Sports

Wolves optimistic despite disappointing start

The reoccurring flu symptoms that plagued him during track season were gone, but not everything felt right for South Kitsap junior Jon Phillips.

That meant a sixth-place finish in the 2-mile event at 10 minutes, 23.78 seconds Wednesday in a five-team Narrows League cross-country meet at Cedar Heights Junior High, which left the Wolves in fourth place with 91 points.

Gig Harbor won the boys meet with 31 points, followed by North Kitsap (68), Central Kitsap (84) and Olympia (97).

“Not even halfway through the race my form was falling apart,” Phillips said.

Even though the Wolves only placed one other runner, sophomore Jeffrey Robinson (10:53.68, 15th place), in the top 15 finishers, Phillips sees some positives for the boys team.

He noted that Kyle Stolp, who has been out with a stomach parasite, usually is the team’s No. 2 runner.

Coach Paul Zimmer, who offered no timeline on Stolp’s return, agreed.

“I think by the end our boys want to be a state-competitive team,” he said. “I think there’s the talent and drive in the boys to do that.”

And confidence isn’t an issue, either.

“If I work on my form, conditioning and breathing, I’ll have a shot to place at state,” Robinson said.

The girls team appears to have more concerns. Only one South competitor, senior Britta Peterson (13:28.04, 18th), placed in the top 20. South finished last among the five teams with 130 points. Gig Harbor won with 24 points, followed by North (58), Olympia (66) and Central (108).

“I don’t feel like I’m doing very well,” Peterson said. “We haven’t done any 5-kilometer runs yet, so I hope to do better.”

Zimmer said that shouldn’t be a problem as Peterson is more of an endurance runner.

“The longer the better for her,” he said.

The first 5-kilometer meet is at 10 a.m. Saturday in the New Balance Invitational in Portland, Ore. But even the distance change might not be enough to compensate for the Wolves’ lack of experience. South graduated Shannon Polley and Marie Spiker from last year’s team.

Zimmer said he likes the progress junior Brianna Gundrum (14:19.07, 33rd) has made and also is excited about freshman Leandra Shod (14:37.73, 40th), the Wolves’ No. 3 runner.

One problem for both teams is depth. Zimmer said the girls team has 18 competitors, while the boys have 20.

“We probably raced three of the biggest teams in the league,” said Zimmer, referring to Gig Harbor, North and Olympia. “They all have roughly 60. They’re all pretty big.”

Zimmer said he thinks South has trouble attracting cross-country participants because “part of it is there are a lot of opportunities for kids at South.”

Despite that, both teams feel they can be competitive.

“We have some work to do, but I think we’ll be OK,” Gundrum said.

SCHEDULE

Sept. 8 Bellarmine Invitational at Bellarmine Prep, 10

a.m.

Sept. 12 Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor, North Kitsap,

South Kitsap at Cedar Heights Junior High, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 15 New Balance Invitational in Portland, Ore., 9

a.m.

Sept. 19 Bellarmine Prep, Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor,

South Kitsap at Bellarmine Prep, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 22 Wolf Classic at Cedar Height Junior High, 9

a.m.

Sept. 26 Central Kitsap, Foss, North Kitsap, Olympia,

South Kitsap, Wilson at LBA Park in Olympia, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 29 Sunfair Invitational in Yakima, 9 a.m.

Oct. 3 Gig Harbor, North Kitsap, South Kitsap at Cedar

Height Junior High, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 9 Bellarmine Prep, Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor,

North Kitsap, Olympia, South Kitsap at Fort Steilacoom

Park, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 17 Narrows League Meet at Fort Steilacoom Park,

2:30 p.m.

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