The Bellarmine Prep girls cross country team has eyes toward a state title again, after finishing third place at the state meet last year. The Lions took their first step in the postseason on Oct. 23, as five runners placed in the top ten finishers to boost them to the Narrows 4A title at Fort Steilacoom Park.
“We ran well as a team,” said Bellarmine Prep girls coach Matt Ellis. “We were a little tentative up front at first, but they worked great over the middle part of the course. We’ve still got a few things to work on in the next few weeks.”
Sophomore Emily Thomas led the pack of finishers for the Lions, taking fourth place in a time of 18 minutes and 56.20 seconds. Junior Miranda Ross crossed the finish line six seconds later to take fifth place, while junior Laura Staeheli and seniors Jordan Thurston and Hannah Derby took seventh through ninth, respectively. But the gap between the Lions’ top five finishers was minimal, as Derby finished just over 19 seconds behind Thomas.
“We’re all very close (normally),” Thomas said. “It’s not really anything different. We help each other.”
But Thomas – who spent a couple months in Spain leading up to the fall – has been a big boost to the Lions, as she has been Bellarmine’s top finisher in four 5,000-meter races this season.
“She put in a solid summer, and showed up in great shape,” Ellis said. “It’s really made a big difference. You can tell she just loves to run.”
Central Kitsap’s Rose Christen won the individual title in the girls race, finishing in just over 18 minutes.
Senior Quentin Purtzer helped the Lions’ boys take second as a team by finishing in a personal-best 15 minutes and 44.39 seconds, good for sixth place individually.
“My strategy is don’t kill myself on the hills,” Purtzer said. “There are big downhills following (the hills). So I let it loose a little bit on the downhills. Kids were passing me on the uphills, and I came around no the downhills and caught them all back. It was a good race for me.”
Purtzer was followed closely by sophomore Jack Yearian, who took seventh in 15 minutes and 45.69 seconds. Junior Will Sherman placed 11th for the Lions, while junior Jack Metcalfe finished 19th and freshman Max Hilger placed 22nd to round out Bellarmine’s top five.
Gig Harbor ran away with the team title, as the Tides claimed the top four individual spots. Senior Wolfgang Beck was the top overall finisher with a time of 15 minutes and 6.75 seconds.
“They’re studs,” said Purtzer of Gig Harbor. “I’ve been running with them since freshman year…It’s definitely a competition to see if I can hang around with them.”
The Westside Classic district cross country meet was set to take place at American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood on Nov. 2, with the 4A boys running at 1:40 p.m. and the 4A girls running at 2:40 p.m.