River win 2A GSHL cross country titles
The Fort Vancouver girls and Columbia River boys earned team titles at the 2A Greater St Helens League cross country championships at Lake Sacajawea Park in Longview.
Led by Dani Buttrell’s second-place finish, the Trappers edged Washougalby nine points in the team race with 40 points. Washougal’s Elle Thomas won the individual title.
Daniel Barna was the boys champion, leading the Rapids to the team title. The Rapids finished with 60 points, 10 better than second-place Ridgefield.
Washougal’s Samuel Grice placed second.
Individual times were not available.