The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

On to state! Goldendale boys, girls teams reach state in same season for first time in school history

 

November 1, 2017

Jaryd Cline

From left to right: Head coach Juli Rising, Abby Hedges, Jade Smith, Ellie Rising, Kimberly Chestnut, Savannah Ross, and assistant coach Randall Jones pose on the podium after finding out they qualified as a team for Saturday's state meet.

Before the first meet of this cross country season, Goldendale head coach Juli Rising knew both her boys and girls teams had the talent to advance to the state meet. She also expected it.

She set the team's goals high, and knew her runners – with a full season of training in her successful running program and two of the top runners in the state on each team – would be tough and ready come postseason time.

That's exactly what happened last Thursday on a warm sunny afternoon at the Apple Ridge course in Cowiche, where the girls team finished as South Central Athletic Conference runner-up, and the boys third, both reaching the state meet in the same season for the first time in Goldendale history.

That's right, all 12 Goldendale runners will be competing next weekend among the state's best, starting with the Class 1A girls race at 10:30 a.m. at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, with the boys shortly after at noon.

Senior Dillon Rising finished runner-up among boys, finishing the three-mile race in 15 minutes, 50.6 seconds while sophomore Ellie Rising was second overall among girls in 19:07.9.

To advance to state, the team as a whole had to finish in the top three or an individual had to place in the top 21 to earn a berth if their team didn't make it.

Juli's husband, Rob, kept track of the team of each individual runner as they crossed the finish line, giving them an idea of their team placed.

Rising already had a hunch that the girls made it before the officials announced it, but kept it from her team to enhance the excitement.

"I said 'Do not tell the girls. I want it to be a surprise for them,'" Rising said.

Waiting around after the meet, the officials began the awards ceremony, and announced the Royal Knights as the third place team on the girls' side. Thinking they had just missed finishing in the top three, the Timberwolves were ecstatic when it was announced Goldendale was the conference runner-up.

"But then when they said Goldendale second, the five girls were just in shock. Their mouths were dropped," Rising said.

The Goldendale girls compiled 68 team points, trailing just Zillah (41) and finishing ahead of Royal (77).

The boys placement, with Rising's second place finish along with amazing runs from junior Lucas Anderson and Sterling Beasley, was less suspenseful.

They finished third with 76 points, a big gap between them and fourth-place finishing College Place (108). The Connell Eagles and Zillah Leopards tied for first with 69 points, and a tiebreaker (time of sixth runner) gave the Leopards the team title.

Dillon Rising was still bothered with an iliotibial band issue that's been hampering him for the better part of the season. He still cruised to the finish, and has slowly been improving in health as he gets ready to compete in his last high school cross country meet.

Anderson was the second Timberwolf to finish, crossing the line in 16:13.6, a personal best time by three seconds on a three-mile course and close to 38 seconds faster than when he ran on the same course on Sept. 16.

After Anderson, sophomores Corbin Riley and Sterling Beasley finished back-to-back at 17 and 18 respectively, with a big-time personal best time from "Beastley," as it says on the back of one of his running shirts.

Around the midway point of the race, Juli Rising encouraged and pushed Riley, who continued to pick up his pace en route to finishing better than he ever has. Beasley stopped the timers at 17:08.1, a personal record by 38 seconds on a three-mile course.

"It was cool to see," Rising said. "Everything I said he just took it to heart and you could see his face getting focused and determined."

"It's been really fun with (Beasley) and seeing him improve," she added.

Riley, one spot ahead of Beasley, finished in 17:07.7. Sophomore Mark Blunt rounded out Goldendale's top five, taking 35th place in 18:02.6. Freshman Austin Williams, 55th in 18:55.5, and senior Ryan Kindler, 63rd in 19:37.6, also will be running with the team on Saturday at state.

Teams are allowed to take nine total runners to state, seven runners and two alternates, but there are just seven Goldendale boys and five Goldendale girls.

On the girls side, Ellie Rising led for the majority of the race before Zillah senior Kalen Johnson (18:27) passed her late for the district title.

Rising led Goldendale's super sophomores, who have a chance to be a force in the league in the coming years. All five of Goldendale's girl runners are sophomores.

Jaryd Cline

Goldendale sophomore Jade Smith stays ahead of a Naches' runner during last Thursday's district meet in Cowiche. Smith finished 13th overall and helped propel the Goldendale girls into the state meet.

"I think this trip to state will be a huge experience and if I can convince them to keep coming out ... and if they keep training without injuries, it's in the bag for them to be district champs next year if they keep working like they have been," Rising said. "It's pretty exciting to see a group of just five kids, all sophomores, take second place in the district."

After Rising's finish, Abby Hedges was the second Goldendale finisher and sixth overall in the field of 54 runners, finishing in 20:13.4.

Jade Smith, who had missed a handful of practices and a few meets battling an illness, pushed herself to a 13th place finish in 21:24.6, a clutch finish that helped punch the team's ticket to state.

"For her to get up there and run in 13th place – I'm pretty sure that's what clinched the girls getting in that second spot – is that she just ran beyond her ability and her training to help the team," Rising said.

Kimberly Chestnut, who ran at state last season with Stevenson, came in 25th overall in 22:20.2, and was followed by Savannah Ross, finishing at 29th in 22:51.

 

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