The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Goldendale girls win cross country district title, boys to join them at Saturday's state meet


October 31, 2018

Jaryd Cline

The Goldendale girls team of, from left, assistant coach Randall Jones, Abby Hedges, Ellie Rising, Jade Smith, Kimberly Chestnut, Savannah Ross, and head coach Juli Rising, pose for a picture shortly after the girls three-mile race ended.

Last season, the Goldendale boys and girls cross country made school history, both advancing to the state meet for the first time in the same year.

After strong runs from both the boys and girls teams during last Thursday's District Meet in Cowiche, both teams will be back at state for the second straight season.

That's not the only history that was made last week at the Apple Ridge Course in Highland. Led by the individual district title from Ellie Rising, the four other Goldendale girls dubbed the Fab Five turned in impressive runs and helped the team capture Goldendale's first girls cross country district title.

"Our goal all year has been to win districts so we've been working really hard," junior Jade Smith said.

The girls, led by the top finish from Rising, a fourth place mark from Abby Hedges, a sixth place finish from Kimberly Chestnut, a 10th place showing from Smith, and an 18th place finish from Savannah Ross, saw their months of hard work pay off in a matter of minutes as they took the podium as the top squad in the 12-team South Central Athletic Conference.

With 35 cumulative team points, the girls held off Royal's 50 and crushed the rest of the competition as the Wolves and Knights were the only two schools to finish with less than 100 points.

With the top finish, the team qualified for the second straight year to this weekend's state meet in Pasco, which kicks off with the 1B/2B girls race at 10 a.m.

The district champion girls will also be joined at state by the Goldendale boys, whose 110 points was just enough to secure third place and a state bid after holding off fourth place Wahluke (111) by just one point and fifth place Royal (112) by two points.

Unsure if they had made the cut, head coach Juli Rising and all the Goldendale fans and athletes were stunned upon hearing the team announced as the third place finishers, taking the third and final SCAC state bid.

"My jaw dropped," Rising said. "I was shocked the boys made it. For us to still finish in third, the other boys really stepped up.

With a few runners recovering from illnesses, Goldendale got big contributions from junior Sterling Beasley, who was the first Goldendale boy to finish the three-mile race, sophomore Austin Williams, and freshman Alden Williams, who both set new personal record times and helped the team grab the state bid by just one point.

"It was pretty amazing," Rising added. "I've never seen anything that close."

All 11 Goldendale runners season continued for another week and some will run at the state meet for the third-consecutive season. For the girls, not just making state, but winning districts, has been on their minds for longer than just this season.

"All year that's been their goal," Rising said. "Even since the end of last year."

Knowing they could have a special situation with a strong group of five runners who all are part of the class of 2020, the girls stuck it out, dominated in every league meet this season, and capped the year with the district title.

"It's exhausting but it's amazing at the same time," Ross said shortly after the run. "You put in these months of work and it just pays off at the end ... and it's like a rainbow at the finish."

Ross, the team's fifth runner, had by far her best run in her career. She finished the three-mile race last Thursday in 21 minutes, 48.7 seconds for 18th place among the field of 51 runners.

"Even more amazing though, she hasn't been running to her full potential," Rising said. "There was enough on the line that she was able to make the jump."

Her previous best time on a three-mile course came last year at the Apple Ridge course, but was able to cut nearly a minute from that time on Thursday.

Joining the record-breaking day with Ross was Smith, who finished 10th with a new personal record time of 20:59.5, and Chestnut, also setting a personal record (20:21.2) while finishing sixth.

Hedges ran faster than she has all season on the smaller than usual three-mile course with a season-best 19:58.1 time for fourth, while Ellie Rising led the race from start to finish and stopped the timers at 19:07.9.

Winning the district title is no small feat, especially with the size of the Goldendale girls team.

"Especially with five girls," Juli Rising said. "We get to these meets and here's our little Fab Five. And to see them go out and win the whole thing, it's a testament to how hard they worked."

"The other nice thing about having a team is when you have a team it's easier to make it," Ellie Rising said. "You have people around you that are supporting you and going through it with you and when you're out by yourself it's not really fun at all."

"It's amazing to have all of us here because if one of us got sick or if one of us left for one meet we wouldn't have a team," Chestnut said.

"We kind of run for each other," Hedges added.

Juli Rising boarded the bus for the trip home to the team blasting Queen's "We Are The Champions," as everyone on the team celebrated, knowing that the season for all 11 boys and girls runners would continue for another week.

"I've never seen them so excited," Rising said.


Beasley led all Goldendale runners in the boys race, slicing his fastest time on the course down by close to 40 seconds. He's come a long way since the state meet the previous year, where he was the last finisher in the 129-person race.

"To go from that (last at state) to ninth place at districts ... It's just a testament to his hard work," Rising said.

Senior Lucas Anderson, who's been battling and was affected by an illness last week, followed Beasley for the Wolves. The lone senior on Goldendale this season saw his time dip a bit, but still had a strong 16th place finish with a 16:43.4 time, about 30 seconds off of his district time last season.

Junior Corbin Riley posted a new personal record with his 22nd place finish in 16:51.7 and will run at state for the third straight season this weekend while both Alden and Austin Williams, and first year runner Mason Conroy also will make the trip to Pasco to run among the state's best.

Austin finished with a personal record 17:34.3 time for 30th place while Alden finished a few spots later at 41st, also setting a new personal best with his 17:57.5 mark. Conroy came in at No. 54 among the field of 75 boys runners, also finishing with a new personal record after running the course in 19:00.7.


Both teams will be in Pasco this weekend for the huge state meet, which features all school sizes and classes.

Jaryd Cline

Junior Sterling Beasley makes his way up the hill during last Thursday's South Central Athletic Conference District Meet while senior Lucas Anderson follows right behind.

The girls are up first, with the 1A race starting at 10:30 a.m. with the 1A boys race following at noon.

The girls team has come close before but this is the first year they've hoisted the district crown. The team took second last year at districts and also finished as the runners-up in 1988, although there may have been other years that I'm unaware of. If you know of any other successful girls cross country seasons, email or call The Sentinel.

Juli Rising and the rest of the cross country program also like to thank the Klickitat County Fair Board, Windy Flats partners, and the Goldendale Golf Club for helping the team throughout the season.

"They made a big difference in our season," Rising said. "We could do some things that we can't usually do (because of the support.)"


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