Hanging out at the Inland Empire Classic XC Meet

WIAA - Bless Their Little Hearts

The WIAA has seen fit to break apart middle school cross country squads, because their rules were built around the junior high concept. As a practical matter, that meant that we ended up with 7th-8th-grade runners, all young men, at the meet yesterday while the other nineteen runners took the day off.

Picture courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey.

Picture courtesy of Suzy Cowdrey.

As to why we had no girls, we ran into (again) the small school problem of facilities. Because we don't have adequate gym space for six basketball squads in the winter, the middle school plays b-ball in the fall. We see a goodly number migrate back once they reach high school and the schedule normalizes.

For those not familiar with the changes in the organizing structure of most schools, the old junior high system of 7th- through 9th-grade with single subject instruction (similar to high school) has been supplanted by the middle school system which incorporates 6th-through 8th-grades that focuses on team teaching. The WIAA, rather than revise the scope of activities they oversee to reflect the very real changes in school organization, created clunky rules that sometimes allow younger students to participate with their friends a year older. Mostly, though, the rules exclude student participation and split a third of a middle school team from the rest of the program. Foolish.

Inland Empire Classic Meet

LCSC Coach Mike Collins and all of his athletes that volunteer to work the event again put on a terrific meet. My four, all young men, ran a 3,000 meter course - the longest they'll face this year. All of them did well, with three of them PR'ing. More importantly, I loved the effort I saw from all of them.

I'm beginning to think that Mike Collins is an organizational genius. All the races started right on time and a total of 566 athletes raced the Lewis-Clark home course. The biggest race was the junior varsity men with 170 participants. Eleven middle school teams ran, from Waitsburg-Prescott from Washington to Timberline from Weippe. Twenty-eight high school teams made the trek, coming down from Spokane and Sandpoint, up from Grangeville, and over from Kennewick. The event continues to grow.

Koby Harris was the solitary runner for W-P and he joined our kids for the start, even doing a little final bit of warming up with them. He ended up right in the thick of things, a little ahead of one Asotin runner, a little behind another.

One point that I emphasized with the youngsters yesterday was the final kick. I made them two promises about that kick. First, it would hurt. Second, it wouldn't kill them. As they mature, I'm watching them accept that they can do more than they expected. Saw a lot of nice efforts at the end of the race. None of them died, so I didn't have to worry about having lied to them.

My coaching day finished at eleven, but I stuck around to play cheerleader. It's been a while since I yelled myself hoarse. Managed it while logging a pretty good fartlek workout, trying to get to the various points on the course. The way that Coach Collins laid it out makes the xc course very spectator-friendly.

During the women's varsity race, I got to encourage two freshman that I had last year. Carmen Eggleston and Maia Dykstra are off to nice starts for the their high school careers. The best race of the day for the Asotin women got turned in by Maria Eggleston, the only Eggleston girl that I didn't have the privilege of coaching. Maria just kept moving steadily through the pack to eventually finish with another PR. I'm not sure she realizes it, but she's run three different distances so far this year and PR'd at each one.

Kat Stephenson is another lady PR-ing every race right now and took third. Christina Vantrease scored in the fifth spot.

The best moment of the meet, from a coach and dad's perspective, was watching Adrienne Washington of Asotin fighting her way to the finish line and getting a huge hug from Maria. The young lady is running with a tweaked ankle from last week's meet and a broken wrist that she's dealt with all season. She's a gutsy kid, but she's digging deep into her reserves. Maria saw it, I think intuitively, and reacted. The folks of both have reason to be proud.

The men's race watched locals grab the top four spots, with Lewiston's Austin Byrer and Joey Perez taking first and fourth, Thomas Weakland of Asotin taking second, and Logo's Josiah Anderson snagging third with a nice tactical run. Eli Engledow and Thomas Martin, both freshman, seem to be getting the hang of the running thing. Nate Prior and Zack Sokoloski continue to improve.

I think the chip timing got a mite goofy as it has Samantha Nicholas running in the men's race - pretty sure I saw her in the women's race. When the final results go out, Asotin will drop one place as the inadvertent chip-reading gets removed.

The inland Pacific Northwest has some excellent high school running right now, men and women, much of it on display yesterday. Now, on to Tuesday when the sixth-graders get to show their chops.

Adding to my schedule - I'm doing a book reading in Spokane at Auntie's Bookstore for those that can make it. That's Friday, October 9th at 7:00PM. The next day, I'm going to be selling and signing books at the Spokane Marathon packet pickup.