Port Angeles’ Leia Larson, Faerin Tate and Miriam Cobb jump over the hay bales at the start of the 45th annual Salt Creek Invitational at Salt Creek County Park on Saturday. Larson and Cobb both finished in the to 10 while all three Roughriders finished in the top 20. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles’ Leia Larson, Faerin Tate and Miriam Cobb jump over the hay bales at the start of the 45th annual Salt Creek Invitational at Salt Creek County Park on Saturday. Larson and Cobb both finished in the to 10 while all three Roughriders finished in the top 20. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)

CROSS COUNTRY: Sequim, Port Angeles runners shine at Salt Creek

Wolves’ Ellefson wins; Bloomenrader, Hulstedt in top 3

SALT CREEK — With fog hanging over the water and the treetops keeping the day cool, it was a grand day for Sequim runners in particular at the 45th annual Salt Creek Invitational held at Salt Creek County Park on Saturday.

Smoke from the Olympic National Park fires blew east of Salt Creek, giving runners fresh air to run in.

The Wolves’ Colby Ellefson won the boys’ three-mile race in an outstanding time of 16 minutes, 3.2 seconds, beating second-place runner Samuel Bonsell of Olympic by 19 seconds.

“I was looking at Athletic.net and the other runners’ times and I thought I had a shot [of winning],” Ellefson said.

The Sequim and Port Angeles girls had a great race. The girls race was dominated by Natalie Gathout of Klahowya, who won by more than two minutes with a time of 18:22.0. Gathout finished third in the state 1A championships last fall and her time at Salt Creek would likely be a sub-19 minute time in the 5K and would put her in the top three in the state.

Meanwhile, coming in a solid second place was Kaitlyn Bloomenrader of Sequim in a time of 20:30.2, followed by her teammate Dawn Hulstedt with a time of 20:48.1.

Colby Ellefson, Sequim cross country.

Colby Ellefson, Sequim cross country.

Bloomenrader is a veteran for the Wolves and was part of a state and Nike nationals gold-medal winning 4×400 Sequim track team in 2022.

Bloomenrader said she was in a traffic accident two days earlier and her and her coaches weren’t sure if she was going to be able to run at Salt Creek.

“I feel OK. Since I’m a senior, I want to get in as many races as I can,” Bloomenrader said. “I thought I would just cruise it, then it became little more than a cruise.”

Hulstedt, meanwhile, ran in her first varsity cross-country meet for the Wolves. “She was right behind me, I’m pretty excited for her,” Bloomenrader said.

Port Angeles also had a good meet with Leia Larson leading the Roughriders by finishing fifth with a time of 20:53.6. Her teammate Miriam Cobb, a freshman running in her first varsity cross-country meet, finished seventh with a time of 21:04.4.

Larson is one of the returning leaders for the Riders and also a veteran of 5K and 10K races all around the Olympic Peninsula, usually finishing in the top two places in every race she enters.

“I didn’t quite get my PR [personal record], but I felt pretty good,” Larson said.

As a team, Sequim finished third with 70 points as Klahowya, with five runners in the top 13, winning with 36 points (Cross country is scored like golf, with lower scores better than higher scores.). Liberty Mavy finished 23rd with a time of 24:28.4, Lilly Despain was 24th at 24:41.9, Bridget (Birdie) Pyeatt was 28th at 25:11.2 and Mia Kirner was 29th at 25:20.5.

The Port Angeles girls did not have a full team, but had three runners in the top 20. The Riders’ Faerin Tait was 19th at 22:57.6

For the boys, Port Angeles lost a lot of its big runners from last year such as Jack Gladfelter, Max Baeder and Langdon Larson, who all graduated. However, newcomer Easton Dempsey, a sophomore, had a solid first race, finishing seventh overall at 17:33.1. His teammates Jayden McLarty were 17th (18:08.0), Andre Campbell 20th (18:21.4), Samuel Hayes 27th (18:54.7), Justin Garrett 33rd (19:13.6), Justin McLarty 35th (19:54.3) and Cooper Berry 40th (21:43.3).

For Sequim, the Wolves’ Sean Southard was 22nd (18:50.5), Reid Randall was 26th (18:52.1), Adrian Osborne was 31st (19:02.4) and Malachi Byrne 34th (19:45.2).

Port Angeles finished fifth as a team with 104 points, while Sequim was sixth with 114. Klahowya won the boys’ race with 52.

Sequim’s Dawn Hulstedt, left, and Kaitleyn Bloomenrader were third and second in the 45th annual Salt Creek races Saturday. (Pierre LaBossiere/Peninsula Daily News)

Sequim’s Dawn Hulstedt, left, and Kaitleyn Bloomenrader were third and second in the 45th annual Salt Creek races Saturday. (Pierre LaBossiere/Peninsula Daily News)

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