South Kitsap takes ninth at state championship meet

Running with nothing to lose, a young South Kitsap High School girls cross country squad captured ninth place at the 4A state championship meet in Pasco Saturday.

Made up of mostly underclassmen, the SK team matched the team’s ninth-place finish from a year ago.

While last year’s finish was a disappointment for a senior-laden team that had hopes of competing for a title, this year’s finish tasted extra sweet for a band of runners that weren’t even expected to advance to state.

After the Wolves placed third at the West Central District meet, SK coach Ed Santos said his girls had made giant strides from the the beginning of the season towards the end of the season.

SK junior Kayle Peterson came in 44th place (20:02) to lead SK.

Sophomore Danielle Friend followed in 50th place (20:11).

Kindel Stepper, one of only two seniors on the team, concluded her prep cross country career with a 60th-place finish (20:20).

Rounding out the scoring was sophomore Eileen Morley (79, 20:48), sophomore Lynette Millard (102, 21:23), freshman Ashley Nigbor (144, 23:28), and senior Jody Guariz (148, 24:32) — who ran despite being overcome by sickness.

Peterson said the team goal was to place in the top 10, but admits they could have aimed higher.

“I’m pretty happy with how we did,” Peterson said. “We lost like eight seniors last year, but I think we could have done better.”

Peterson said she is more than pleased with the team’s ability to improve to the point that it even shocks Santos.

“Even Santos didn’t think we’d be this good,” Peterson said.

The cross-country season is now over, but Peterson said the running continues.

“Now we start training for track,” Peterson said. “Santos wants us to take a week off, but we don’t even want to do that. No one wants to stop running.”

As for the prospects of next year’s cross-country team, Peterson said a top five finish is not out of the question.

“A lot of other teams are losing their top runners,” she said. “Umm, I think we can place in the top five.”

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