Wednesday, June 28, 2017 This Week's Paper

Tarriers cruise to Nisqually title

// Deep squad eyeing state championship

Charles Wright has had a strong history of having individual runners place well at the state cross country meet, which has enabled them to consistently place in the top five as a team. But this year, with a huge crop of talented runners, the Tarriers are aiming for even higher goals after finishing fourth at the state meet last year. “We’ve never been this deep before,” said head coach Ryan Johnson, noting the veteran leadership along with the growth of some young runners. “It’s a team sport…and we’re deep back through 10, 11 or 12 (runners), which for 1A is pretty impressive. “We’re just really hoping this is the year that we can get first (at state).” The Tarriers, ranked first in the state in 1A, continued their solid season by placing five runners in the top 10 in coasting to the title at the Nisqually League Championships at Fort Steilacoom Park on Oct. 18. Led by the senior trio of Travis Hensley, Ruben Riordan and David Goldstone – who finished first through third, respectively – Charles Wright easily topped second-place finisher Bellevue Christian.

“It’s really good that we know the course very well,” said Hensley, who clocked in at 16 minutes and 12.52 seconds. “I’m lucky to have (David and Ruben) because they’ve been running a long time and have a lot of experience they can share as far as evaluating a course, when you’re going to go hard up a hill and what you’re going to do out there.” Riordan finished just under six seconds behind Hensley, while Goldstone finished in a season-best 16 minutes and 22.98 seconds. Sophomore Adam Emerick placed sixth, junior Rory Reschovsky was eighth and senior Dylan Harper was 12th, while Jack Dimmer, Kaden Hurst and Drake Burnbaum all finished in the top 20 for the Tarriers. “I love how great we’re working together this year,” said Riordan. “We’re always motivating each other. We have just the right balance of team competition and cohesiveness.”

While Riordan and Goldstone have been elite talents for years, as they finished second and third respectively at the state meet last year, the gap between them and the next-best Tarrier runners has narrowed considerably. “We’ve had the opportunity to win state for several years now, and we’ve just never had quite the team to do it,” Goldstone said. “This year the guys have really stepped up. We’ve been injury free, and the guys have really been motivated to go out and clinch that championship.” Of course, the opportunity for greatness did not come without sacrifice, including vigorous spring and summer training and camp attendance.

“It’s taken a ton of hard work,” said Harper. “Part of it has been easy, because on those really rainy days knowing that my team’s out there training, I know we’re all in it together.” But with the talented competitors out there this year – including perennial power and defending state champ Lakeside of Spokane – the Tarriers do not want to jump ahead of themselves. “There’s a lot of great competition out there,” said Johnson, spouting off several other squads in addition to Lakeside, who has been a thorn in the Tarriers’ side for several seasons. “We’re going to face off with these eastside teams.” The state cross country meets are set for Nov. 3 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.