Sports

Cross Country: Peterson places third at Narrows League meet

Autumn always has been about racing.

But for South Kitsap sophomore Jessica Peterson, it typically has come in the pool rather than on land.

Peterson decided to try track last spring, though. She broke the school record in the 800 meters at Cedar Heights and then was convinced during the summer to forego swimming for cross country.

“I decided to try something new,” Peterson said. “I’ve been swimming since I was 8.”

Initially pegged as a top-five girls runner for the Wolves by coach Paul Zimmer, Peterson has progressed to the No. 1 position. She showed it again Wednesday when she placed third in the girls race of the 5-kilometer Narrows League cross-country championships at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood.

Official results were not available at press time because of equipment issues, but South’s boys and girls teams both were among the top four teams in Class 4A Narrows, which means each squad advances to the Oct. 30 Westside Cross Country Classic at American Lake Veterans Golf Course in Lakewood.

“I can’t be more pleased,” Zimmer said.

Peterson said she was ranked fifth entering the race. She said she was pleased with her result — the top 20 placers automatically qualify for the Westside meet — but Peterson’s expectations are higher.

“I’m shooting for state,” she said.

Other top-20 finishers on the girls team include juniors Molly Wheeler and Amanda Wilson and sophomore Keegan Tasker.

One advantage of taking an entire team to Westside is that those who did not finish in the top 20 at the league meet still can advance to state. Zimmer used sophomore Claire Polley as an example. He said Polley was sick throughout the week, but is hopeful that she can get healthy in time for Westside.

On the boys side, junior Dan Schulte was the top placer. He said he finished 18th.

“I was a little bit surprised,” Schulte said. “I didn’t think I was going to do that great.”

Schulte said he is excited to return to Westside after he finished 122nd in 19 minutes, 6.3 seconds a year ago. He said he became ill the night before that event.

The boys team is less experienced than their female counterparts, but senior Cody Pace will return to Westside after placing 111th in 18:24.7 last year. Zimmer felt Pace ran well in the Narrows meet.

“It’s kind of been what we’ve been hoping from for Cody all year,” he said. “That’s the kind of performance he should have.”

One of the younger runners who will compete at Westside for the first time is sophomore LaForrest Church. Zimmer felt Church looked nervous at Fort Steilacoom.

“I expect him to bounce back,” he said. “He’s really talented.”

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